Why You Must Take Risks

Failure feels so awful we do everything we can to avoid it, but without it we don’t learn and grow. We can choose to risk nothing and remain safe but ultimately lack fulfilment and harbour a sneaking feeling that somehow we’ve cheated ourselves by selling out. Only when we put ourselves in a place of vulnerability by exposing who we truly, uniquely are, do we set ourselves free and relinquish the greater risk of never fully realising what we could have achieved. Surely that’s the real failure.

Last time I wrote about changing things, stepping back, shaking things up and returning with a fresh perspective to overcome boredom. Another way of overcoming boredom is to take risks because risks mean change and renewed energy.  It makes you more vulnerable and transparent and that discomfort is the pathway to new and better work. Being a creative who is going to fully realise their potential is not about safety and comfort. It’s about always stepping outside your comfort zone, something, I confess, I have only recently come to understand and subsequently embrace. I saw how it invigorated my art and had me producing work I would never have imagined I could do. Taking on challenges and the unknown can be exciting and really make you and your work buzz. This is what we need and crave if we have the courage to do it and step out of the box. Experimentation, risk and change are the ingredients of growth, experience and confidence that help you really know yourself and release it into your work.

Every failure is more information that leads you to vibrancy and dynamism in your work. Stop being a perfectionist – it slows everything down and kills spontaneity. Audiences really appreciate seeing how your work has evolved, how you have experimented and tripped up on your way. It makes them part of the process and connected to you and your work and that’s what we’re in the business of doing – connecting with our audience. Something polished and perfect is not as authentic and as alive as demonstrative trial and error. We’re human and imperfect, just trying our best and that is what people will respond to, that you don’t have it all worked out but you’re having a damn good go.

One of the most powerful tools that will help you take risks and in so doing take your work to the next level, is freeing yourself from other people’s opinions be they positive or negative. It’s not enough to rise above negative criticism, you must also be wary of praise. Nobody says not to enjoy it, but only temporarily. Don’t get hung up on it or need it as validation of your work. If your work is honest and the best it can be right now, be proud and confident in it. Needing praise is as deadly as allowing negative criticism to squash you. It paralyses you from taking those chances that are necessary in your work because you are afraid of losing the love. You must remember this is your process, and your work. If you produce what truly and naturally comes from you, you are doing what’s right for you and therefore what’s right for your audience.

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