Do Good Work, Forget the Fear

After the long holiday, I found it difficult to switch gears and return to work. I’ve stopped feeling badly about this! This is what vacation does! It puts things in perspective and helps us start anew. Inevitably some things are going to look and feel different, things are going to change.

Image via  Fast Co. Design

Image via Fast Co. Design

Monday morning I happened upon two blog posts, one by Margaret Wheatley (who I had the privilege of working with and learning from at The Berkana Institute) on letting go of both hope and fear, and another by Gloria Feldt also on letting go, inspired by her friend Gail’s blog post. Sometimes I wonder about the usefulness of all this blogging and thinking aloud… Then a week like this happens, and I see we are all “staying in touch” across disciplines, social circles, generations, and walks of life. We are not just writing to strangers—although it may feel this way sometimes—we are keeping the lines of communication open with each other.

Let go of hope, let go of fear. Let go of worry, let go of 50 things. These are the messages I woke up to Monday morning, just when I needed them before re-entering my work life and three projects, all very important to me. Hearing these small, but mighty reminders, I suddenly remembered my own voice. If you want to do something new, you’re going to have let go of something old and take a risk. Do good work, forget the fear. Even with this higher self knowledge, I’m in awe of how risk-taking in our creative or professional lives never really gets “easier.” It just changes. We become more willing to take risks anyway, even in the face of fear. We know we can only plan so much, which reminds me of dancer/choreographer Twyla Tharp, who says:

“A plan is like the scaffolding around a building. When you’re putting up the exterior shell, the scaffolding is vital. But once the shell is in place and you start work on the interior, the scaffolding disappears. That’s how I think of planning. It has to be sufficiently thoughtful and solid to get the work up and standing straight, but it cannot take over as you toil away on the interior guts of a piece. Transforming your ideas rarely goes according to plan.

This, to me, is the most interesting paradox of creativity: In order to be habitually creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative, but good planning alone won’t make your efforts successful; it’s only after you let go of your plans that you can breathe life into your efforts.”

I want to be in the business of breathing life into my efforts, not trying to maintain the old or attempt to repeat “best practices” for what are new and different times. Somehow, we’re halfway through 2013 now. What hasn’t gone according to plan this year? Whether or not things have gone according to plan, what ideas and materials do you find yourself working with now?


About the Author

Lex Schroeder is a writer and speaker on gender equity, systems change, and the future of work. She is a Leadership Ambassador with Take The Lead and is based in NYC. She can be reached at lexschroeder@taketheleadwomen.com. Follow her on Twitter @lexschroeder.