Beware the fearless little girl
Have you ever watched kids at playtime? They're maniacs!
Look at this kid rolling around in the mud. That FACE.
When kids are playing, they are not playing around. They are serious. They're all in.
And they feel good about what they're doing. Here's a story from Ken Robinson's excellent and world-famous TED talk:
"[There once was] a little girl who was in a drawing lesson. She was six, and she was at the back, drawing, and the teacher said this girl hardly ever paid attention, and in this drawing lesson, she did. The teacher was fascinated. She went over to her, and she said, 'What are you drawing?' And the girl said, 'I'm drawing a picture of God.' And the teacher said, 'But nobody knows what God looks like.' And the girl said, 'They will in a minute.'"
If that isn't confidence, I don't know what is.
It's the best kind - busy, having fun, lost in the work, looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.
For most of us, this easy confidence fades away once we start to care about other people's opinions more than our own. When we start to hope that our work will lead to a gold star, or a big fat raise, or a blowout ticker tape parade in our honor, we are in trouble. And when we start to worry that if our work isn't good enough we'll be shunned and mocked and drummed out of the village, we're REALLY in trouble.
As adults, we develop an ego, and fear, and that's where the trouble starts - creatively speaking, anyway.
But in order to create something new, to be inventive, to make anything really, we need the ability to ignore everybody and just do the work.
So how can we reprogram our grownup brains, and tap back into that six-year-old's field of endless possibilities?
One way is to use something called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT for short. There are several great books on the topic: one is The Confidence Gap.
"Too many of us miss out on opportunities in life because we lack self-confidence. Whether it's public speaking, taking on a leadership role, or asking someone for a date, there are situations in which we just don't feel equipped to handle the challenges we face."Russ Harris offers a surprising solution to low self-confidence, shyness, and insecurity: Rather than trying to "get over" our fears, he says, the secret is to form a new and wiser relationship with them. Paradoxically, it's only when we stop struggling against our fearfulness that we begin to find lasting freedom from it."
The concept of ACT can be a way to rethink things...to unlearn a few bad habits we've all picked up along the way.
The book is full of smart ideas. Here are a few:
Take action now; feel ready later.
Oxygen is your friend.
It doesn't have to be about you.
So, to summarize: just start, don't forget to breathe, and remember it's not about you. Sounds simple, right? And simple is good. Simple is easy to remember. Simple is how kids do.
Work is the adult form of play. While we are here, we should play as much as we can.
Worried that it's too late, that you've missed your shot? Nah. It ain't over til it's over. As Sir Winston Churchill once said:
"Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts."
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