Your Critics Don’t Count

 

To say that I love Brené Brown, is comparative to me saying I love Chocolate, I love tequila, I love thai massages and I love getting all three of those joys ALL AT ONCE. I literally get a hard on for this woman every time I read her books (yes buy ALL of them and then read each of them 5 times like I did) or watch her talks.

Last year I came out with a very daring and creative music video I was commissioned to make to help raise awareness for the state of Israel. It was everything I wanted to say and put me in front of the camera vs behind it, which is not my favorite place to be. It was daring and vulnerable and caused those creative sweats and nightly “Oh my Gawd, what am I doing??” moments. And then I posted it, and hello Secret Deodorant, there was NOT enough of that shit to make my pits feel normal after it went up on the big wide blazing internet.

Every single- and I mean EVERY single frame of every single film I make is mulled over, thought through and has a reason. I spend hours in post after I create a project, and a lot of the times, especially when I am making music videos, each and every frame has a particular story to tell. I think everything through very cautiously and very deeply. So I was sort of surprised to hear from an old friend with her “constructive criticism” exclaiming her distaste for the project.

Let’s just say the word “Gross” was tossed around, and this friend thought I needed to hear about it. The truth is, I knew that deep down she was coming from a sincerely loving place, but it made me think a thing or two about how we as artists react to destructive- I mean “constructive” commentary we open ourselves up to.

I love to be pushed by my producers and by my colleagues who know what I am capable of and who are willing to give me guidance. I take notes dubiously and am the first to admit when I am off the mark. But in this particular case, the film had already been debuted, I had yet to receive really positive comments and I hadn’t the faintest idea what impact this film had created. The only feedback I had up until that point, was this person’s bold reaction, which caused my fear to run RAMPANT. It felt like My Fear was running up and down Walmart like a 4 year old and waving his arms at me with a banner that said “YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK!” Truth was, I was scared to make this film and in that moment I heard these comments, that little ole’ ball of fear was there standing there pointing at me, laughing hard and saying, “See, I knew this would happen- never create anything EVER, lets just hang out together in your bedroom and suck on bon bons and never play in the world again you hack.”

Yep, my fear was in full swing and really loving every minute of this exchange.  Fear was really getting my goat and it was having a party at my expense. It was LOVING how awful I felt and how it was enjoying EVERY SINGLE self doubt. This whole thing felt dirty. BUT  then I heard this talk by Brene Brown and all became right with the world and little ole’ fear was put in its place.

I love this talk that Brené gives, because she really gets what an artist goes through when we create something. And the best line in this talk that not only changed my life but also kicked my fear to the curb was :

“IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE ARENA ALSO GETTING YOUR ASS KICKED, I’M NOT INTERESTED IN GETTING YOUR FEEDBACK.”

Told ya she’s the bomb!

In that moment my fear looked like the Witch’s big green puddle on the floor and all I could hear now was him saying “I’m shrinking, I’m shrinking….I’m shrinking…” Take that you Mother- F’n FEAR. My cape had been reclaimed!  It was at that moment I realized that it didn’t matter what feedback I was getting, the film was already out, there was nothing to be done but celebrate my accomplishment of having an idea, creating it, and then birthing it forward. Sure that would have been enough, BUT then the universe called and made it even better, because that is what happens when you give acceptance to your creative life, it pays you back ten fold.  A few months had gone by after I had deeply accepted my accomplishment without any reaction but my own, when the Executive Director of the non profit that commissioned me to make the film told me the film was so widely well received and it ended up raising close to $80,000 towards the  purchase of one new ambulance for Israel. SO really, you can say this one little music video potentially saved thousands of lives. Suddenly “Gross” started to feel “GOOD”.

As Brené says- if you’re in the “Cheap seats not putting yourself on the line”, than please please don’t think your words matter to me, because they never will. To all creatives out there who are getting naked and putting themselves out there, please never stop daring, never stop risking all of your notions, never listen to your critics, stay in the arena, and keep on CREATING! (I am saying this to myself so I don’t pass out everyday from all the crap I’ve exposed myself with on the big bad blazing web.)

I’ve broken down her talk to a few quotes that I think you should memorize or at least write in lipstick on your bathroom mirror:

“Not caring what people think is its own kind of hustle”

“Reserve seats for the critics you lock out of your arena… take the critics to lunch, and to simply say when I’m trying to innovate, say I see you, I hear you, but I gotta show up and do this anyway…. I’m not interested in your feedback.”

“If you’re going to spend your life showing up…. you need a clarity of values….if courage is your value you have to do this…..you gotta have one person who’s willing to pick you up and dust you off when you fail….if you’re not failing than you’re not really showing up.”

“How important can you be….I’m looking for a stranger in the mall, that’s who I’m trying to win over.”

“The critics are there whether you show up or not.”

“The people who have the most courage and who are willing to show up are willing to look at their critics and say I hear you, but I’m not buying it.”

“One of these seat needs to be reserved for you. When we look up and we are putting an idea, art, design etc, who is the biggest critic? Yourself! Definitely ME- so give herself a seat please.”

“Design is a function of connection.”

Now Get Real Or Go Home!