Monday, December 7, 2009

What Costume Does Your Fear Wear?

Day 6 of Gwen Bell’s December blogging challenge:  Best Conference/Workshop/ Jam Session '09

The other day a friend of mine told me that she's trying to scrub this phrase from her mind forever:  'Its nice to be important, but its more important to be nice.'  Its humbling to recognize that this bon mot has been lodged in my gray matter too, because I've been a strident feminist from the time I was a little kid in my Annie Oakley costume twirling my two b-b gun revolvers.

But looking at the life I've chosen thus far, its fair to say that I've worked harder at being nice than I have at being important.  I started taking a closer look at that hard truth after the group firestarter session with Danielle LaPorte in September during which about 20 women and 1 man were inspired to pursue our entrepreneurial dreams and plans.  Over on A Design So Vast the author writes that part of Danielle's core message is: 'You have to ask for what you want.  You have to meet grace halfway.'

Recently I learned that in all the years former Fortune editor-at-large Patricia Sellers worked at that publication, not one woman asked for a raise, though plenty of men did.  I'd like to think I would have bucked that trend, but it probably isn't true.  I work for myself, and when people ask how much I charge I tend to squirm and apologize.    

Although I love what I do, up until now I've been happy laboring in obscurity.  I had tricked myself into believing that this was somehow the way to be authentic.  That doesn't make sense.  Lots of the people who have touched my life through their teaching or art have been outwardly successful.  If they hadn't been I would never have found them.

The unexamined belief: 'to be noncommercial, anti-commercial in fact, is noble and produces the best work' was really a mask for fear to hide behind.  But what is the fear? 

I realize that, as much as I hate to admit it,  I've wanted to be loved more than I've wanted to risk being shunned for standing out, because being loved and standing out are mutually exclusive. Obviously. 

Before asking for what I want, I've had to allow myself to want it in the first place.  The next step is working with the fear of actually getting it.  I don't mind if the fear is in the room, as long as it isn't blocking the door.

Have you dealt with the fear of success?  How do you work with it?

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