Holding back

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  Mainly:

  • How am I holding myself back?
  • What am I holding myself back from?
  • And most importantly – why?

At times, there are legitimate reasons to hold back – whether it be emotional control in personal or professional relationships, not eating lots of sugar because it makes me feel terrible, or simply going to bed at a reasonable, consistent time so that I accomplish what I want to accomplish each day.

For me, those are some great reasons to hold back.

I’ve come to realize though, that there are other ways that I’m holding myself back – in more subtle, subconscious ways that aren’t so great for me.  I’ve been working on the question ‘why am I holding back myself back from my own potential’ lately.

That is a difficult one to answer.

I’ve totally fallen in love with podcasts recently, and have been listening to all kinds of them (there are SO MANY truly fabulous ones – not enough time in the day!).  In the last week, I’ve discovered The Tim Ferriss Show and I gotta confess that I totally love it.  What I like most is his down-to-earth honesty mixed in with this drive to do awesome stuff, and to just generally explore awesomeness in many arenas.

Because, why not.

I’ve listened to him interview both Vince Vaughn and Jason Khalipa – they’re both people that haven’t held themselves back.  They’ve both accomplished so much, and from very different perspectives and in very different arenas.  While I don’t think either of them would say that they’ve had perfect journeys, what they both seem to have in common is a general joy and curiosity about what they were doing, mixed in with a drive to achieve for some larger purpose.

What a fantastic combination.

I love hearing these stories because it makes me stop and consider what I’m striving for – what brings me joy, what I have deep curiosity for, and what gives me a sense of a greater purpose.

I keep coming back to writing.  I’ve been a huge reader, editor and writer-in-secret for as long as I can remember.  And I’ve been asking myself why I’ve held myself back from this for so long.

What I keep coming back to is fear.  I’ve been afraid.  I’ve been afraid to write more frequently because I was afraid I may be terrible at it.  Or that people may target me for it.  But the new question I’ve chosen to ask myself after listening to so many very human stories on podcasts is – is writing something I would do anyway? For the love it, for the joy and curiosity – even if I start at the bottom.  And the answer is yes.

I’ve been reading Adam Grant’s great book, ‘Originals‘.  He references the work of psychologist Dean Simonton, who has spent his career studying creative productivity. Grant says:

‘Simonton finds that on average, creative geniuses weren’t qualitatively better in their fields than their peers.  They simply produced a greater volume of work, which gave them more variation and a higher chance of originality’.

I find that so relieving.  Everything I put out there doesn’t have to be sprinkled with pixie dust – I just have to keep working.  Thanks, Simonton and Grant.

I’ve been working on quieting my ‘lizard brain‘.  It’s going to be a long journey.  But something tells me it’s going to be fun.

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