In the beginning of your creative journey, when you don't yet have the inner confidence to believe in yourself, and lots of people are telling you no, you need trusted voices. You need to surround yourself with people who believe in your yes, like close friends and family members and mentors who know you best. Everyone else you can pretty much ignore. In fact, if you don't, you might end up micro optimizing your idea into oblivion.
BORROWED HOPE — Trusted voices to compensate for your low confidence in the beginning of a creative journey
Grazer, the producer whose films have grossed over thirteen billion dollars, gives the following advice in his outstanding book on curiosity. Decline input when you’re worried about being persuaded out of something you really believe in. Just because someone smart and persuasive is sitting in front of you making their case, doesn't mean you should try to recontextualize a decision that you have already made. It's a refreshing reminder that we don’t need that many people to believe in us. Less than a dozen will do.
During those first few years of wearing a nametag every day, thousands of the wrong people told me to quit, and a handful of the right people told me to stick with it. But it was obvious whom was worth listening to. Feedback is source dependent, as my therapist used to joke. If a complete stranger who has no idea what you're here to do has a problem with your dream, then that's no reason to stop. You just have to learn how to give weight to the right voices and be selective about your receptivity to criticism and its sources. Working as a brand manager at a global startup also taught me this lesson. We had about six hundred employees, and although my people pleasing tendencies wanted to impress all of them, frankly, there were only about ten people on the executive team whose opinions really mattered. And so, focusing on building relationships with and creating value for them was my priority. Which meant that if some entry level programmer from a country that I couldn’t even pronounce had an issue with one of my training videos, that was no reason to beat myself up and go back to the drawing board.
Tillich's book on the courage to be has a beautiful passage about this: To believe in love in the face of hatred, life in the face of death, day in the dark of night, good in the face of evil, to some all of these may seem to be hopelessly naïve, wishful thinking and whistling in the dark, but each of these are manifestations of enormous courage. Lesson learned, give weight to the right voices, and yours will surely shine for years to come. Whose advice have you outgrown?
Give new ideas breathing room to grow
Process critical feedback in a healthy manner
Protect your heart when you’re still finding yourself creatively
Master the art of giving the right amount of weight to the right number of voices