Walking down the street yesterday morning, I realized everything I had been trying to do wasn't enough. Not like I don't have a million plates spinning at once and six different creative dreams hammering away in my brain. Not like I don't work hard or work diligently or accomplish things on time. Not like there wasn't quantity, but rather there wasn't quality. I was reaching for things that were too easy.
When my big goal was to be on Broadway, I told my therapist that I just needed to get into an ensemble and prove my way to understudy so that eventually I could take on lead roles. She asked me why I was creating a set of dues to pay when I actually wanted to play leads now. I didn't have an answer.
Fast forward a little bit, and here I am at the same place. I've written my book. It's actually pretty good albeit not quite cooked, and I'm thinking about low level success. This is partly because I just really enjoy the work. I really like to write and this book satisfies a need in me to create something new every day. So if I like the work, the success (if there is any) seems like icing on the cake, not the aim. But what I realized is that I can be both satisfied with the process and have a book that becomes a bestseller. Or at least does slightly better than my ho hum dreams of selling a bunch of books to my family and calling it quits.
What made me realize how small I was playing was realizing that my strategy was way off. I kept thinking about the odds of getting a traditional publisher to publish someone who has absolutely no platform on which to stand. I kept thinking about the trials of self-publishing and what it's like to market yourself and how doggedly you have to pursue people to just read your book and offer a review, much less a good review. I kept thinking about the next book I want to write, and the documentary I want to make, and the play I want to develop. I kept thinking, if I try to get this book too big, I won't have time for any of those other things.
But if I get this book big, all I'll have is time (and clout) to do all of those things. Dreams of staying small and modest mean that each time I create something new, I've only got small and modest legs to stand on. I don't have the momentum of press or the connections of other bloggers or the evidence that I can do something well and worthy in the world.
Nothing gets created in humility.
I think we're playing too small, gang. I know it's not just me. I don't think we should all run off and join the circus because it's a magical dream we've carried with us since childhood despite the fact that we have no flexibility and a fear of heights. I'm implying that we water down the things we're good at because we're strategizing the wrong way. I know nothing about marketing a book, so instead of spending my hard earned money on DIY campaigns, why don't I hire someone who knows all about it? Instead of spending my lil' bit'a savings on how-to books or new clothing or incredibly over-priced cups of coffee, why don't I scrap together enough dough to employ someone who knows what the hell they're doing so my book gets into the right (and numerous) hands?
See I had the wrong strategy playing small. I thought it was much more likely I'd see it through that way, but the truth is, I'm much more likely to get winded, slow down, and give up that way. If we reach a little bit higher than we're comfortable with, we're not going to totally fail. Maybe we will fall short, but we'll be further along than we anticipated.
Again: nothing gets created in humility.
Let's ego up, shall we?