It’s brutal work.
When you spend days, months, or years working on something, you can’t help but become attached.
And with attachment comes fear:
- Fear of failure.
- Fear of shame.
- Fear of success.
- Fear of embarrassment.
- Fear of everything (it feels that way at least…).
This fear can be paralyzing; it makes us not want to ship (and sometimes, it succeeds).
Instead of recognizing these feelings as the same fears we have EVERY time we do something unique, new, or bold, we instead rationalize:
"If we get a few more hours (days, years), we can make our project perfect…"
"It’s not ready – I need more time to make it perfect…"
"I shouldn’t ship, it’s not good enough yet, and if it’s not good enough at the launch, I’ll ruin all my hard work…"
"I should pay a professional to look it over one more time…"
"Maybe everything I’ve done is a waste, a rehash, phony…I should just scrap it…"
Of course, once we ship we realize something impossible to recognize before we ship: these thoughts are simply ways we justify our cowardice.
What we’re really saying is: I don’t want to find out if I’m worthy; better to never ship and never find out, than ship and be found wanting.
But worthy of what?
And found wanting of what?
It’s Just Business
All art is personal.
It has to be this way; if it wasn’t personal it would lack personality, and art that lacks personality isn’t art. It’s a ruse; a cover-up; a façade…but it’s definitely not art.
Every venture of the creative entrepreneur (whether a canvas painting, a business startup, or a paradigm shifting book) is inherently art.
We put our hearts and souls into launching a business…
We give up parties and social engagements to work nights and weekends finishing our book…
We slave over every word, image, and formatted paragraph in the pursuit of the perfect blog presentation…
You’ve probably heard this quote more than once: “Nothing personal, it’s just business.”
For the creative entrepreneur, this statement is an oxymoron; it’s entirely personal BECAUSE it’s business.
Anxiety Before Shipping
And so we’re sitting in front of our computer, ready to push the publish button; or on the phone with a client, ready to make our pitch and close; or standing at the easel, putting the final touch-ups onto canvas…
And these thoughts race through our mind (even though we know better)…
And they make us feel as if the result has already happened.
So if our project might not resonate like we want it to, it hurts now.
If people might ignore us in the future, it hurts now.
If people might hate us once we ship, it hurts now.
Feeling future pain in the present is called anxiety. It’s utterly pointless, irrational, and impractical – but that doesn’t make its effect on us any less real.
The Only Solution
It doesn’t matter if you have a professional edit your book just one more time before shipping – you still won’t think it’s ready.
It doesn’t matter if you have more time to make the project perfect – it will never be perfect.
It doesn’t matter if everything is set for the perfect launch – you will still find ways to imagine the worst.
None of it matters because, no matter what you do before you ship, you’re still going to feel bad, you’re still going to hurt, and you’re still going to question your project and yourself
And so the only solution is to ship.
It's to do something - to complete something - to take something from start to finish and allow others to interact with the final product, no matter how uncomfortable, pained, or scared you feel.
No, this doesn't get rid of the discomfort, pain, or fear (nothing can)...but at the end of the day, you've created something from scratch, something that has the chance to interact with another person and make an impact...
And that really is the only solution.
In Case You're Interested...
I built a product to help you ship.
I call it The Gunslinger's Guide to Starting (and its corresponding workbook: The Gunslinger's Workbook), and I sincerely believe it will help you start, finish, and ship your project in 30 days or less.
It's nothing mind blowing or even original. You've probably read it all before.
But it's not originality that matters - it's effectiveness.
I used the same framework outlined in my guide and the same steps outlined in my workbook to:
- Build this blog
- Write The Art of Instigating
- Write the Gunslinger's Guide to Starting
- Build The Gunslinger's Workbook
- Produce my first podcast (coming soon!)
- Craft my next start up (coming in March)
So does it work? Yes, at least for me. And I think it will do the same for you.
It's free and exclusive to Resistance Members.
So if you haven't yet, join our growing army and become a part of The Resistance. Subscribe below:
Thanks for this Tom!
Love the statement about business being personal because it's business. That's so true. There's no fine line, no black and white dichotomy. If it's something you're hugely passionate about and want to build a legacy around, it's deeply personal! And that's great! We tend to get caught up in the belief that we have to separate our personal and business selves, but who says we have to? We're one person after all. Plus, if we're passionate about it and want to build that legacy, can we afford NOT to ship? Of course not!
Thanks again for the engaging material!
Lehua, thanks for taking the time to read and comment!
I completely agree about building a legacy - it IS deeply personal. It doesn't mean everyone needs to create a business this way, of course, but for those who do (the creative entrepreneurs), it's most definitely personal.
Thanks so much, and I hope it continues to be engaging!!
Good stuff Tom,
Looking forward to giving you some feedback on the Gunslingers Guide and workbook as well. Thanks for sharing that with us.
Great thoughts above as well. The FEAR of shipping is real...especially for those of us who make our living as "creatives". It's never easy to hear from someone that your idea "isn't right for them" or "I've heard that one before". Living as a creative is one of the toughest occupations in the world but we are LIVING. The members of this tribe must remember that we have the blessing (or the curse) of being eternal optimists. We desperately want to succeed and are willing to put our HEARTS and SOULS into our creations.
When the FEAR instinct envelops me, I try to remember to do this little exercise. I remove myself from anything related to the current "Creative Space" and ask myself this question. "What's the worst thing that can happen". I write down whatever comes into my head in my moleskin journal. The truth is it's never really that bad. It's never something that I couldn't get over or learn from. The truth is that FEAR is just another way of us being and feeling ALIVE. I say don't be afraid to embrace it once in a while and learn from it. It just might give us a push in the right direction.
Thanks again Tom
Awesome stuff Alan! Thanks so much for sharing!
It's true - we can learn from fear every time; and I totally agree with you about fear reminding us we are alive. And that DOES matter (because it means we're doing important things).
Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Alan.
Definitely let me know what you think of the guide and workbook!