About 6 months ago, I was invited to be a contributing author for a book about female entrepreneurs. Although my own full-length book was already in the works, Business on Purpose would be fast-tracked and would mark my debut as an Author (capital “A” and everything). I’ve been writing this blog since 2016, but I always felt that made me a “writer.” It would take the process of having my work raked through the coals by a professional editor, and chosen by an actual publisher in order for me to be deemed a proper Author.
It’s something I’ve always wanted.
And it’s something I never thought I would do.
You know the ones. They’re the lies that we’ve been sold our entire lives. Either by design or by default, they’ve been handed down, generation after generation to each and every one of us, but it seems they hit artists and creatives hardest of all.
These are the 3 Big Myths that hold us back from moving forward with our ideas. Keep us doing the same old thing, year after year, and they are the myths that stop us from having the careers we dream of, mute our voices, and make our lives feel “stuck”.
They stem from imposter syndrome: negative internal thoughts we make up ourselves to protect us from risk but are also reinforced externally; we hear them repeated by those around us. They can be especially brutal in the Arts world, spoken by our teachers and mentors who are so inextricably linked to us that if we make a career faux pas, it reflects poorly on them.
Nevertheless, it is in everybody’s interest that we see them for the lies they are and break free of their intense hold on us, so here they are, in all their bastardly glory:
Sound familiar? I think one of these 3 (or a variation of them) has been uttered in every call I have ever had with a prospective client. It’s my job to help them bust through them.
Let’s do a little myth-busting today, shall we?
Maybe they have! Joseph Campbell’s idea of the Hero’s Journey was an iconically good idea, and guess what? EVERY STORY USES IT. (Even the ones before he started talking about it)
Maybe they haven’t! When I started the Virtual Summer Cello Festival, it was the first of its kind! Were the powers that be at the big conservatories sitting around their Zoom rooms having similar ideas? Maybe—but they didn’t do it, did they? Not until much later.
Myth-Busting Statement: It doesn’t matter if someone else has already tried your idea because you will bring a unique voice to it, and YOUR version just might become the iconic one. And it’s not necessarily the case that someone would have “done it” already. Maybe all of the people who had the same idea chickened out—just like you’re in danger of doing? I’m so proud that VSCF became a “proof of concept” for so many awesome virtual music festivals to come. And it wouldn’t have happened at all if I had succumbed to Myth #1.
This is a lesson I had to learn a couple of times over. The first time was when I was starting to break out of the freelance scene and concertize more. After months of staring at my phone wondering WHEN people were going to start booking me, I realized that most presenters don’t take it upon themselves to seek out artists for their upcoming season. They’re sent pitches and they choose from what they get. Podcasts run a similar way, and that was the 2nd time I learned this lesson. I remember listening to guest interviews on my favorite podcasts, dreaming of a day when they would seek ME out—desperate to introduce me to their audience! That’s how I’ll know I’m making a difference, I thought!
HA! Numerous pitch emails, and numerous guest spots later, I can assure you. You just have to find the right fit, raise your hand, and say “I think I could bring an interesting conversation to your audience.”
Myth-Busting Statement: More often than not, the decision-makers of the world are choosing from amongst the people who have raised their hands. If you never raise your hand, you will never be chosen–no matter how good you are. So raise your hand. Start the concert series. Create that community initiative. Write the post. Whatever it is you want to do, just raise your hand by doing it!
It’s easy to see why this one is so prevalent in the Arts. From a young age, we are used to being told which doors are open to us. Our teacher told us when we were ready for the next level dance class. We successfully auditioned for the next youth orchestra, our teacher chose our essay to represent the school in the regional contest. And, I hear this A LOT: If your teacher didn’t choose you, then it meant you weren’t good enough. As an adult, we see the holes in that argument. Just because a teacher had to choose 1 student, it doesn’t mean there weren’t many they could have chosen. When we’re growing up, sometimes life really is a Zero-sum game. There can only be one and if it’s someone else, it’s not going to be you.
We spend the first 20+ years as artists being ranked, and it’s really hard to understand that after a certain point, assuming you have amassed a certain level of professional skill, you get to choose for yourself. Sure, we might have mentors who pass our names along, and that’s wonderful! But it’s not the only way things are done. It’s not like you’re not allowed to set your eyes on the prize and go for it.
As far as the “people will laugh at me” bit? Yeah, maybe some will. But when people around you criticize your intentions, it has more to do with their own fears and doubts about themselves and nothing to do with you. It’s the classic tale of the drinking buddies who don’t want you to get sober because they don’t think they can, or the crabs in a bucket who instinctively pull a would-be escapee near the rim back to the bottom of the bucket.
Myth-Busting Statement: There is only one person in the world who can decide the kind of career you should have, and it’s YOU. No one else gets a say. Not an external tribunal of higher-ups, not your colleagues, not your friends, no one. In other words, if you don’t have the kind of career you want to have? It’s no one’s fault but your own.
I often talk about the “Jealousy Scroll” as a good way to help you get out of a rut. And I stand by it—just open up the social media app of your choice, and take note of which accounts make you jealous. What are they doing that you want to be doing? What do they have that you would like to see in your life?
If you can start there, and then get through those 3 BIG Myths to believe that you COULD try out your idea–even if someone has just done something similar. If you can find the courage to raise your hand, and the boldness within you to decide for yourself what you want, and ignore any negativity around you, then you will be on your way.
Want a little hand-holding through the process? If you’re reading this in real-time, Come to my annual Thrive Fest event happening next week-September 12-15th .“Planning For Optimal Impact” is a 4-day mini-workshop that will help you answer those questions, clarify what it is you want, and where and how to start raising your hand.
Oh! And that book I was asked to contribute to? It was released today! If you want to check it out, you can find it right here! All profits from the Kindle version of Business On Purpose Vol 2 will be donated to Convoy of Hope. They provide humanitarian and disaster relief aid around the world, and more than 90% of donated funds go directly to support communities in need.
I’d be so grateful if you could give it a like on my socials, and if you read it, take a couple of minutes to leave a review–it helps so much! Thanks!