Image by aleksey.const (Creative Commons)
After watching an old 2009 interview of Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) on Tavis Smiley, I was intrigued to hear how he struggled to develop self-belief. His life story teaches us a great deal about where self-validation, courage, and self-confidence come from.
Are we born with it? Do we develop it—and if so, how?
These questions are hard to answer, but Jackon’s tale leaves us clues. (Hint: It’s developed through force of will.)
Living in Queens, New York, Curtis Jackson began to learn the craft of song writing from his mentor, Jam Master Jay. But he was often tempted to trash his dream altogether, and instead make fast, easy money by peddling crack cocaine. The more he tried to break free from the drug game, the more it seemed to pull him back in.
Jackson was internally divided between two lives—a life of dealing drugs or making music. But his rap gig was starting to sputter. He was getting older and his chance of getting recognized in the industry was vanishing. Jackson explains how he handled the uncertainty:
I thought I was ready in 97. And I didn’t have a major record company marketing to promote my project till’ 2003. So for that time period I had to run on my own energy.
The real artist endures guilt and fear. Instead of dwelling on these emotions, she uses them to fuel her greatest creative efforts.
I have a lot of bad habits that keep me from doing my best work. Instead of writing, my amateur mentality will always be there to coax me into taking a nap, or surfing the web, or getting drunk.
I think these avoidance habits stem from fear. I resist doing my work because I cringe at the idea of failure, rejection, being exposed. These fears lead to inactivity, procrastination, constant delaying.
Do you let bad habits prevent you from doing your work? If you do, then you know what usually comes next.
Guilt is that hollow feeling that gnaws at the pit of our stomachs. Guilt reminds us we’re cowards and phonies for not pursuing our dreams.
At this point we reach a crossroads—do we take the path of the pseudo artist or the real artist?
The only way to learn how to make a moving film or write a page-turning story is to make crap and learn from our mistakes.
Todays article explains why focusing on quantity is a more effective way to produce awesome work, than merely focusing on quality.
David Bayles and Ted Orland, in their book Art & Fear: Observations on The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, draw attention to an experiment done by a ceramics teacher.
It rang true for me. It went like this:
The ceramics teacher divided the class into two groups, A and B. Group A was assigned to focus on making as many pots as they possibly could—they would be graded on quantity. If they made 50 pounds of pots they would receive an A grade, if they made 40 pounds worth they would receive a B, and so on.