March 9, 2017

If you’re beating yourself up right now, you need to read this

Objectivity in art is hard, if you’re the artist.

I don’t spend any time hating my paintings like a lot of artists do because I’ve released myself from each piece once it’s done. My journey with the art is over and judgement would be completely unfair.

I’ve seen it at its worst, at its best and I know where I fell short of my goals.

This is a lesson I know and I’ve written about it before.

But I got to thinking about how objectivity is impossible with ourselves too. As individuals.

Each of us sees our faults from right up close. We know our most secret motivations. We know what’s under the hood, if you will.

This came up in my mastermind group this week. A lot. And I realised that maybe it’s a good time to address the disconnect we all have.

The disconnect lies in the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. How we define and limit ourselves.

I spent years, or really more like decades, limiting myself through my personal stories. For everything I did, I could only see where I fell short. Where I failed. Where I tripped up.

I once coded an application that should have been submitted to a now defunct technology award. I coded it in 2004/2005 and in the middle of it I had my second kid but still kept going. A variation of this app is still in use today in schools and libraries around the world.

Do you know why I refused to submit it?

Because all I could see is where the code wasn’t strong enough. That I wasn’t a true programmer. Real programmers could have done this with less than 5000 lines of code.

If I stood up to accept the award, everyone would see what a fraud I was.

Etc., etc.

This was definitely a limited self-belief. I had zero objectivity about it though my client’s business grew significantly because of my work.

A few of my friends are suffering from this right now. That they can’t see the growth they’ve made, the leaps, because they only see the inside of their journey not the outside.

If you’re in a time of self-growth, getting out of your comfort zone or even really changing things up, it’s even more important to be aware that progress as judged from the inside view will not be accurate and will be unfailingly stingy with praise.

So here’s what I do, and it’s a simple thing: I take a huge step back and look at things from the ten-thousand-foot view.

This time last year. This time next year.

This time last year I was prepping for Toronto ComicCon. I was scared. I had a sense of how I’d be received but this was going to be my biggest show to date. I was still figuring out who I was becoming.

Since then, I’ve done a crap ton of ComicCons and even my Everest, which was the Supernatural convention. I’ve had art in galleries and even San Diego ComicCon.

I’ve connected with tens of thousands of people in person (truth) and online in an overwhelmingly positive way. My art has improved. I actually like myself now. And I live for running towards the things that scare me the most.

This time next year, my book will be out. I plan on becoming a public speaker. I’m going to be making a living wage on my work. And I’m open to more opportunities that are, as yet, unknown.

So…this view has removed the things that were hiding it from me. Feeling worthless or awkward. Knowing that I’m behind on my timeline. Wondering when I’m going to start feeling like an adult (I’m pretty sure that’s never going to happen, so that’s something I’m going to learn to accept).

All that messy internal noise that doesn’t serve a purpose beyond limiting.

Objectivity or the lack of it, is incredibly important to acknowledge when it comes to personal growth. Sometimes the ten-thousand-foot view is best.

I’ve done some pretty awesome things in just one year. Things that were unthinkable to me at exactly this time last year. And I give myself permission to be proud of that growth because it’s huge.

Now it’s your turn.

This time last year, what were you doing? Where was your head at? How have things changed since?
And where are you going to be this time next year?

Do this one quick thing. I guarantee you that you’ll feel better about yourself and your growth in minutes.