“We All Wanna Change the World”

RevolutionWhispered rumors of revolution are blowing through the country. The economy is floundering, people are losing all that they have worked for, and the debts are mounting: a perfect formula for change. Those at the bottom have become the first to receive the blows and as more and more people’s wealth and security are destroyed they begin to see the flaws in the system and join the movement to advocate change. Workers are no longer being taken care of, and everyone is at risk.

This is a time of revolution, and it is one that may not look like any other. This revolution is far more covert. It is the creative revolution. No longer will the US working world be filled with drones and robot-like humans, rather with people who have ideas of their own. It will be a full embrace of the individualism that the US has always preached, but never actually achieved. People will be seen as valuable and in Seth Godin‘s words they will be “indispensable.”

We hear more rumors of this in other places too. TED notoriously has speakers preaching this idea. From David Kelley, to Julie Burstein, and Elizabeth Gilbert to Sir Ken Robinson’s two talks on this subject, all these speakers believe that the time is now to release the creative genius in all of us in order to not only have personal fulfillment but to make society more productive.

We hear the success stories of countless risk-takers who made invaluable contributions to society because they were willing to let themselves be creative and different. Apple. Google. Inception. Gotye. All vastly different contributions to the world, but all were hugely successful because of their uniqueness, creativity, and because they were fueled by a vision.

The world before today was full of mediocrity. Not because the people of that time were mediocre intrinsically, but because they CHOSE mediocrity. Because the world rewarded mediocrity with stability. Cue Seth Godin and his book Linchpin:

“Where does Average Come From?

It comes from two places:

1. You have been brainwashed by school and by the system into believing that your job is to do your job and follow instructions. It’s not, not anymore.

2. Everyone has a little voice inside of their head that’s angry and afraid. That voice is the resistance–your lizard brain–and it wants you to be average (and safe).

If you’re not doing as well as you hoped, perhaps it’s because the rules of the game were changed, and no one told you.

The rules were written just over two hundred years ago; they worked for a long time, but no longer. It might take you more than a few minutes to learn the new rules, but it’s worth it.“

Today, those old constructions are crumbling. What the world needs now are people who think for themselves -those who are willing to offer fresh ideas and new perspectives.

The good news is that every person on the planet is able to do this job if they allow themselves. We are all creative by nature and are all unique, but we must take a risk to unleash that creative potential. With the past promises of security crumbling, there is very little to lose. The time is now. Jump into the revolution.

Risk Aversion and a Moment of Vulnerability

I’m a pretty private person and recently I have begun to have some self-realizations (as 20-somethings often do) with regard to this idiosyncrasy. I have discovered that if something is really important to me and I’m not sure how people will react to it, I tend to conceal it. This is true with beliefs, guys that I am seeing (or want to be seeing), and things I create -among many other examples. When I was younger (and even now to some extent) I concealed my artwork or some other type of creation from my parents, even though I knew they would probably think whatever I was doing was great. There was something deeply personal about what I created. I guess it’s a part of feeling vulnerable, which all humans struggle with at times.

Therefore, this business that I am starting is definitely stretching me out of that comfort zone. I am having problems taking the plunge. It’s not that I can’t handle criticism; in fact, I feel like criticism is never nearly as bad as the prospect of criticism. Usually when I receive criticism I can handle it pretty well. I am usually able to see what’s valid about the other person’s statement and what isn’t and go from there. It’s fear of the unknown that holds me back.

Anyway, starting a business is a huge risk, and although I like to think of myself as a risk taker, I am just as big of a coward as anyone because of the potential of being judged.

Luckily, I have found inspiration for taking risks in many places, a lot of which I have shared on this blog already, such as the article from my previous post: Lessons from an Article. One part of this article that I did not address in the other post was this quote: “Coming to terms with failure is not enough –you must learn to ignore shame.” I’m sure that is something that everyone has dealt with at some point in life. We all fail and we recognize this and often accept this as a part of life. But shame? That’s the part of failure that we all like to ignore but it is also the part that prevents us from completely leaping whole heartedly into the ventures we dream of. Shame is the deal-breaker for most, but this article argues that it shouldn’t be because when shame is ignored we are liberated from our fears and fear is what prevents us from taking risks.

Another quote that has been inspiring me to take a risk is from the previously posted TED talk by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon when she says: “never import other people’s limitations.” I had a chat with someone close to me yesterday and even though I felt like she was supportive when I first told her about my business venture, yesterday her support seemed to be waning. This is perhaps because she has also been trying to start her own business for the past several years and has had little monetary success. It’s understandable how her slightly bitter emotions toward entrepreneurship would rub off on how she viewed my latest undertaking, but I should not let it affect my attitude toward my business. Our situations are very different and her support (or lack thereof) is not indicative of my success so I shouldn’t let it limit me.

My next inspiration comes from a source that seems a bit cliche, and perhaps even conceded, but isn’t intended to be that way. It comes from myself. Not because I think that I am grand supreme in the awesomeness category, but because I have taken risks in my life and these risks have gotten me successes that produced nothing but blue skies and more success, as well as crippling, humiliating, painful failure. Through my running (I ran cross country and track for over 10 years) I took lots of risks. Every race there were risks. My senior year I ran so boldly and so gutsy that I nearly lost my life because I wasn’t willing to stop risking. Although not every risk was good, I didn’t care, I kept doing it because it had the potential to produce great things. I look at that part of my life now and think of it the way Harry Potter thought of his first patronus charm. He told Hermione afterwards, “I knew I could do it because I had already done it!” That’s how I feel now. If I can take bold risks in one aspect of my life, I can in others.

Finally, risk taking reminds me of other women who are trying to start their own businesses, or even those who just have a dream, and have fears that are far worse than quiet rejection and subtle judgement. There are women who are prohibited from speaking, or being seen, or to some degree from thinking at all. In some parts of the world rejection takes a lethal form. The crazy thing is that there are women who still jump, who still take risks, even when the stakes are 1000 times higher than mine. Talk about inspiration.

So today, I am addressing risk and all the possibilities of criticism, failure, and shame that come with it. After all, it’s just cards! But it is also about recognizing that it is more than just cards to me. Today it is about deciding what kind of person I am/will be. Will I be the risk-taker who launches herself out of her own comfort zone in order to grab all that life has to offer, or will I play it safe?

I think I know what the right answer is: risk-taker. It’s the only known remedy for a boring life.