A couple of days ago I did something that has been making me uneasy. I joined a committee on some community workforce issues and shared my ideas on how local businesses can cater to the youth workforce better than their competition.
Moreover, I emailed one of the other members of the committee, the head of a large organization and has a huge amount of resources to deploy, some solutions I had come up with to address youth employment issues in my community in the hopes that he would hire me to work on them. I never heard back from him.
Since then, I've not only felt embarrassed for reaching out and spilling my ideas. I've been fretting – what if he steals them, gets someone else in his organization to work on them, and leaves me out?
I haven't felt this insecure in a while, and I'm wondering where these fears are coming from. Are they rooted in my distrust of people in power and large organizations, or in my dissatisfaction in my own complacency and the fact that I often feel guilty or like a failure for not executing on my ideas?
I've been perseverating on these questions over the last few days, but maybe I'm thinking about this all wrong. Maybe what I should really be wondering is, Why haven't I made a move on some of these ideas? Why do I think I need the backing or support of a large organization to work on them? Finally, What gifts of self-knowledge are hidden in this experience?
I don't consistently believe in myself.
I frequently haven't executed or have stopped midway on projects because I lose faith in myself. Instead of architecting solutions to problems, midway through I often begin building up a machine of negativity to dismantle my own confidence.
I'm not ashamed to admit this because I think most of us do this. The good news is, I still find myself moving forward and building what needs to be built. My method, or the evolution of my will and work is very slow and meandering, though. I'm not able to entirely ignore the noise of my mind and charge ahead. I can be indecisive, and my self-questioning often absorbs too much of my mental and creative energy.
This exhaustive cycle leads to gaps of inactivity in my creative work. I'm learning more about this and how to disrupt it with the help of coaches and other creatives who are the same way. Meanwhile, great mental and emotional work happens for me during these creative gaps, and they enrich the work I am eventually doing.
I'm lonely in my work.
This one is hard from me to confront and it's a newer realization. Why do I sometimes want to get scooped up by an organization for a job to work on my projects under someone else's umbrella? Because I'm lonely in my work.
It's hard to be on your own, and stay inspired and passionate. Everyone needs a supportive community to plug into. The key is to create this for yourself in the absence of an employer.
I have a solid online space of creative friends I press into for inspiration and encouragement, but clearly I need some kind of "personal board of directors" to keep me accountable and supported in the youth development work I am doing. I have a few people in mind and am going to reach out to them today.
The positive fruits of discomfort.
Being uncomfortable invariably teaches us something. In a weird way, my discomfort with blabbing my ideas affirms them in a way I needed. Otherwise I wouldn't be uncomfortable, possessive, and worried.
Why did I think this other person was worthy of my ideas and I wasn't?
There are some strange self-worth challenges presenting themselves here and I obviously have some personal work to do.
The key is to remember that sharing doesn't equal losing. Here I am supremely uncomfortable because I shared my ideas with someone. But only I can execute on my vision in meaningful fidelity because nobody can replace my lived experience with a problem.
This is one of the most subtle, yet insightful lessons I've learned in entrepreneurship. Sharing my ideas in this instance made me uncomfortable, but I've learned some things about myself. Moreover, sharing affirmed to me the value of my original thinking. What I do with this information is all that matters.