Walk with the Wise
Despite what so many classic rock songs have told us about authority— that it only exists to be resisted and challenged—it’s actually a gift. Good, trustworthy authority brings stability to our lives. Have you ever had a really effective manager who made you feel like you were protected but who also spoke directly and candidly to you when you needed it? That’s what really good authority looks like.
Not all of us are gifted with this kind of manager. Unfortunately, some people use their authority to abuse others, get their own way, or make themselves look good at the expense of the people they lead. Even if that’s the case for you, it’s still possible to seek good authority in your life to help you make better decisions, learn, and grow in your skill sets.
In my bookThe Accidental Creative, I wrote about the importance of forming a “core team.” This is a small group of people who have per- mission to speak truth to you and help you make better decisions. They might be people who are a little further down the path than you and who have visibility into your life and career. But most importantly, they care about you. They want to see you thrive.
Do you have a core team? If not, who might be able to play that role for you?
When we walk with the wise, we grow wise.
It’s Not for You
The criticisms that others levy upon you can obsess your thinking, espe- cially when negative feedback hits close to your insecurities. A particular critique targets an area that you’re already unsure about, and before you know it, you are adapting your work to make it more palatable to people who probably don’t care all that much anyway. At least they don’t really care about you or about the work you do as much as they care about making their own opinions heard.
I was speaking at a conference a few years ago, and one of the other speakers, Seth Godin, said from the stage, “The moment you are willing to say ‘it’s not for you,’ you are freed up to make art.” What he meant is that not everything you make is for everyone who experiences it. You need to deeply understand who you are making things for and be unashamed about crafting your work with that person in mind. And if other people simply don’t get it, it’s fine. You can say “it’s not for you.”
To be clear, that means your work might not bring you commercial success. But most of the work that becomes culturally defining began with a specific point of view and an audience for whom it was crafted.
Not everything you make is for everyone. Become comfortable saying “it’s not for you.”
Who is, or should be, a part of your core team?