Good morning everyone.
This past Friday night, I took a little of my own medicine and I put some of my artwork out there for people to see. Specifically, I entered one of my own photographs in a local art competition hosted at a gallery near where I live. As I mentioned before, I try to only use my own photographs for the blog and the “Mid Week Motivation” posts. But I had never actually taken the step to put my work out in an offline, public environment.
The picture in the center (above) is my submission. I had taken this on a vacation to Oregon nearly 2 years ago now. It is one of my favorite places on earth and I was particularly fond of this capture as I was really just starting to practice my photography. And while I had posted it in social media for friends and family, the thought of submitting it for public showing….with strangers who would indiscriminately walk by and pass judgment was unnerving.
My mind was flood by doubts and anxiety that I have written about on the blog before….. here are just a few of the things I told myself leading up to Friday night:
- “You’re a fake.”
- “You can’t possibly win one of the awards.”
- “You don’t have enough experience.”
- “It’s just not a very good photo.”
But I went ahead with it anyways. My photography is my key creative outlet (other than this blog). I have been pushing my skills and competencies on my own…now it was time to take this step, as Seth Godin says, putting your art into the world. So I arrived on Friday night, my artwork hanging on the wall among thirty others pictures, all unique, and many beautiful images that my work was on show with. Interestingly, they asked the “artists” (…have to admit that was a flattering title…) to loiter in the gallery area in case anyone wanted to ask questions or interact…..effectively hang around without looking like you are hanging around.
My anxiety rose…quickly. I watched person after person, couple after couple, group after group walk by my art. Some would breeze by, which was disheartening. Others would stop, and a few would point to an area that caught their attention. All of the doubts and questions rolled around in my mind. In a small way I hoped someone would turn and ask a question…no one did. I wanted to rush up and stand beside them and try to eavesdrop on the conversation, but I thought that might be a little “stalker-ish”.
At the end of the night, awards and honorable mentions were handed out. Unfortunately, none for me. And as the event was winding down, two things brought complete clarity and squelched all of doubts and fears:
- My son told me he was proud of me for submitting the work. This brought me back to one of the original reasons that I actually stepped up to submit my work – I wanted to show my children the importance of putting your art into the world.
- Also, a very kind young woman approached me and shared how she had very much enjoyed my piece and how she had returned to it several times during the showing.
In the end I learned, or re-learned, some valuable lessons:
- You need to take your own medicine; in other words, you cannot credibly live with a “Do as I say not as I do” philosophy. For months and years, I have been imploring my teams and blog readers to reach and put their “art” into the world. I needed to do that myself.
- Separate, the process from the person. Sitting in the area of the pictures watching people walk by my submission was hard to do. But at the end of the night, it was one piece of art, one idea. It doesn’t stop me from submitting again. It doesn’t give me a pass on trying again and getting better. I own that.
- Remember why. As much as I truly wanted to win and be recognized, I remembered at the end one of the key reasons I made myself vulnerable in the first place: to show my kid, and particularly my son that we need to put our art out there.
So what “art” or ideas are you sitting on? The world needs to see your work. Don’t keep us in the dark. You have something we need to see….something that will bring joy or inspiration to someone else. Ship it. Put it out there. And keep doing it. Keep getting better.
Here’s this week’s 5 for 5:
The Importance of Staring out the Window – via The School of Life
SO WHAT: Probably one of the best things I have read this week. Don’t under estimate the importance of letting your mind wander.
8 Habits of Curious People – by Stephanie Vozza – via Fast Company
SO WHAT: Curiosity is something we could all use a little (or a lot) more of…if you feel like yours has slipped away, try some of the suggestions in this post.
Five ways to beat workplace stress – Jennifer Warawa – via Virgin.com
SO WHAT: The article is spot on…..stress destroys your health and productivity. The key is self-awareness, both to understand if your anxiety level is rising, as well as what your most effective methods are to defuse it.
Seen, heard, gotten, changed – by Seth Godin – via @thisissethsblog
SO WHAT: This is exactly why I write this blog…..to present you with ideas and concepts you may not have seen or heard, but also to inpire you to “get” the idea, and more importantly make a change.
Can’t Focus In Your Open Office? Wrap Yourself In This New Cocoon To Tune Out Distraction – by Ariel Schwartz – via Fast Company
SO WHAT: Yes, please. I want one.
All the best, kevin