Recently, a coachsulting client came to me struggling with guilt feelings.
Several weeks before, she had landed on a brilliant idea for a creative business, making beautiful, meaningful objects that excited and inspired her. She loved the idea of creating a business from her creative thing, and she was thrilled with the notion that what she was creating could inspire other people, bring beauty and meaning to their lives, maybe even help them accept themselves just as they are.
The very act of creating, and sharing her creations with the world, could make an impact, and for this generous soul, nothing could be better.
Except that now she wasn’t so sure she wanted to go forward with this idea.
Hence the guilt.
As she had moved forward with her idea, she found herself less and less compelled by the creations she had planned to create, and more and more compelled by totally different creations, that had nothing to do with this grand business idea.
What to do?
Was she copping out, she wondered? Should she force herself to keep trudging forward with this idea, which had seemed so perfect a few months back, but now left her feeling uninspired?
A voice inside her said “Yes, absolutely, you must keep going! You said you were going to do this! It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost interest! You’re a quitter if you stop now! Don’t be a flake!”
Another voice said “Darling, follow your heart.”
Which voice was the Voice of Truth?
Here’s the thing: sometimes the voice that tells you to quit is the Inner Critic Gremlin, disguising itself as the Voice of Truth in an attempt to keep you safely in your comfort zone.
If your reasons for quitting are fear-based, or a feeling that you’re just not ready yet, you can bet it’s the Inner Critic Gremlin.
But if you want to quit because something else is pulling you more powerfully, don’t be too quick to label yourself a flake.
You might be a honeybee
In Refuse to Choose, Barbara Sher’s wonderful book for Passion Pluralites (she calls us Scanners), Sher compares those of us with a multitude of interests and passions to the humble honeybee.
The honeybee flies from flower to flower, collecting pollen. It doesn’t stay on one flower for its whole life — as soon as it gets what it needs from a particular flower, it flies off to the next one. It’s what honeybees do.
Nobody calls the honeybee fickle! Nobody calls the honeybee a flake! Nobody calls the honeybee a quitter!
When you’re compelled by multiple passions or project ideas, you’re like a honeybee. As long as you’re stopping because you got what you needed, you’re not being a flake, you’re being true to your wonderful Passion Pluralite nature.
The notion that you have to stick with a project forever just because you were super-excited about it at one time is a lie that your Inner Critic Gremlin loves to tell.
You might be a Leonardo
Another lie that our gremlins absolutely love is the idea that you have to act on every single idea you have.
Look at Leonardo da Vinci, the granddaddy hero of Passion Pluralites everywhere. Leonardo filled notebook after notebook with ideas. Grand ideas, crazy ideas, sketches for ideas, notes about ideas.
Very, very few of these ideas did he actually go on to create.
Do we look down on Leonardo as a flake? No, we do not! We canonize him as a genius.
You, dear creative, have your own, unique kind of genius, made up of your unique worldview, your unique ideas, your unique perspective. Enjoy it! Let your ideas bubble and flow. Capture them in your own notebooks (in Refuse to Choose, Sher prescribes keeping a Scanner Daybook, to do just that), and revel in them.
You do not have to build all of your ideas out in the real world!
If there’s a voice telling you that you do, guess what, that’s the Inner Critic Gremlin, too.
Bring that Gremlin voice to heel
After several questions from me, my coachsulting client realized that the voice telling her she must keep working on her business idea was not the Voice of Truth, but the Inner Critic Gremlin. It was the voice that wanted her to work on something “conventional” that would gain family approval — callings of the heart be damned!
Once she saw whose voice was telling her not to quit, she was ready to leave her business idea aside, to liberate her creative energy to flow where it most wants to go right now. She may choose to go back to her idea at some point, or she may not. Regardless, it had served a useful purpose already, by getting her excited and getting her creating!
Thank goodness for gremlin-training techniques! Without an ability to recognize the Inner Critic Gremlin voice, our heroine might have been stuck in the rut of her original idea forever.
Gremlins are sneaky. They come out in all kinds of ways. Sometimes it’s the more-easily recognizable voice of “You suck! You’ll never be good enough!” Sometimes it’s something more subtle, like “You can’t quit! You’ll be a flake if you quit!”
Thankfully, there are tools for learning to recognize your gremlin when it shows up. I’ll be sharing my repertoire of gremlin-training techniques at my upcoming Gremlin Training Lab on Wednesday, September 19. Click here for more info and to join me!
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!