Being an artist, writer, entrepreneur, or any kind of creative person (any kind of human, really) can sometimes be a discouraging journey.
At times, it can feel like you are yelling into the void of the Internet…hoping somebody will notice you. I speak from experience.
You pitch 20 publishers but nobody wants to give you a book deal.
You email 10 potential clients but nobody wants to hire you right now.
You reach out to 5 journalists but nobody is even remotely interested in doing a story on your company.
You put up flyers about a free class you’re leading. C’mon people, it’s free! Who could possibly say no! But then 1 person shows up and asks, “Uh, is this the right place? Am I too early?” And you swell with shame and realize you bought way too many donuts.
You begin to feel like you’re begging, pleading, and groveling for the things you want and need. Which does not feel good.
As one person said to me recently, “Hearing ‘no’ I can handle. It’s the silence that really hurts. When I email someone and it’s just…crickets. That’s when I really feel like a failure.”
After a long string of disappointments, your ego is bruised. You, understandably, begin to feel discouraged. You’ve been burned too many times. It’s hard to motivate yourself to keep trying. Why bother? It won’t work. There’s probably no point.
And then, this defeated energy begins to permeate everything you do. Your emails stink of it. Your body language, your facial expression, everything exudes discouragement, bitterness, resentment. People can smell it. And this doesn’t exactly make people eager to work with you.
And so, the cycle of disappointment continues. You feel increasingly frustrated, invisible, and powerless.
How do you break the cycle?
You have to take back your power.
You have to stop waiting for someone to say “yes” to you, and instead, say “yes” to yourself. Be your own yes.
You want to speak onstage? Host your own event and speak there.
You want to be a guest on an amazing podcast? Start your own amazing podcast.
You want to be an author? Write and self-publish your own book.
You want to win an award? Instead of waiting for someone to notice and choose you, choose yourself. Nominate yourself. (Hot tip: most people win awards because they took 30 minutes to fill out an online form and nominated themselves.) Or create your own award and give one to somebody else.
Instead of waiting to be invited to the cool party, throw your own cool party.
Instead of waiting for the world to be generous with you, be generous with the world. And then, this generosity of spirit tends to boomerang back to you.
History is full of countless examples of people who “started their own thing” and that beautiful “thing” eventually grew into something much bigger.
The Joy of Cooking began as a self-published cookbook.
Issa Rae’s self-created webTV show eventually gained a fanbase, and then her pilot got picked up by HBO and became the hit show Insecure.
Luvvie Ajayi started her blog as a hobby, a place to share her rants and randomness, and that blog eventually unfolded into a TED Talk and bestselling book.
My friend Susan started hosting garden parties in her backyard. She’d serve a meal and lead a seminar on how to achieve your goals. Nobody was inviting her to speak to audiences (at the time) so she figured, “I’ll just do it behind my house on the lawn.” Humble beginnings. Now she gets paid (very well) for her work as a motivational speaker and life coach.
You can wait forever for someone to say “yes” and unlock a door for you. Or you can build your own door, build your own key, build your own house. And when you run your own house, then you can be the person who unlocks doors for others. That’s real power.
You are more powerful than you think.
What is the power you’ve given away…and how could you take it back?