“I want to write a book. I want to build a business. I want to blah blah blah.”
No you don’t. You don’t want this.
You want to write comments on the things that other people build, but you don’t want to build. It’s an ugly game out there for those who think they have the right to build things. When you step up to the plate and create, you become a target. You can hide when you criticize, but you can’t hide when you create. You can no longer pretend to be the helpless little person when you create. You have to own your power in order to create and that means you have to give up a lot of the free sympathy and pity you get for being unimpressed by what other people create.
No one feels sorry for you anymore when you present yourself as someone who actually has something to say, to show, or to sell. Once you step into the arena of self-assertion, the rules and the standards change. And you gotta be ready for that. Following your dreams is like getting a boxing match with the heavyweight champion of the world: It’s exciting and promising when you get the chance to go for it, but you will neither make an impact nor will you be standing in the end unless you know how to take some hits.
Going after the things you want in life is great, but it comes with the cost of being misunderstood, criticized, and opposed by powerful or pesky forces. So if you want to create things you believe in, then you need to be mentally prepared for the psychological and social challenges that come with creating things.
Some people will accuse me of painting an unfairly harsh picture of the world or they might assume that I’m characterizing all forms of criticism as adversarial. But this isn’t a critique of criticism nor is it a criticism of critique. It’s a challenge to those who say they want to create, but who are afraid of the reactions and responses the world may have to them.
For the purpose of the point I am making here, it doesn’t matter if the criticism is fair or not. If you step up and put yourself out there, you will have to deal with feedback that challenges you and makes you uncomfortable. You’ll never be a creator unless you’re willing to develop the fortitude necessary to grow from criticism without being broken by it.
Making things happen isn’t just about chasing your passion. It’s also about refusing to let anything or anyone steal your fire along the way.
You have to be willing to build yourself if you truly want to build something else.
T.K. Coleman is the education director for Praxis and an adjunct faculty member for the Foundation for Economic Education.