The art of Freedom Dancing and facing fear
Inspiration from Seth Godin and Natalie Sisson.
A new friend Natalie Sisson was over the moon. She had interviewed her virtual mentor, Seth Godin, best-selling author and all-around wise man and was posting it today. (Scroll down to hear the interview or click here.) She admitted feeling nervous receiving this gift of exchange with one of the most inspiring people in her life, one of the few people she truly admires.
This week, I've felt a little intimidated too - by the people who understand social media, know how to make a book fly to Number One and who are poised and self-confident. Boy, they've been everywhere around me this week! And yep, let's be honest, I've felt a little like I've been punching above my weight hanging out with Natalie in Bali. But listening to her interview with Seth this morning, joy of joys, I 'got' the lesson. Read on! Clare meets humble, and loves it!
Now, Natalie most certainly is self-assured, but this has been earned. She has multiple income streams, works hard, and has an impressive corporate journey behind her. Natalie is the author of best-seller The Suitcase Entrepreneur (Create freedom in business and adventure in life) and I 'met' her first on Social Media. I am sharing this story, and the words of Seth and Natalie, because they perfectly explain the journey a creative takes, and how that relates not just to artists, but to every person on the planet.
There are two concepts Seth speaks about, and both are inextricably related - freedom, and the fear. And the journey to any kind of freedom almost always begins with fear.
During the interview (which I urge you to listen to in full), Seth talks about failing, feeling stupid, starting something you have no clue about, stumbling around in the dark, and learning. He describes this as tension. And this is possibly the main reason why people don't embark on their own freedom journey.
This is exactly the work that creative people go through to get unblocked, to step into their space, and to be who they were put here to be; to live their life purpose. And Seth is one incredibly creative human being. I turned up the volume and sat up and listened more intently. Here was a teacher who understood freedom, but from an holistic viewpoint, not just a physical one.
Natalie's approach to freedom is to call those wanting liberation freedom fighters - the right to be free.
Seth challenged her on this (in a nice way). He calls people who are free (and, I would assume, those on that journey), freedom dancers. I paused the recording. This was interesting. Two people, pursuing similar goals, with different terms. Were they opposed, or were they just at different stages of their journey? As it turns out, neither are 'wrong'. I went back to the beginning of her interview, and to the intro she posted on Facebook.
I had a couple of questions.
Why was she nervous of the interview? What was creating this tension for Natalie, who was also overjoyed in chatting with her mentor?
I listened to the interview again. What was I missing? And why was this difference in terminology speaking so loudly to me as a creative?
Natalie explained it from her perspective; from, let's face it, most of our perspective - that many people find it a fight to shift from being constrained, to being free. At times, it can feel like a battle. I know! I've fought the fight for my creative freedom! There are a stack of things that hold us back - judgement, icky people we let penetrate our thoughts, jealousy, distractions. It's a veritable maze to get out of, that requires a heap of self-love and awareness. We need to be able to give our emotions names, and face them in the room.
Seth is a way-ahead on that journey. (And that's not a bad thing! Nor a comparative thing!) He has shifted from the fight, to the actual place of being free, not just ideologically free, which can be summarised as being financial and physical. Seth is totally, beautifully and inspirationally, free. His soul is free. We have much to learn from him. And lucky for us, he is an eager teacher.
Seth has freedom of speech. Freedom to create. Freedom to think. Freedom to write what he believes you want to read and what he wants to write, not what a publisher wants to sell. When he talks, he doesn't speak of his financial freedom per se. He hooks it into his personal freedom. Like this: he began his writing journey writing what he thought people would want to read. 800 publishers knocked him back. He learned to write what they wanted to sell. Bingo. Off and running.
And now, he has returned to writing what he believes will help people, what they need, what he was put on this planet to teach. His freedom is much deeper than business or travel freedom. It is the very freedom of his essence, of who he is.
My question for Seth would be: would he (now that he's done the work) recommend we write from the place of our intention, or what publishers want us to write? I think the growing number of bestsellers on Amazon, mine included, is telling publishers that unless they change their model, they might just fall behind. Perhaps the answer is in the fact that so many people are feeling free to write what they need to express themselves.
Seth's new book is a visual book. He learned to create it himself (just like I did - liberating! and fun!), rather than pay someone thousands of dollars to do it. I understood this instantly. My book Bali Soul Journals was critiqued by one of Australia's largest publishers. The publisher loved it, but he wanted it changed. It was too "magazine-like" he said, through his sub-agent who gave me the feedback.
"Oh!" I internally responded, taking on-board the well-meaning criticism, all the while thinking that I was going to change very little! And here is the important bit folks...
When I created that book, I did so intuitively. I let God, the Universal Spirit, whatever you want to call it, create it through me. I consciously asked to be the worker, and turned up faithfully to have it created through me by a higher power. And it seems, at least from one point of view, my magazine-style (albeit hard-back) was on trend!
What you don't know, is that I am planning on re-releasing it in this very format. And now, here is Seth, on the other side of the planet, taking a similar path. This is very exciting. Not because of the synchronicity in ideas, but that this is indicative of a world that is becoming free, and at the same time, connecting.
Seth has found himself amidst extraordinary freedom, and this is the freedom I write about as a creative. Julia Cameron (author of The Artist's Way) writes about this as well, but in more detail. She describes the actual journey we have been on, before we get the 'ah ha' moment. As you work through her 12-week program, she describes the internal hell we live in and that we slowly climb out of. In so doing, she leads us to a freedom like never before. One that Seth is experiencing.
Back to fear, and how it helps and diminishes our freedom.
When I began writing Things you need to know about Bali, I was paralysed by fear! I'd just move to Bali and heck, thought this book was a good thing! I'd learned a lot as a 50-time tourist to Bali - I wanted to save people the pain, and the time, in learning stuff I'd stumbled on, so they could get on with learning the stuff they were here to learn.
The moment I let that fear take hold of me, I was hit in the face by critics like a steam train punching into the side of a tunnel. It shook me to the core. I think in retrospect, my fear was like a pole sticking out of my head with a flag on it that said, "Hey everybody, I'm shit-scared right now, so please, come take a potshot at me while I'm still standing". I attracted the very attitudes that were rooting me to the ground.
I still hit publish, but halted my journey. I stopped dead like the train, and did little to promote it. I stuck my head back in the trenches and hid.
This, my friends, is what fear can do - but fear can work in your favour as well. Fear that disables you is what happens when your soul is not free. What transpired from this low point, was an awakening. I'd already done Julia Cameron's 'work', but needed to revisit it, and fast. I attended a week with Jack Canfield, my ego announcing to all there that Things you need to Know would be #1. Oh dear. See, Jack is like Seth, just a little (lot) further on the journey than I am. He gently critiqued it. I had an 'ah ha' moment, and with his beautiful guidance, Bali Soul Journals was born.
The Bootongs of Bali followed. And Looking for Borneo was created. I stepped into my creative space, and owned it. I experienced creative freedom. And wow! That was seriously incredible stuff! I gave myself permission to blog, to fail, to have typos, to suck and see. And the Universe responded ten-fold. People began appearing - teachers, guides, co-creatives. Suddenly (well, suddenly in the scheme of the journey of the planet), I was happy. I was free. I was feeling what Seth calls tension, not debilitating fear.
And then, the struggle returned. Like a dark cloak, it draped itself around me and made me doubt my creative fibre.
It came in the name of Social Media Marketing.
Arrghh! The shackles went back on and I dove down the rabbit hole! I began to doubt writing from my soul, and considered whether I should be writing what publishers wanted me to write. I became bogged in the mire of something I knew little about, and whoa, that was a tense place to be!
Then Natalie, poised and confident, 'stepped' into my life, a social media, freedom Godess! She offered her book for free in a Facebook Group. I read it. I was inspired. I wrote to her to thank her, and to offer to catch up when she arrived in Bali. Blow me down, she responded. I read her book to the last page.
And I crumbled. My useless bloody five books that I'd done in 18 months, my lack of knowledge of this bloody new-age marketing knowledge. Why hadn't I made six figures yet? And suddenly, I felt very, very stupid.
And nervous. And inept. Whoa Nelly...feelings hit me and while my creative freedom was thankfully by now a staunch teenager and not prepared to be kicked out of the room, my professional freedom and sense of self floundered. Not because of Natalie. But because of what she and so many people who are free on the physical realm represent. I'd freed my soul, but was still feeling blocked on the every day path of humans, measured by wealth, travel, business success and metrics. I wasn't free from the world of comparison. Ick.
So, I spent a week reading. I likely spoke a lot of white noise to Natalie about what I was learning! (Sorry Natalie! I learn and like to share, even to the enlightened!) And then, this morning, she posted her interview with Seth. Her wonderful, slightly nervous and very human interview with Seth. And I had an 'ah ha' moment.
My creative soul was not free, because I was still measuring it against other parameters and people. Freedom comes when we are experiencing freedom as it means to us. Seth made a point of saying that freedom means different things to different people. And I am saying that only you can know what that is. Like a dancer, freedom comes from your very essence. It is driven by your purpose. It is lived by your passion. And it is released by the joy you give and receive in the process. It is not measured. It is not compared. Freedom is free. A parody. The very thing that creates freedom, is freedom, and it can be nothing else.
Today, I am prepared to be stupid. I am embarking on this social media journey (while being careful not to fall into its rabbit hole again). I am determined to learn it quickly, from those who already know it. And then, I will be faced with the new challenge of being stupid for a while, until I know what I need to know. And again. And again. As Seth does, I will invite the tension in on a daily basis.
So, to all you freedom dancers out there who might feel like you are fighting for freedom right now - keep at it. Turn up to the page. Embrace your creativity, because I do believe that once you find that freedom, the other lessons will be easier on your soul. The tension is good!
Be humble on your freedom journey. Learn to admire many, because the teachers out there are plentiful, and awesome. Admiration comes from a place of strength. The more we admire, the more we are in our space, living our life of purpose. I noted that Seth spoke of the many he admired, and whom he visited often. That's a great idea, and also one in Michael Port's book Book Yourself Solid, which I will review this month. Michael has you draw a list of people you don't know now, whom you admire, and whom you would like to connect with. He provides space for a lot of people!
And, try not to compare your journey to others. This is the opposite of admiring. It is much more flattering to admire than be intimidated by. But ah, you will be! We all are at some stage! Listen to that nervousness, push into it a little, and I can guarantee that the lesson will reveal itself.
If there comes a point when you finally don't compare yourself at all, when you see all people as amazing, including you, you will realise that you are free. When we don't admire people, we risk being in judgement. And that's also a place of fear, because we don't want to be like them. But that's another topic for another day.
I'm still on the journey. Thank you to Natalie for the gift of this interview this morning. Several 'ah ha' moments!
Here's to when we are all totally and beautifully free. I can't wait to see what gets delivered up to you when you are in that space!
Postscript note: ... and, how do I feel now? Yeah, I still feel a bit dumb about this social media stuff. But that's okay. In a week I've learned more than I did in six months. I've stopped comparing, because now it's in perspective. I feel stupid because I am feeling tension. And that's a good thing, because I am growing and learning.
And, there are now two more people on my very, very long list of people I admire. A list that will grow and grow and grow ... because the more I admire in others, the more I step out of my ego, and connect with the unique gifts that I have. I'm here to tell you, you've got your own gifts too. Here's to that little gem!
Listen to Natalie Sisson's inspirational interview with Seth Godin here. Check out Seth here. And check out his books (and his short video) here, which deal with leaping into places that feel uncomfortable.
About Seth Godin: Seth is the author of 17 bestselling books that have been translated into 35 languages. He's a popular blogger and the founder of several companies. Mostly, he's a teacher. And, he is totally free.
About Natalie Sisson: Natalie is passionate about building amazing businesses online that you can take anywhere: online marketing, social media and new tools and technologies. She loves to travel, so packaged it all up in a book I seriously recommend, that helps other folk, like me to learn what she has learned. But, happy days, we just get to learn it faster!
Credit (nope, we try not to steal stuff - only when it already says what we were going to say)
Image at top from the interview page on Natalie's Suitcase Entrepreneur website. Great quote! Listen to the interview...there are plenty more like that!
Clare McAlaney is a Creative Architect. She designs, writes, draws, photographs, publishes, and has skills across branding and marketing. She ran a successful half million dollar company from her home studio in Melbourne, before stepping into her fully creative space. Closing down her company, she took a risk and opened Creatavision Publishing. In 18 months, she has not only published five books, but designed all of them, written four of them, and photographed and done art for two.
She accredits this burst of energy and productivity to her passion for being in the space she was born to be. Natalie actually suggested her new title, Creative Architect. It sums up what Clare's passion is - bringing vision to life, or as her company suggests, creating (the) vision.
Clare believes we are all creative, and that this is the one thing that is necessary for the awakening and growth of the planet, and is also the one thing that connects people. She works with others to help bring out their own creativity, which she has found brings happiness to all areas of life. She now knows that this is the passport to true freedom, not just on the physical realm, but on the spiritual one as well.
Clare is still on that journey. Read more about that here, and check out her workshops that will help you face the fear, and step into who you were born to be.