The date is the 18th February 2012, and my index finger is hovering anxiously over the ‘enter’ key on my laptop. I’m about to do it. After four and a half years of writing, editing, rewriting, taking breaks and pulling my hair out, I’m about to self-publish my book on Amazon.
As soon as I press that key it’s done. I’ve metaphorically stepped out of my bedroom and into the world around me with a big sign saying, ‘This is what I believe in. This is what I’m capable of. This is my dream.’
It’s a bold move for anyone with a creative vision, be it making YouTube videos, writing a book or a blog, creating music, presenting your art or even starting a new business. You’re a target. You’re raising your head from the parapet that virtually the whole of humanity hides under and saying, ‘this is who I am.’
What’s going to happen? Are people going to ridicule your efforts? Are they going to judge you? Are you going to fail and not a single person will be interested in your work? Might they even love what you do?
In my case, not a lot. You see I didn’t tell anyone or have a blog set up to promote my launch. I didn’t make use of my extensive client list from tennis coaching and hypnotherapy. Instead, I pressed the key and then, like a mouse, ran back to the safety of my hole in the wall (and to think I was surprised and aggrieved it took 6 weeks to sell my first copy to a non-family member!!)
Why did I do this?
Besides a total lack of promotional nouse, I think the answer was that I was afraid people wouldn’t accept me or my truth. I’d spent 9 years presenting this acceptable image of myself as the ‘nice guy’ who shows your kids how to play tennis and yet now I was telling everyone to Screw the System.
Where did this guy come from? Is he against us because we work regular jobs and live conventional lives?
These were the thoughts I was projecting in my head. As a result, I did my best to conceal my ‘other’ life. I wouldn’t bring up the subject in conversation and if someone did ask me about my book, they’d get a monosyllabic response.
Writing this now, I can’t believe what a terrible advert I was for my book. However, my irrational fear made me feel at odds with the very thing I had worked so hard to create.
Fast forward 3 years, and I no longer feel this way. Talking about my book is a pleasure and I’m finally going to email my entire tennis coaching and hypnotherapy client list (just as soon as I get my revised updates to the book complete).
Having gone through this experience, I have something to offer anybody contemplating sharing their work with the world.
I know there are a lot of you out there. I’ve spoken to some of you on Facebook, email and Skype about your plans to make YouTube videos, write books or start a blog. In fact, most of us dream of claiming a role greater than the one The System offers, but most of us never will because we have an irrational fear about failing or being rejected.
With the rest of this post, I will dispel these fears and explain why sharing your work with the world is a win-win situation for you. I hope it goes some way to giving you the encouragement needed to get your work out there. You just don’t know what impact it might have!!
The mind can be fragile when it comes to revealing something highly personal about you to the world. Expect it to play tricks on you and come up with a bunch of crazy scenarios relating to your fears about what might happen.
If any of these thoughts happen then the most important thing to remember is that they’re perfectly natural. The next most important thing to remember is that they AREN’T REAL!!! They are just thoughts in your head and bear no relevance to what may or may not happen.
In my case, all the crazy scenarios I imagined never occurred. Nobody I knew, either personally or professionally, rejected me as a result of my book. When they eventually found out, they, congratulated me, wished me luck or said nothing at all.
This reaction made me realise something profound about our fears concerning what other people think. 99% of the time, and this even extends to friends and family, people are so wrapped up in what they’ve got to do that they haven’t got the energy to be negative about something you’re doing. Own this knowledge because it gives you permission to be who you want to be, say what you want to say and do what you want to do. Create with freedom because the worst reaction you will encounter is silence.
Even if you do receive criticism from someone you know or an anonymous source, this can still be spun to your advantage. As long as the person isn’t mudslinging (in which case you should immediately disregard), then the criticism they are levelling at you might lead to huge improvements in your work. Therefore, treat them as gatekeepers. They can save you months of research by pointing out a flaw that is not always easy to see when consumed by what you’re creating.
The other fear preventing people from pursuing their creative endeavours is the prospect of failure. ‘What if I no one buys my work and I don’t make any sales? Or, what if my sales are marginal and all that hard work, money and time goes to waste?’
On the surface, these fears can appear more rational but once explored, you’ll discover that they too are baseless.
When sharing their work with the world, most people have a rough end goal in mind (e.g. gaining 10,000 subscribers to a blog) and view anything but attaining this goal as a failure. You must take a different approach. While end goals are important, what is even more so, is building confidence.
Your belief in your work determines the quality of your output. But how do you develop the kind of confidence that will enable you to produce quality content or products that have people flocking to buy?
Some self-help books and courses tell you that you need to repeat affirmations about how great you are. However, research (read DISTORTION 4 on the link) shows that this is incorrect. Instead, the best way to build confidence is to be praised by other people.
Now it just so happens that by sharing your work with the world you have the perfect outlet to receive this praise. So long as you adopt a ‘glass half full’ outlook, there will be plenty of small successes to celebrate.
For example, you’ve ‘only’ got 100 subscribers to your blog? That’s amazing. That’s 100 people who believe in you and value what you have to say. They didn’t have to sign up; they did it out of choice because they enjoy what you create.
Personally, the praise and feedback I’ve received from some of you has been like an elixir of belief creating a certainty that my end goal is achievable. I write with more passion and greater insight because I’ve had those small successes that let me know I’m on the right path.
This would never have happened if my fear of rejection or failure had been stronger than my desire to spread my message. Of course, those fears existed but I’ve subsequently learned they were completely groundless. This is what I want you to take from the article. If you have a desire to share your creative work with the world then go for it. You will only gain from the experience and perhaps, so too, will the world!
(Image taken from GotCredit photostrem flickr.com)