As soon as I saw her face I knew something was very wrong.
She looked up at me briefly with an insecure sideways glance before returning her gaze to her shoes.
Me: “Yes, Chloe. What’s wrong?” I anxiously asked.
Her lip quivered ever so slightly as she let out a resigned sigh.
Chloe: “I’m…a bit weird!” she exclaimed filled with shame.
I gently knelt down and looked directly into her eyes.
Me: “Chloe, we’re all a bit weird. Some people are just better at hiding it is all”
Chloe: “Even you and Mum?” She pleaded.
Me: “Especially me and your Mum” I retorted playfully. “Our weirdness is our superpower. A bit like Po in Kung Fu Panda”
She scanned my face to see if I was lying to make her feel better.
Her frown turned upside down. Her eyes locked confidently onto mine before we hugged it out.
Chloe is only 7.
It doesn’t matter how old we are or how limited our understanding of this fucked up world is; we all just want to be understood.
Remember this when you’re creating content. Vulnerability is a strength and not a weakness.
This is how we deeply connect with each other; it’s the sharing of experiences both good and bad that bond us tightly together.
Shared identity gives us meaning.
Creativity is the distillation of our hopes, our fears, our pain through the medium of art so that others feel understood on this spinning chunk of rock that we all live on.
Chloe was feeling weird because she is introverted. Every introvert remembers the first time they realised they were different.
I know I can. I’m Gen X. We were told to ‘toughen up’ and ‘stop being so sensitive’ etc, etc.
We were brought up believing our introverted traits were weaknesses. That there was something inherently broken within us.
That we should lock away our weak emotions, get out of our heads and gregariously join in with a society that not only favoured extroverts but practically demanded it.
So I grew up pretending to be extroverted.
Which was a bit fucked up.
And often an unmitigated disaster for me emotionally. I ended up using alcohol as a crutch for a couple of decades.
Turns out, pretending to be someone you’re not is emotionally fucking exhausting. No shit, huh?
I had done it since I was a kid so it became part of who I thought I was. Which was really weird in hindsight.
But we can’t read the label when we’re stuck in the jar, right?
Eventually, I broke down and burnt out. Two decades of chronic stress, abusing alcohol and drugs whilst touring around the world pretending to be someone you’re not will do that apparently.
Who knew, right?! 😆
As fucking painful as that shit was, it was precisely what I needed to do in order to shed the skin of a self-created false identity so I could, finally, ‘just’ be myself.
So, yeah, as far as journeys of discovery go I suspect mine wouldn’t get a good review on TripAdvisor.
There are definitely easier ways to tap into your true creative potential.
It wasn’t until much later that I realised when channelled correctly our introverted traits are actually the superpowers for creativity and problem solving.
We think deeply, we feel deeply and that means we can connect deeply with others with our creativity.
Our True Creative Selves
First, let’s define what I mean by true creative self.
I mean creating art, content or work without overthinking the shit out of it with fear and ego. This is super tricky given we overthink the shit of pretty much everything we do, and create.
I dunno let me overthink the shit out of it…*kidding*
Fear and ego crush our creativity. When we create with ego we are judging our work.
We start to create for external validation which is basically people-pleasing with creativity and that’s always, without question, a really shit idea.
And the fear of rejection and failure means we don’t commit to our creativity. We hold back, we dilute our work so (if and when) it gets rejected we can at least console our fragile egos knowing we didn’t put 100% into our rejected work.
Which is totally fucked up!!
We dilute our work. Meaning it’s highly unlikely to connect with our audience which massively increases its chances of failure because we’re scared of er, failure.
That’s like jumping out of a plane and you’re too scared to use the parachute in case it fails to open.
If that’s not ego fuelled whacko bullshit I don’t know what is.
In Tennis, they call it tanking a game. And everyone from Djokovic to Agassi has done it so let’s not pretend we’re special snowflakes here.
I have worked with highly talented creators and entrepreneurs all my career. Some were hugely successful, sold millions, shaped the culture, and others didn’t even make a dent.
It took me years of reflection to fully understand the commonalities of what makes some creative connect deeper than others.
There are clearly multiple factors: most are out of our control ( luck, timing, connections, etc) but the common theme was they were their true creative selves.
They didn’t create content to get attention, they created content because they were paying attention.
This is a subtle but critical difference.
Most people create content cos they are consciously or subconsciously seeking validation. They want to know if they’re good enough and place their entire creative self worth in the hands of others.
True creators create what they want to create. They were paying attention to their inspiration, to their true creative selves.
They created work they were proud of. Not to please others but for processing the shit in their heads.
Their creative self worth is in their own hands.
Life is weird. The less you chase external validation by being true to your creativity the more likely you are to receive it in my experience.
Strange but true…
You achieve this by being yourself.
‘Just’ be yourself
‘Just’ be yourself. How many times have you heard that?
It implies that it’s easy to be yourself. Ironically ‘just’ being yourself is one of the hardest things we can ever do.
We’re all so fucking terrified of being rejected for who we really are that we have created masks and personas so you will like us, follow us, and maybe, just maybe, even love us.
There are only two times we are naturally our true selves. Firstly, up until the age of 5 or 6, we are blissfully unaware of the fucked up human concept of living our lives based on others people’s opinions of us.
Or when we are so old we no longer give a fuck what they think.
According to sociologist, Charles Cooley, behaviour and self-esteem are dictated by our predictions of how we’ll be perceived by others.
“ I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am” — Charles Cooley
That is to say that we believe we are what other people believe we are. Our self is created by our assumptions of other people’s perceptions.
When it’s put like that it sounds like a really dumb idea, huh? *sarcasm*
Our creative journey is simply to discover the true creative self that we briefly tasted in our childhood.
And to live with it in the here and now before we’re too old to do anything with it.
May the flow be with you
Athletes who are in the zone are performing at their peak and even beyond their innate skill set.
When athletes are in the zone their ego is not judging their talent nor are they overthinking, or ravaged with fear.
They are just being. Caught up in the flow.
“At that special level all sorts of odd things happened.... It was almost as if we were playing in slow motion. During those spells I could almost sense how the next play would develop and where the next shot would be taken.
Even before the other team brought the ball in bounds, I could feel it so keenly that I'd want to shout to my teammates, "It's coming there!" - except that I knew everything would change if I did. My premonitions would be consistently correct” — Bill Russell, eleven times NBA champion.
Flow state is responsible for peak performance in our creativity.
Flow is talked about in almost a mythical manner.
Like we all need to strap on our own personal Yoda and lift X wing fighters out of swamps to get into flow.
Yet, kids can get into flow fairly easily. Chloe will spend hours upon hours in flow state completely lost in the mythical world she creates with lego, paw patrol characters and her imagination.
I did the same as a child but with soldiers.
It is flow state that allows us a glimpse at our true creative selves.
Because in flow state we’re not trying to gain attention, we’re simply paying attention to our creativity as it channels through us.
We’re not trying to be something, we are simply being.
There is no ego in flow state. No judgement. No overthinking, we’re just in the zone and surrendering to our creativity
We let it become what it wants to be.
I’m not trying to sell you a yarn about the muses or angels of creativity. I don’t buy into that.
But I do know that our creativity, our true creative self is authentic.
When we are creating in flow, we create our most authentic work. That is a given. But we also get a glimpse into who we really, truly are.
It crystallises our thinking and distils our emotions.
The top performers in any athletic or creative field are the ones who combine their innate talent with their true creative self to fulfil their potential.
The personal brands that have the most impact are built by people who are themselves and not bullshit personas created to hide their flaws in the shadows.
Every market is saturated. But to stand out you ‘just’ need to be yourself.
Who would have thunk it, huh?
👉 To learn how to get into flow state click here
👉 1:1 consultancy for introverts who want to stand out, build an engaged audience with an authentic personal, get in contact here for a 30 min complimentary discovery call.
👉 For introverts who want to get on the waiting list for the community focusing on personal branding can do so here.
That’s all. Thanks for reading.
Back in a couple of weeks with some more ramblings. ✌️