Your standards are too high, you don’t offend enough and you need to make friends with rejection

If you want to grow, you must move toward opportunities, not just away from pain points.

Move towards, not just away

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I bought Todd Henry’s Louder than words: Harness the power of your authentic voice.  Maybe I was looking for advice on how to find my voice? Any way, the introduction and table of contents somehow convinced me that this was the book that I must read next.

Although I found the book full of valid ideas it wasn’t a page-turner. It was a bit academic and almost as if Henry wrote about stuff that he knew are buzz words, but he hasn’t really chewed and swallowed it yet. But maybe I’m just not his typical intended audience, or as he calls it, IA. I’m not his IA, okay? But in his own words, “not everything you make will be for everybody, nor should it be.”

Even though I’m not moved to tell you that you absolutely must read this book, there are some things that I found interesting:

  • “Voice” and “vocation” comes from the same Latin root meaning to call. “It’s the sort of work that you feel compelled to do even when no one is paying attention.”
  • Every creative project has a U shape. It starts out all hunky dory but then goes through a dark valley before ending up on top again. A lot of work are given up on in the bottom bend of the U.
  • “If you want to do unique, contributive work, and develop your voice, you must have the courage to offend.”
  • Most of us fear rejection. Henry refers to a story about Jia Jiang that makes one look differently at rejection. Here’s a link to Jiang’s TED talk.
  • Another reason why we are sometimes tempted to give up too soon is because we are incapable of meeting our own high standards:

“… all of us that do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.  But there is this gap.  For the first couple of years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.” – Ira Glass

We must be willing to endure a period of incompetence, which may last far longer than we would like it to before there’s progress in closing this gap.