How do you face your creative fears?

Aisling’s notes: As artists, we all deal with that double-headed demon, fear of failure/success. In this article, musician Bob Baker discusses some options when immobilized by these fears.

How Do You Face Your Creative Fears?

by Bob Baker

Gloria, a subscriber to my “Quick Tips for Creative People” e-zine, recently sent this note:

“Do you have anything on self-discipline and overcoming the fear of failure/success? I feel very enthusiastic when I do things, but the demons of fear just creep up on me. I do not want to repress them any longer; I am fed up with them. But I know it’s easier said than done. SOS: I do not want to be a chained slaved to my fears any longer. Help me help myself!”

Well, I’m flattered that Gloria felt comfortable in turning to me for some advice, but I’m also a bit fearful myself in tackling such a widespread obstacle to success. But I’ll give it a shot.

First, let’s turn to Marsha Sinetar for some perspective. In her book To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love, she writes: “Almost all of us fear our potentials … Generally, fear’s message is that we’re not yet ready to be, do or have what we want. The way out of this dilemma is through a change of mind about ourselves — not simply the gaining of technical skills or textbook knowledge.”

Throughout her book, Sinetar encourages readers to play with their visions of a life that’s true to their purpose. I agree. Using your head for “possibility thinking” is extremely important in gaining confidence and getting mentally prepared for reaching higher levels of success.

But I also belief the best formula for living dreams is a balanced combination of THOUGHTS and ACTIONS. Nothing gives you confidence like having attempting something new that is in line with your creative passion. Whether it’s taking a painting class, going to a theatre audition, writing the first chapter of your novel … each small step builds a stepping stone to the next level.

Taking a closer look at Gloria’s note, I find the solutions to her dilemma woven into her very own words.

She writes: “I feel very enthusiastic when I do things …” She feels best when she is engaged in your passion. As she continues to do more things, her enthusiasm (and belief that she was meant to pursue her path) will grow.

“I do not want to repress (my fears) any longer; I am fed up with them.” Gloria has taken it upon herself to face her fears, not avoid them. By acknowledging her paranoia, she brings it out in the open, where it’s far easier to tame. She’s also grown frustrated with her fears, and discontent can be one of our greatest motivators.

In her book, Marsha Sinetar also says that successful people have “belief systems and self-ideas that support their life’s objectives. Underneath doubts, stronger than fear, lives the thought: ‘I can do this. I will do this. I am doing it!'”

Gloria also writes: “Help me help myself!” This is the most encouraging line in the note. She’s not blaming the world for her ills or laying excuses at the feet of her circumstances. She’s taking on the responsibility of wrestling this demon herself, which makes me realize she is right on track to slay this dragon.

Keep in mind, though, artists never reach a point where their creative lives are void of fear. It will never go away. But with a solid combination of positive thoughts and self-affirming actions, you can keep the little monsters very much under control.

P.S. Be sure to take a closer look at Marsha Sinetar’s two best-selling books: To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love and Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

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Whose fault is it…?

Aisling’s notes: We’ve all had comments, emails, posts, and even our art misinterpreted… sometimes badly. In this article, musician & business consultant Bob Baker gives insight into what may have gone wrong, and how to prevent it from recurring.

Whose Fault Is It When You Don’t Get the Career Results You Want?

by Bob Baker

Human communication is a crazy thing. You tell somebody something with the intention of getting a certain response … and the person reacts in a completely unpredictable manner, sometimes with disastrous results. Let’s examine this topic and see how we can apply the lessons learned to promoting, selling and enjoying your creative talents.

You’ve had this happen to you at one time or another: You make a funny comment to a friend or family member based on something silly you’ve just been thinking about. Instead of laughter, you get frustration, maybe even a hostile reaction.

“How could they react that way?” you ask. “My intention was to make them laugh or feel good. How dare they misinterpret what I meant to do!” A lot of folks place the blame on the deranged individual who responded so radically.

Now switch to a freelance writer sitting down to write a sales letter she’ll use to drum up work. She knows she’s capable and has won a number of contests and has lots of published clips to show. So she gets to work writing about her qualifications and why editors should call her when they need freelance help.

The letters go out. Weeks pass by. No editors call.

“What’s wrong with these people?” she cries. “I gave them all the reasons I’m a good freelance writer, but none of these jerks is calling me!” She knew what her intention was. Why wasn’t her vision becoming reality?

This writer had made the mistake of not separating INTENT from RESULTS.

Intent is what you WANT or HOPE will happen. Results are WHAT HAPPENS. When it comes to communicating, your intent doesn’t matter. Results are the only thing you should be focusing on.

If you aren’t getting the results you want, do a little research and try a different approach. Even if you think your new brochure is the best thing since Ricky Martin … If it ain’t gettin’ the results you want and need … figure out what’s wrong and change it!

As a creative person, you are very focused on your art. You’re dedicated. Your brain percolates with dozens of ways to approach your current project. You nurture and refine your talent. In other words, you are very focused on … YOU.

That’s great for art … but not for marketing, promoting and selling your talents.

Our writer friend above, like many freelances, might eventually discover that sending letters that pitch specific story ideas get the most response from editors. Some writers I know even list five or six different tailor-made topics — one of which is likely to catch the editor’s eye.

Of course, that would mean the letter would have to focus primarily on the editor and publication receiving it … NOT on the writer herself.

So don’t get too attached to your intent, or get too angry when people don’t react as much and as quickly as you want. The only thing that matters are RESULTS. Focus on them and you may end up getting a lot more of what you want.

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

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Ultimate Creative Conspiracy Theory

Aisling’s note: We’ve all had times when the deck seems stacked against us. And, we’ve all had times of soaring success when others around us seemed to falter no matter what. (And vice versa.) This article by Bob Baker offers an intriguing alternative view that’s worth trying.

The Ultimate Creative Conspiracy Theory

by Bob BakerWhether it’s the second gunman on the grassy knoll, the alien mystery at Roswell or what really is hidden within the high-security confines of Area 51… conspiracy theories abound. Many of us are amused by the speculation, while hardcore buffs examine every nuance looking for clues to support their version of the story.

If you’ll notice, all of these conspiracy theories involve some type of dastardly deed or cover-up. Someone is out to brainwash us or hide the facts from the public. After all, “the truth is out there,” according to X-Files scripture. I never seem to hear people suspecting, for instance, a conspiracy by furniture salesman to stuff money into the nooks and crannies of the couches they sell. Yet I always find change under the cushions when I clean. Hmm… maybe they’re secretly… Oh, never mind.

There’s another kind of conspiracy conjurer. You know the type. The artist, musician or writer who believes the deck has been stacked against him or that nobody will ever give her a break. “This town is just not artist-friendly,” he/she proclaims. “This sucks. Why bother?”

To listen to these people, you’d think the radio stations, theatre groups, art galleries (or whatever venue applies) were all part of a sick joke, trying to obliterate creative growth. And just like the bigger conspiracy nuts, they find clues and plenty of ammo to support their claims.

“See, that guy never returned my call,” they announce. “I can’t buy a job in this town.” Anything even remotely inconvenient that happens to them lends credence to the devious master plot.

Here’s a fun little game that I challenge you to play. It’s called the Inverse Conspiracy Game. For one entire day, I encourage you to go through the day believing wholeheartedly that there is a conspiracy involving you. Only with this Inverse Conspiracy, the whole world and everyone in it are involved in a conspiracy to help you succeed.

If you’re familiar with the recent Jim Carey movie “The Truman Show,” you know what I mean. In the film, everything that happens to the main character is a preplanned scene — only he has no idea it’s fabricated.

So for one day, imagine that everyone is pitching in on a secret mission to help you. There’s a positive reason behind everything that happens to you. Even seemingly negative events are put into action in order to propel you toward a reward that’s just around the corner. And it’s your job to break the code and figure out exactly how the world intends for you to use what happens to your advantage.

True, this isn’t your father’s conspiracy theory. It will take some brain work to reorient your mental perspective — especially to keep it up for an entire day. But just think how this shift in attitude might alter your progress. You’ll be forced to view everything in a far more constructive light. And when bad things do happen, it will be your mission to find the hidden opportunity (instead of more reasons to stop trying to reach your creative goals).

Give this inverse conspiracy theory a try. You can always go back to looking for evil schemes and cover-ups. In the meantime, you just might discover an alien on a grassy knoll waiting to help you succeed.

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

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Why New Year’s resolutions fail

Survey finds that only 9% of Americans are serious about achieving their goals. 51% don’t have New Year’s Resolutions and of those that do, 79% don’t have a plan to achieve them.

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) December 1, 2004
A survey conducted by the Gail Kasper consulting group, a leading speaking and coaching company, found that Americans aren’t taking their futures very seriously.

Specifically, 51% of those surveyed do not have New Year’s resolutions. To the contrary, 99% of respondents felt they were capable of accomplishing more in their lives.

So the question remains: Why aren’t we doing something about it?

The survey which was complete by a random group of 104 adults over 18 years of age, also asked respondents to identify the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Years Resolutions or goals. The top 3 reasons identified were as follows:

  • Procrastinating 33%
  • Lack of discipline 24%
  • No game plan 19%

Interestingly enough, 10% of individuals felt the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Year’s Resolutions or goals was “doing it alone.”

Supporting these results, participants were also asked if they felt they needed to improve their lives in specific areas such as personal confidence, family relationships, involvement in clubs/organizations, developing supportive friendships, their physical appearance (excluding weight), weight, financial stability, health/working out, career, and education.

99% of respondents felt they needed to improve in more than one area of life while over 90% of respondents felt they needed to improve in 5 or more areas.

The area that required the greatest improvement was developing financial stability, followed by health/working out, and losing weight.

To summarize, the survey indicates that 99% of respondents feel they need to improve their lives, but only 9% are actively doing something about it.

“We do want more and we all know we can do more with our lives, but 91% of us aren’t doing anything about it. We are an instant gratification society and advertisers count on consumer’s need for instant gratification to keep them purchasing.

“Whether it’s the latest technology, a new home or new car, we thrive on adding that next big thing to our own personal inventories.

“The average American spends $1.22 for every dollar they earn and the average credit card debt per household is over $8500,” said Gail Kasper, time management and motivational strategist.

Want To Do Something About It? “Planning for the future would bring long term positive results and achievement,” continues Kasper. “Initially, you may feel that you are sacrificing because you are not out on a Saturday spending your paycheck and you are now at home learning a new software program, but only your choices have changed.

“You are taking steps to achieve excellence in specific areas of life and this process becomes a personal growth experience – whether it’s learning a new software package, taking an aerobics class, developing your creative mind through reading, joining a club, or taking a college class.

“You will be healthier and your life will be more fulfilled. You will find immediate gratification because you are developing you.”

Gail Kasper, the author of the recently released time management and life strategy audio program, Make a Decision to Win, suggests these 6 simple steps to getting on track and living your New Year’s Resolutions and goals.

1. A support system is essential. When growing up, you have your parents to keep you on track. At work, you have your boss. Eventually you must come to the conclusion that you are accountable for your life.

With 10% of individuals indicating that their #1 reason for not achieving a New Year’s Resolution is that they don’t want to ‘do it alone’ and over 30% indicating that they ‘procrastinate,’ it’s time to develop a support system to keep you on track and hold you accountable.

It may be a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or family member, or perhaps it’s time to have a “goal planning” party. There are Tupperware parties, make-up parties, botox parties, so how about a “goal planning” party.

19% of individuals don’t “have a game plan” and many times goals don’t get achieved because of our inability to know how to proceed. One brainstorming session where others share their ideas and experiences can propel you to the next level of achievement.

2. Schedule a meeting with yourself. That’s right, schedule a 30 minute meeting… with you! When you decide that you “want” something whether it’s a purchase or a vacation, you are tenacious about it. Isn’t it time to be tenacious about your life? When you meet with yourself, ask yourself this question: where do I want to be 5 years from now? And write down the response. This will give you a clear direction for where you want to go.

3. Have a Daily Planning System. Gene Donohue once said that the difference between a goal and a dream is the written word. So get your electronic organizer, daily planner or other method of choice and write down your goals. Writing them down will make it “important” and give seriousness to the task. It will bring your goals to life.

4. Identify the specific date and time to start tasks. Next to those goals, write down the specific tasks you must do to complete those goals. These specific tasks are placed in your daily planning system.

So if next week, you plan to go to the gym, identify the specific date and time you will go. For each task, identify the date and time you will do that task.

5. Design your value system. A value system is who you are and how you choose to live your life. It’s your standard operating procedure. If you are a caring, hard working, honest with yourself, loyal individual – these values will define the process for how you will move forward with your goals. And these values will define the choices you make with your life.

An individual who is “honest with themselves” will not pretend they are working toward a goal when they’re not. They will admit that they have fallen off track and will get back on. A value system is key. It defines you and the steps you take.

6. Celebrate every accomplishment. We are a negative society. We see what we haven’t accomplished, rather than the steps that we have taken. Any effort or energy you give to what you haven’t accomplished will only slow you down. Celebrate every accomplishment, keep the momentum, and look toward tomorrow.

Action creates results!

Gail Kasper is an internationally renowned motivational strategist. Multi-billion dollar companies, top CEOs, associations, Ivy League universities and professional sports teams have adopted Gail’s ideas, leadership techniques and sales programs to increase performance and achievement. She is the author of the life strategy audio CD program Make a Decision to Win.Gail is the former Mrs. New Jersey America 2002 and has co-hosted the Emmy award-winning America’s TV JobNetwork (airing on CBS and Fox). She currently hosts The Visitor’s Channel. Coupling a business degree with psychology studies Gail is a nationally recognized certified trainer. For more information please visit www.gailkasper.com.

For survey results and holiday tips, please visit: www.gailkasper.com/2005survey

To arrange an interview or appearance with Gail Kasper, please contact: Laine Latimer 503-859-2299 ###

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How to pace your art classes

Planning your classes and workshops is always important. However, you should think about pacing as well as actual content. “Pacing” applies to you–your personal style of teaching–but also to your students. In fact, your students should be your first concern.

Divide the day into thirds, at least

I’ve always figured what we’d accomplish in the morning, then what can be done by mid-afternoon, and finally what will wind things down happily as students become tired at the end of the day.

Generally, I do most of my teaching in the morning while students can still absorb a lot of information. Immediately after lunch, I try to tackle questions, and improvise demos if students need a little extra help.

By mid-afternoon, it’s never wise to teach new information. At that point, I’m mostly a cheerleader to keep students from going too far with their work, and prevent them from quitting if the art isn’t turning out as they’d expected.

And, at lengthy events, I also consider where we are in the week.

The pace varies during multi-day events

On the first day, many students are easily distracted and new folks can be anxious about how these classes are run. It can take them until 3 p.m. to unwind enough to start doing what they’ll consider “good” work.

By contrast on the last day, I’ll need to explain things in more detail if it’s a new technique. Students are tired and a bit dazed at that point. And, by three in the afternoon, they’re looking for an excuse to go back to their room and catch a nap.

Permission helps

Especially on that last day, I’ll start my class by saying that nobody needs my permission to leave at any time, especially by mid- afternoon. They can leave for a cigarette, for some munchies, or even for a nap, and return to class later. Or, they can pack up early if they like.

Since I started making that announcement, people are vastly happier and actually tend to stay later. If they know that they can leave if they want to, they relax and aren’t so antsy by three or so.

But, by one or two in the afternoon on the last day, many students have already max’d on what they can learn.

If I am teaching more technique then, I’ll need to demo it at least twice–usually two different ways–with the second demo being very s-l-o-w for those who are truly exhausted, or have “information overload.”

Plan for a variable pace through the day and through the week. It’s better to plan hour-by-hour, than to simply “wing it” with a vague, general plan for the day.

No two teachers will use the same planning methods. Find what works best for you, and allows the most flexibility. When the students go home happy after one of your classes, you’ll feel amply rewarded for the extra preparation time.

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