A young man approached Henry Kissinger, a renowned diplomat and a former U.S. Secretary of State, and asked, “Mr. Kissinger, can you give some career advice.”
“No,” said Kissinger in a gruff voice.
Disappointed, the young man turned around to go away. Kissinger stopped him and explained, “My advice is ‘no.’ Always let your first answer be a no.”
To move mountains, you have to learn to say no. You have to learn to be selective in the tasks you say yes to. You have to learn to focus. Because energy flows towards the place, you focus your attention on.
Once there was a donkey who was thirsty as well as hungry. The donkey spotted some hay on one side and water on the opposite side.
But the donkey didn’t know which one to go to first.
The donkey looked at the hay; then it looked at the water. Looked at the hay looked at the water. Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Am I hungry? Am I thirsty?
And eventually, the donkey died of dehydration.
Sometimes we are that donkey. Should I make this? Should I make that? Should I write this? Should I write that? And we don’t even start.
But for some reason we feel productive. Because we are thinking about it. Thinking about stuff is not doing stuff. It’s the complete opposite of doing stuff. We fall int the trap of deliberation, pondering, questioning, thinking, strategizing, and debating, it might feel like we are moving forward, but we are stuck.
Doing a bit of this and a bit of that is like laying single brick of a million different houses and expecting that one day it will magically become a mansion. It’s not going to happen.
You can do ten things to one degree or you can do one thing to the tenth degree.
Rather than spreading yourself, do one thing. Draw the same thing every single day. Paint in one medium everyday. Sketch the same cartoon character everyday. Write a poem (or an an article or a short story) everyday.
And this is true for work too. This is true for dating versus committing yourself to one person friendship, everything. Really focusing and investing yourself into something you’re passionate about will always yield better results than scattering yourself around.
Adele Adkins is one of the world’s best music artists but there is something that not many people know. She is afraid of her audience. She has crazy stage fright.
Being such a talented artist, she still hates touring and putting on live shows. Because she has a crazy fear. What if the audience think that my recorded performance is better than my live performance?
So how did Adele overcome her stage fright?
Adele did something that made her stage fright manageable. She learnt a trick from a fellow musician – Beyonce.
Beyonce created an alter-ego to fight her stage fright. Her calls her alter-ego — Sasha Fierce. As soon as Beyonce would put on her shoes and hear the crowd, her alter-ego Sasha Fierce would take over. And Sasha Fierce has no fear. Beyonce created a character that she could put on, like other people put on clothes.
When Adele heard about it, she too created an own alter-ego. She called it, Sasha Carter, which is a mix of Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce and country music star June Carter. Sasha Carter could get on stage and blow the audience away.
Why did such a crazy thing like creating an alter-ego work?
Adele’s fear was not based on fact, but on belief. She criticized herself because of a what-if scenario.
The mind is a crazy thing. When it criticizes itself, it causes all sorts of problems.
Alter-ego builds distance between the mind and the behavior.
Self distancing is the key. Self distancing allows you to view yourself more objectively. It allows you to see the bigger picture and not be bogged down with feelings.
Alter-ego works because it helps you build self distance.
When I started writing I created an alter-ego too – Ms Jolly. Here is snapshot from my website where I introduce her.
Your alter-egos don’t have to be forever. Alter-egos are tools that help you accept yourself when you change your behaviour.
But your behavior changes you too. Acting confident indeed makes you feel more confident.
Beyonce acknowledged in 2010 that she had killed Sasha Fierce. Sasha Fierce helped Beyonce with public performances. But when Beyonce got over her fear she outgrew the need for her alter-ego.
Face whatever fear you have for your creativity by creating and alter-ego.
— — — — — — — — —
If you like my work, subscribe to my newsletter A Whimsical Writer.