The ten year post

It’s a hot and humid evening and I’ve just fired my developer. This is the last item on my to-do list but It’s already 11pm, I could do with a nice cold shower and a bit of Silicon Valley. My brain is pestering me, though, and my phone is buzzing. All signs point towards finishing this post.

Welcome to Supraliminal, thanks for stopping by.

Let’s kick things off with something that’s been ever-present in my life recently: self-doubt.

Us creative people have a tendency talk ourselves out of publishing work. We could showcase our creations to the public, to the entire world, but theres always something holding us back — a fear our work will get criticised.

My brain, rightly or wrongly, tells me there are a lot of virtual enemies out there. There are a lot of people ready to start a virtual war because you published something they didn’t like or thought was wrong.

I try to publish stuff and to work on my own projects, but I’m very aware I put a lot of things off. I’ve procrastinated for a long time — this blog post alone has taken me ten years (I promise not to take anther ten years for the follow-up).

I came up with a lot of excuses in those ten years, believe me. Excuses based on flawed logic rather than real data — and what’s worse is my logic wasn’t even based on tangible facts, it was relying on excuses I kept making for myself:

  • English isn’t my first language, I can’t write anything meaningful in it.
  • I didn’t know what to write about, or what people want to read.
  • People don’t care about another blog on design, personal experiences of running a company or hiring and firing firing people.
  • I know I’ll fail, so it’s a waste of time to try.

I would complain about things that happened during the day, tell myself I’m too busy, too or too tired — you get the idea. It’s something that blocked me for a very long time.

“I’ve also never hired a designer or developer who didn’t have a blog or some equally meaningful and living web presence.” Jeffrey Zeldman

If writing seemed like a mountain to climb, then imagine how I felt about public speaking.

The last talk i did was three years ago, and to this day I feel it was a disaster. I hated doing it because I felt I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t have enough experience and I didn’t know what to talk about (even though I’d been in the business for such a long time and I had a lot more experience than the majority of people attending the event).

I didn’t think I’d have anything to say that’d be interesting to anyone.

I managed to overcome all of these confidence issues thanks to my life coach, Matt. It’s down to his support that I’ve re-organised my life in a way that makes me much more productive and much more confident. Only last week I managed to talk publicly at a tech-event, and it was a revelation.

I’ve built that confidence over the course of about five months of constant commitment. Now I’m happy writing online, creating podcasts and attending more talks.

And you know what? It’s great.

If people dislike what I have to say, its cool — they don’t have to read it. I’ll publish things that I like to talk about and find an audience of people who enjoy reading my content. My fear of criticism was unfounded and exaggerated.

I’ve learned that to overcome my fears, I need to take action, I need to make something out of them. I need to publish them — and thrive on any criticism. If I’m scared of something, I will face it head on and live to tell the tale — and then the fear will slowly disappear.

Every week I’ll try something new. Next week I might try to open a new company and run a different business. I might try and launch myself into a complete unknown field of work, just because I want to try, and just because I’m scared shitless.

It’ a matter of moving forward and only looking backward to learn from your mistakes. Our doubts and fears will always follow us, it’s a matter of understanding how they co-exist with our progress and productivity.

Most of the time we just need to get out of our comfort zone to start creating things.


Originally posted to SUPRALIMINAL. Liked the post? Subscribe to The Relay, my Sunday newsletter.