Kate Purcell

Contributed by Kate Purcell

May 10, 2013

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Fearlessness & Creativity

Amber Rae recently wrote an article about structuring her day for maximum creativity (Thanks for sharing this, Ellen!). One thing that struck me while reading her thoughts is the fact that she schedules time every day to do something that scares her.

I love this idea because embracing the things that scare me has been something I've been trying to do more of in my life. We've all heard the famous Eleanor Roosevelt quote "Do one thing every day that scares you." But what does this mean for our everyday lives and for our work? I can't exactly do a bungee jump off of Victoria Falls every day, or finally say what I've been meaning to say to my old friend all these years. Sometimes opportunities present themselves to address our biggest fears, but in the meantime we can create a practice of letting our fear in, and living life on the other side.

For me it means starting with the small stuff. It means attending to emails that have been piling in my inbox because I do not want to write something difficult. Saying an idea out loud that I'm not completely sure of. Making the font ridiculously large. Saying that I can't take on that project, because I need time for myself. It means speaking in public when I am terrified. Coming up with a concept that the experts are skeptical of. Talking to the stranger sitting next to me on the train. Putting red next to green. Fearing that I don't have all the answers, but writing that blog post anyway.

It's not to say that each time I try something scary it will lead to something great, but an attitude of leaning in towards fear can snowball over a lifetime. I can't find the original source for the following quote, but that probably says something about its universal wisdom:

Watch your thoughts — they become your words.
Watch your words — they become your actions.
Watch your actions — they become your habits.
Watch your habits — they become your character.
Watch your character — it becomes your destiny.

If we start to believe that what scares us is not to be avoided, but rather embraced, then life opens up before us. We all have fears that drive us. Creativity is found past the limits of these fears. Our society was created by us — regular human beings — and we can shape our future to be what we want only if we are willing to try new things and go beyond the borders of what is comfortable and easy.