I’d like to pause in the Hot Button Mastery series and celebrate a personal event: my 100th blog!
Blogging – writing and drawing, sharing humorous reflections about the human psyche, the complexity of living and working with others, and the challenges of being the person we want to be in the world – has been one of the most important learning experiences and worthwhile accomplishments for me in the last ten years.
I started blogging after finishing my second French comic strip book in 2006, and realizing that I would never find a publisher for either the first or the second book I’d completed.
I had wanted to write and publish a book for a LONG time. Having studied Classical Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris, it was my measure of success, but I was paralyzed by a fear of failure and self-doubt. At 25, part of my journey of self-discovery was to unlock my creative potential, not only in writing and drawing, but also in acting and more generally, in doing.
Despite my despair over the rejection of my two comic books, the spark of creativity didn’t die in me: I still wanted and needed to put my creative voice out there in the world.
At first, I overlooked a friend’s suggestion that I create a blog, considering it a very minor art. But in April of 2007, I posted my first sequence: “It’s easy to put a blog together”. Thanks to Noah Nuer and David Brown, my colleagues at the time, my first blog Little Carotte was born. I had a small but encouraging audience that boosted me each time I doubted my writing, which was almost every day.
The process of blogging became a framework to practice, create, take risks, learn, rectify, cry and try again. Gradually, it helped me to gain ease and confidence.
In 2010, I was ready to start writing my third illustrated book. It was The Bumpy Road to Collaboration that I published in 2013, on my own, with a sense of deep satisfaction, completion and pride.
We don’t necessarily need a pen, a brush or a chisel to be an artist and we all have the capacity to be creative.
Sir Ken Robinson defines creativity as “the process of having original ideas that have value”.
Seth Godin describes the artist as “someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo.(…)Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does. Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”
My journey to become an artist and actively practice creativity was long and bumpy, but necessary, fulfilling and ultimately joyful. Of course it’s a work in progress, but I’ve learned a few key lessons that I’d like to summarize for you in four points.
1- To become an artist, I had to overcome my ingrained ego-limiting beliefs:
- “I’m not good enough, capable enough, original enough, talented enough, English enough, technical enough, precise enough, relaxed enough, extraverted enough, fast enough, disciplined enough”…
- “If I show my work, I will expose my mediocrity to the world and will be lethally judged or worst, ignored”.
2- To become an artist, I had to overcome my ego-fantasies too:
- “One day, I will be a famous author published by a prestigious elitist publishing house in France. I’ll do a book tour in all the cool bookstores in Paris and coincidentally will meet some old friends from the Sorbonne who will be amazed to see how beautiful, warm, successful and simple I still am”.
- “Wouah (French onomatopoeia)! I just wrote the most original, insightful, deep, perceptive, and funny piece ever!”
3-To become an artist, I had to get tired of the swing between deflation and inflation of my ego*, while recognizing inside of me something simple, personal and persistent: my desire to write, draw, use humor and give back to others. For you it might be something else: a desire to build a business, play the oboe, develop an innovative social idea, an eco-friendly product, energize a fragmented team, support a client, give birth to a speech, an engineering system, a community, a webinar, a child, a garden, a feast, a dance, a relationship, a family… It doesn’t matter what we want to create. What does matter is to find and nurture the desire beyond our self-worth preoccupation (ego), and put learning at the center of our practice. That’s why to become an artist, I had to define a number of learning goals- my benchmarks to stay centered, present, humble, and to ultimately find pleasure and joy.
- Learning to write AND: 1- to nourish my pleasure in using words and playing with them, whether it’s in French or in English, 2- to clarify and express my artistic and leadership voice, 3- to find personal discipline and freedom, 4- to find the words and emotions to open the heart, 5- to bring lightness to others.
- Learning to draw AND: 1- to overcome a gut feeling of powerlessness and discover that I can draw anything I want, if I put my attention on it, 2- to experience joy and fun in drawing, 3- to find visuals that can help open the heart.
- Learning to use technology– scan, Photoshop, color- AND: 1- to exercise my brain’s elasticity, 2- to express my ideas in a more compelling and rapid manner, 3- to be autonomous, 4- to find more creative ways to open the heart.
- Learning to put my ideas into action AND: 1- to complete my projects from A to Z, even if they are not perfect, 2- to model personal empowerment for my daughter and others, 3- to support anybody who feels powerless and not good enough.
- Learning to show my work to others without collapsing AND: 1- to walk the talk, 2- to let myself be seen in my “imperfections”, 3- to find personal freedom.
4- Finally, to become an artist, I had to find a support system.
Since 2007, I’ve been working with a writing coach. Susan Efros has been my on-going creative partner, support, editor, and “ear to the universe”. She kept me on track. Once I wasn’t afraid anymore to show my work to others and receive feedback from them, I got further external support.
Today, at almost 50, when I introduce myself as an executive coach, facilitator, writer and cartoonist, I almost don’t blush. I don’t think I’m a fraud, or a genius. I just practice my passion for words and images, for opening the heart and empowering leaders to find their freedom. Inevitably, I have to step outside of what becomes a new comfort zone for me, and take another risk. The more I am connected to my authentic desires shaped by my learning discipline, the less I am preoccupied with my self-worth, and the more I consistently show up as an artist, and as a blogger.
Thanks for celebrating this 100th post with me and for continuing to be such a supportive audience! I look forward the next 100…
*What we call ego-gap at Learning as Leadership