Tips for Fishing and Living # 28

Tip # 28:

“Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.”

                                                                    Ernest Hemingway

Sometimes the one looking over your shoulder is you. It’s called you’re own personal, self-critic. Some call it “the editor within.” I call it the over-seer. And it isn’t about to just allow you to do what you know you can do, and what you have the desire to do, but instead this inner voice goes about telling you whatever it needs to tell you, in a full out effort to stop you. And here’s the thing: we often let it do this to us by cooperating way too easily.

There are good reasons, and there are valid justifications for editing and critiquing our work, but this is not the time for them. Editing, or a criticalness that will likely advance your efforts and make our final product even better, need to come long after the creative you gets to have free reign – Never before or during your Creative YOU goes at it full tilt. Spell check and grammar improvements have their place, as in, later. Right now is the time to let it just flow out of you like music of a jazz musician. There is an Artist Inside you! And it is wrong to stimmy her now.

Heart and head easily get busy in conversations that happen way too soon. And this must be stopped. Can you tell your inner critic to just “be quiet right now”? Or to “Shut up!” Can you stop that incessant chatter, so that you can get about doing what it is your heart is telling you to do? Sure, you have self-doubts or lack confidence, so what? One of the cardinal rules of doing a “Brain Storming” process is to make no judgment of any and all ideas thrown out. Just list them. A so-called lousy idea may be just the one that generates a really good, or great, idea.

Perfection isn’t all that its cracked up to be. It is worth striving towards, only not by impeding you from starting. Getting going can often be quite an undertaking itself. If we insist on perfection from the very beginning we most likely won’t get out of the starting blocks.

Think of this way: when NASA fires off a rocket to, let’s say, the moon, they do so after long and strenuous calculations, and not before immense checking and rechecking. However, if they waited until everything was perfectly lined up and everything was absolutely flawless, they would never launch. Instead, by knowing they did everything they could do, they do launch. Then they go about doing the expected, continuous, course corrections, knowing that if they did not do so they would miss the moon by untold miles. They launch knowing full well they will need to make lots of tweaks throughout the mission in order to arrive at the planned destination.

This inner critic we seem to be stuck with is part of the human condition. It is characteristic of our need to do well, and be judged as good, competent, or lovable. It also comes from the way we think. We think thoughts constantly. Thinking thoughts, thinking thoughts, thinking thoughts – 24/7; so much so, that we tend to think we Are Our Thoughts. This is a tactical error. It would be much better to consider that you and I HAVE thoughts; but we are NOT our thoughts. This is just a thought (joke).

Also, because our inner critic is constantly thinking thoughts, we often make up not very nice or decent thoughts. Usually we are telling ourselves how we have failed, or might fail, or how we are not as good as so-in-so, or how we don’t measure up, and so on. These thoughts – these made up thoughts that we generate – are guaranteed to make us feel … well, shitty. Often they will stifle our intentions to take decisive actions.

Some people will tell you that the reason they were able to succeed, in whatever arena they have done well in, is mainly due to the fact that they didn’t know any better. They didn’t know they were “not supposed to succeed.” It’s sort of like when a new born baby arrives a week earlier than the doctor’s predicted due date. Someone forgot to tell this to the baby!

I sometimes do a bit of self-trickery when I am scheduled to do a workshop or a presentation. I begin by writing a letter to myself from the future. I pick the date that is right after when the scheduled project is to happen. In my letter I write: “How I got an A+ giving the presentation.” I begin it by listing all the things I did before, and during, the presentation, as though it has already occurred. Also, more importantly, I write about “who I had to become” in order to then do all that I did in this “A+” Presentation. Are you getting this? The letter is an imaginary celebration for a job well done. When I have completed the letter from the future I am psyched. I am feeling super energized.

Once my letter is completed I use it as a spring board for what I must actually go and do. And I have clarity about who I must be to do all that I now know I must do. This becomes my outline for the project at hand.

For instance: I’m likely to write how I arrived early in order to take care of all the details of room set up, my place to put my notes or props, and AV and tech issues, so that I was then able to be present to each and every person as he or she arrived. I might have listed how I was “great with people” and how I interacted with my audience from the very beginning. I continued doing so throughout the program, and made eye contact with my audience. I might have written that I spoke clearly, and that I slowed down the presentation in order to address each of my key points made. Maybe I said that I kept my presentation SIMPLE, and how I was also humorous. I may have listed the jokes I inserted, in order to make the material easier for the participants to absorb. Can you see my outline coming from what I am sure to then do?  

This is one way I prioritize my creative and imaginative self. It also requires me leaving out the inner-critic. That inner-critic can and will have a rightful place once my initial outline is formulated. It could be that once I have drafted my outline I see that the joke I wanted to use needs to be at the start, or that I need a more fitting joke to begin my presentation. I may decide to cut out one or two key points in order to not be too long or boring. This is my version of the mid-course corrections of my rocket launch. It’s appropriate, now that the creative-self has had ample time to play freely.