When we’re little, people love to see us running around naked. But that gets more awkward (hopefully!) as we age, and it’s the same for our talents. People are forgiving of the raw, unselfconscious efforts of a teenager singing her first recital, or of a first blog post, or even a first recipe, but as you practice and hone your craft, the critics have more room…and justification…to analyze, judge – as well as delete, ignore, swipe. As you get better (and most people do), the bar gets higher. Expectations (from yourself and others) become built in to whatever you put out there – because if the last time was great, the next time will be greater. You begin to walk in bigger shoes, or in this case, wear big, grown up pants.
Remember when Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat, Pray, Love, and then did a Ted Talk about how her next effort couldn’t help but be a disappointment? This is not a comparison to a New York Times best selling author…but sometimes, when I do good work, and there’s applause (even from one), I say to myself, “How nice. But can I pull it off again?” There’s some kernel of doubt that lives in me and wonders if that was the last time, a fluke, a one-off. I’ve never been right about this, but the more I talk to other people about this fraud/fail/anomaly syndrome, the more I see that I’m not alone. I guess it’s just so fun to knock it out of the park that it becomes addictive – and we all want that impact every time. If there were a secret to killing it, always, I think we’d all buy it.
But it’s almost impossible for every project, book, product, video, post or presentation to be a best seller. Seth Godin writes ten to twenty blogs for every one he publishes. But knowing this, the thing we can start to understand is what does work, and why does it work, and did it do something for someone somewhere that was useful…without the pressure of epic performance. Ingredients for greatness reveal themselves when you aren’t panicked about…being great.
So calm the eff down. Eyes on the road. Do your work. Measure results. Scrap what’s mediocre. Keep the good stuff. Press play.
Then do it all again.
That’s pretty much the big secret.