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Monday, February 25, 2013

6 Things They Have No Right To Tell You

Follow your star.  Photo by Kyla
I said once before and will likely say many times again, I like to steal from the best. The last time I said it I made the mistake of not explaining myself and defining my terms. So, I let you down that time. You may have thought I meant all kinds of things but you likely didn't know what I was really talking about.

My bad.

Let me correct that now. When I say "I steal from the best" I mean it in the same sense as in the phrase usually attributed to Pablo Picasso:  "Good artists borrow; great artists steal."

So the last time I stole, I stole an idea for my opening line, from the great inspirational writer James Altucher. This time, I'm stealing a title from another inspirational writer, Chris Guillebeau. I've learned a lot from both these writers.

Chris Guillebeau came up with one list of Things they have no right to tell you .

You can read his list at that link. (It's worth reading, and while you're over there, check out all the other good stuff.)

Here's my list:

You can't do that, it will never work. Most often said by someone who has never broken a rule in their life. Or if they have, they haven't broken the rule they think you are about to break. Or if they did make a similar attempt, they failed at it. So how do they really know what's outside that safe territory? The answer is, they don't. All inventions and innovations start with somebody breaking what used to be a rule. Sometimes it takes multiple attempts before the first one succeeds at carving out the new territory.

You should be frightened. I am always gob-smacked at news headlines that read "How Frightened Should We Be?" of this weather pattern, that disease outbreak, this other economic report. Another favorite is "Should You Be Frightened?" of this trend in housing, or education, or grocery prices. Well, no, you should not, ever, be frightened. You should be alert, aware, awake, yes. Frightened, no. I challenge anyone to give me one single instance when mass fear has worked out to our benefit.

You should be worried. Close cousin to item number two. This one is more often offered as good advice to you by someone genuinely concerned for your welfare. Well, okay, we'll give them that. But the idea that worry is going to help is truly ridiculous. Pay attention, yes. Worry? It will eat you alive if you let it.

People like us don't (or can't) do that. This statement lures you in with that feeling of belonging to a group. Even if you don't make whatever it is work out, you are still part of "people like us." And belonging is really more important, no? So why risk that by trying to do what "people like us" don't or can't do?

That's been tried. Well, no doubt it has, but not by you, not yet. Maybe you are the one to break the pattern, hmm?

That's been done. See above. Maybe so, but not by you, yet.

See the common pattern? Every one of these statements is designed to deflate you, drain your energy, derail you from continuing in your creative pursuit or rob you of the feeling that you are competent to manage your own life. I'm here to tell you that, even in the case that one of these statements turns out to be (relatively) accurate, it is never okay to deliver it to somebody who is in the creative flow. It's not okay to sabotage that with "experience" or "wisdom" or "good advice."

When a project is in the beginning stages, especially if it is something you've never done before, there is a period when the project needs to be nurtured like a young plant. Foster it. Husband it. Protect that growth phase.

Editing can come later.

Meanwhile, you follow your star. It's inside you there.


P.S. I'm facing some of this right now, right this minute. I wrote this post in advance because I intended to use the time today to begin a larger project. A book, if you must know. I even woke up at 3 am with the basic outline of intro and six chapters, turned on the light and wrote it down.

So, I'm ready to go, right? Wrong. I am sitting here right this minute, writing this P.S. to you because I am struggling with self doubt. And where does that self doubt come from? It comes from a lifetime of hearing messages like the ones I warn about in this article.

Don't take that crap in. It's poison.

Now I've got an intro to write so I'll catch you later.


  1. Looking forward to reading YOUR Book!!! xxx Ariane 7:05

    1. Hey, Ariane, thank you! I am going to do my best to make it a totally AWESOME book! I may be posting parts of it in the bloggity here as I go along writing it too, so, stay tuned. And, share the blog link with everyone! :)

  2. Grab that tiger by the tail!

    1. LOL! You know that old Chinese saying? "He who rides a tiger can never dismount."

      I think I maybe was born riding that dern tiger. Quite the ride, eh? *wink*

  3. Love this list, exactly what I needed to see today--thank you :)

    Also, WRITE. Just write. You've got your opening, now butt to chair and fingers to keyboard. You CAN do it!

    1. Thank you so much, Mrs F. If you know others who might be supported by my little list, please feel free to share it.

      And thanks for the encouragement too. (I am right this moment so annoyed with my computer in combo with my fumble fingers, for some reason my first reply to you captured a whole line it text that was not meant to be there. Feh.)

      Anyway, yes indeed, onward! And same to you! :)

  4. Thanks for the list. I bet not a week goes by when I don't hear at least 3 phrases from that list.

    1. Hi, Wes, welcome here. And you're welcome. This type of message is such a common theme in the collective mind, I could almost justify calling it the Self Doubt Disease. :) Because it's so common, it tends to slip by unnoticed and infect all sorts of things.