Are You Willing to Make a Fool of Yourself…And Become a Master?

“The time came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

I think it’s fair to say that most people who want to achieve a goal understand that it takes hard work and effort, but in order to break free from the mold and achieve mastery level it takes something more: it takes a willingness to expose your work to the world — even if it means you risk making a fool of yourself.

The question is — are you willing to pay the price it takes to achieve such greatness?

I deliberately selected this pic because (personally) I can think of nothing more scary than dancing in public in front of a bunch of strangers. (Without a bit of liquid courage — I’d rather go in front of a firing squad!). And yet, it’s often these ‘moment of truths’ that make all the difference in life.

Flowers cannot bloom unless they are exposed to the sunlight.

Our work can never be discovered if we only keep it to ourselves. As creators we know this, and yet still we delay. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. We KNOW that sooner or later we have to put ourselves and our work on display — whether that be dancing, writing, music, or whatever is our passion. If we don’t share it with the world we are wasting God’s precious gifts to us. And we tell ourselves “Someday I will. When the time is right. When the work is perfected. Definitely, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it and not care what others think. Yes, I’m gonna do it…someday.”

But that someday never comes. We keep delaying — it’s safer that way. Yet still the urge grows inside. Until, finally, at last — we decide it’s time to let the flower bloom. It’s time to show ourselves to the world — even if people think our flower isn’t all that beautiful, it no longer matters. All that matters is we are free. We are pursuing our destiny.

And it feels incredible.

The question is — what’s stopping YOU?

Here are four questions I often ask myself in order to make progress. Pondering them helps me change my mindset and the new perspective I gain makes me think about my creativity (and my life) differently. Perhaps they will help you too.

HONESTY — are you willing to be honest with yourself, even when it hurts? It’s easy to be aware of your strengths and work to build them further, but it takes courage to acknowledge your weaknesses — especially when they are painful — but unless you are willing to view yourself from all angles, you’ll be trapped by an illusion that limits your growth. This doesn’t mean you should spend all your time developing your weaknesses and not work on your strengths — on the contrary I’m a believer that you should have an 80/20 (or even 90/10) focus on ‘living your strengths.’ But you still need to be aware of your weaknesses — make sure there are not any limiting factors that could hamper your growth.

The Wacky Weed | Walter Lanz, 1946

In our flower example, if there’s a weed growing up right next to you, it would probably be a good idea to nip the weed in the bud (better yet pull that sucker out from the roots!) before it has a chance to strangle you!

2. EMBARRASSMENT — Are you willing to endure embarrassment in order to grow? Nobel prize winner George Bernard Shaw once said…

“I learned to speak as I learned to skate or cycle: by doggedly making a fool of myself until I got used to it.”

If you want to achieve greatness, you have to be willing to suffer through some awkward moments in front of other people. Do you have the courage to face such public embarrassment while you continue to practice, make mistakes, and keep trying? Most people like the security of sitting on the sidelines and laughing at other’s mistakes — that’s why most people don’t achieve greatness. They are the weeds of life. The weeds think they are strong. The weeds think the flowers are weak. The weeds are wrong.

Courtesy of rmac8oppo/CCO Creative Commons

A beautiful flower seems fragile to the weeds, but what the weeds don’t understand is that the ‘fragility’ of the flower is an integral part of its beauty. The willingness to pursue your craft in front of the whole world, by definition, makes you more fragile, and yet it’s the only way to bloom. Let the world SEE your beauty — and gain strength in the process.

3. CHILDLIKE — can you become like a little child — unafraid of failure and instead focused on getting what you want? Babies make mistakes like they are going out of style, yet they learn and keep trying because that’s all they know how to do.

Jesus reminded his disciples of the importance of humbling themselves and ‘becoming like little children.’ Accept the fact that you still have more to learn, and see the world with the open mind of a child. That change in perspective can open your mind to recognize new paths you never even knew existed before — and these are the paths to your destiny.

4. FRUSTRATION — are you willing to deal with a little frustration in order to grow? Flowers have to break through the soil to find the light — imagine how difficult that must be? In the same way, when you must break free of the crowd. But it’s not easy. When you first start learning a new skill, you might enjoy some early successes that will inspire you to keep going, but eventually you’ll hit a wall and feel like you’re going backwards. This is because the more you learn about your skill, the higher you begin to raise your standards — and soon what was good in the beginning is no longer good enough. Additionally, the more you learn, the more you become aware of your errors — recognizing things you often overlooked in the beginning because you didn’t know any better.

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

You’ll feel frustration, anger, and even a loss of self-esteem as you struggle to open the petals of your flower. You may even feel like quitting. But don’t give in to this temptation! Instead understand that these ups and downs are all part of the growth process. No mountain climb is just a straight line directly up the path — there are always some peaks and valleys on the path to greatness. In the same way, no flower goes from bud to bloom overnight — but if you keep pushing through the soil, you WILL bloom.

Now that you know, it’s time to grow

I’ll leave you with this quote and then send you on your way…

“Awareness is like sunlight over a dark well.”
Dan Millman

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