Loving your fear.
The truth behind “true self.”
The revelation of the suckage factor.
Michael Bungay Stanier, author of “Do More Great Work,” and creator of Box of Crayons covers a lot of ground in a short time.
MBS: Do you think that everyone runs into walls? You talk about the think tank and then the cool media company and basically finding yourself not at a pathway but at a dead end. Is that just part of the journey? Does everyone go through that or is there another way?
DL: This is such interesting territory because I think that the thought, “You have to suffer to grow,” is a bit ridiculous actually. I think you can grow without trauma. I think the more self-aware you become and the more aware you become of the small things in your everyday existence that aren’t working for you, the less drama and trauma and severity you are going to bring into your life in terms of life lessons. It just requires nudges to stay awake and on track instead of 2x4s.
It’s the subtleties of does this work for me? Do I like how this feels? Is this what I want to bring want this in my home? Is this what I want to buy today? Is this what I want to eat? Did I like how I said that?
It’s very subtle but those are the micro-experiences of contrast where you are constantly saying “this worked” and “this didn’t.” Creativity is all about “this worked” and “this didn’t.” You are constantly choosing. And really, if I am on a pulpit for anything, it is this: make more choices. Choose everything every day. Choose how you are going to wake up. What you will say “no” to. Choose your thoughts. Choose your food. Choose your friends.
MBS: Is there a process for avoiding fear, this “I have to suffer to progress,” or is there something valuable about stepping into fear + managing it in a different way?
DL: I think trying to avoid fear is intensely detrimental. Trying to avoid fear is like trying to avoid curiosity. You cannot avoid being curious, you are or you aren’t. I think you shouldn’t avoid, you should actually look for it. Every new situation you should think, what am I scared of? You are scared of something. Fear is a huge teacher.
I love my fears but I am really clear that I lead my fears. They do not manage me. They have a very particular seat on the bus. I listen to them, I thank them + then they stay in their place. They do not run the show.
Look for some kind of clue in your fear and once you can figure it out, you can figure out to integrate it. But you can’t avoid it.
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