Rejecting your life’s invisible scripts
We are often influenced, if not even controlled, by the things we think we need to do and the person we think we need to be in our lives and careers. Chasing and repeating these broken narratives is exhausting, and any deviation from them is met with judgment, imposter syndrome, guilt, self-doubt, frustration, and more in all of us. In this episode, we will look at where these invisible scripts come from, why they continue to influence us, and what we can do to fight them.
I’ve thought a lot about this since creating 100 episodes felt like a big milestone. I have always tried to be as honest as I can in this show and see no reason to stop now.
This show has been written and rewritten at least 4 times or more because of my normal process, then the COVID pandemic, and then following the death of George Floyd. It is also complicated by the fact that this milestone for me is coupled with the fact that I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more like a fraud so trying to create like this has been a struggle. Being a white, male, who started at 12 years old because his parents were in this business makes me feel like the last person who should be giving advice to anyone since I am sure everyone has had it harder than me. So who am I to give advice at a time like this?
For me, there is no place to start other than by sincerely saying thank you. Thank you because this show has grown and been supported completely by you.
A few stats for these first 99 episodes
• 700k+ downloads
• 160+ countries
• 5,800+ cities
• 0 dollars spent
This has become what it did because of your support. I am always blown away by how many people listen to the show and have written me such amazing and humbling emails letting me know the effect the show or an episode had on you. All of that has been beyond anything I could have imagined when I started this project.
Moving forward and back
I am not sharing this looking for sympathy but simply continue to expose that everyone, even an “expert” at a milestone in this project struggles to live up to what they think they should be and are often left feeling like they came up short. But it is that wanting and that feeling of coming up short I want to make the focus on this episode.
Doing this show has been amazing and I am so grateful for it because it has pushed me, made me grow, see things differently, meet so many new people and so much more. But looking back over that journey and that growth I am still in this position of feeling like a failure and that I haven’t done enough. I want to talk about that – chasing who we think we need to be and why we constantly feel like we come up short.
Chasing the invisible
It is no secret that we all struggle with figuring ourselves out, our creative process, and making peace with ourselves. You only have to look at the most popular episode in the history of this show which was episode 86 that talked about making peace with yourself to improve your creativity. It felt like there was more to explore on that subject as I didn’t really think I really found the heart of the problem.
As I thought more about it I kept coming back to one thought that felt like the real heart of the problem – we are all chasing invisible scripts that we can never measure up to and that chase is derailing too many of us. When I say scripts I mean these invisible series of life events and milestone we all feel like we need to follow to be successful and happy.
Let me give you a few examples.
In our personal lives the script we are supposed to follow is
• Happy family
• Graduate high school
• Go to college
• Get married
• Have 2.5 kids
• Buy a house and car
• Live happily ever after
In our career the script we are supposed to follow is
• Find your life long pursuit in college if not before
• Study that in college
• Get an internship
• Get a junior position with 3-5 years experience
• Work your way up the ladder
• Take a leadership position
• Grow your team and your ego
• Work happily ever after
Success in hindsight
Any deviation from these scripts is met with judgment, imposter syndrome, guilt, self-doubt, frustration and so much more in all of us. I fall victim to these the same as anyone else. Whatever I do – it is never enough. It never makes me as happy as I think it should turn into a parade of feeling about how I came up short. The chase and repeating these broken narratives are exhausting, demoralizing and it is one we can never win because those scripts are BULLSHIT. When you start to pull these scripts apart and really look at them you start to see how they make no sense at all – because no one’s life ever follows any of them.
People think I’ve had a good career but let’s look at that…
• Worked in Dad’s advertising agency
• Went to college for computer graphics which no one ever heard of
• Went into computer animation
• Went back to advertising
• Went in-house at a hotel company
• Worked at a bank
• Then went to a SAS company
• All while WRITING a blog, RECORDING a podcast, BECOMING public speaking and PRODUCING a YouTube channel
• None of those were a part of my core skillset
If someone asked you for career advice for what they should do with their career NO ONE would tell you this would be a recipe for any success. NO ONE else would look back at their career and say the same thing. Concepts like success or genius only exist in hindsight.
Death to success porn
This is then complicated by the fact that In the moment when you are doing all these things it pretty much never feels like something that is going to be successful. So much of my career felt like a risk, a mistake or a detour and only when I looked back or after it launched it was a success.
The full truth about my career isn’t just the path I took but that:
• I’ve lived in apartment for a month with no power because I couldn’t pay the bills,
• when I did get a job my roommate screwed me over and left me holding the bill on our apartment eviction,
• then when I could pay those bills regularly I would often only do it when things got shut off,
• and I took jobs no one understood,
• and I did things few people supported,
• and so much more
But we never talk about any of that. We fall for this success porn and the invisible script. Success porn is when we often move away from, leaving out or lie about those feelings, experiences, stresses, and risks that were a part of the real journey. But by doing that and giving in to our feelings of coming up short against those invisible scripts we stop ourselves from finding the confidence, experience, growth, and success lie on the other side of those struggles.
Screw all the scripts
The major themes of this podcast have been creativity, leadership, career development and self acceptance. Let’s break down those themes and look at how we kill the scripts we are all chasing for each of them.
SCRIPT: TRYING TO UNDERSTAND OUR CREATIVE PROCESS
• We start by copying the work and processes of people we admire
• We start to find our own voice
• We start to worry that if we stand out we won’t be accepted or successful
• We get comfortable with that doubt so it feels normal
• The frustration grows until we question what we are doing wrong
• Self-awareness – pay attention to what works and what doesn’t
• Understand your process – how do you have your best ideas?
• Work ethic over talent – Always work to better yourself instead of relying on talent or waiting for an opportunity to come along.
SCRIPT: TRYING TO BE WHO WE THINKING EVERYONE WANTS US TO BE
• Our career grows and that doubt becomes louder
• We cope with that doubt by trying to fit in and be like the average person at work
• We chase this image of the person we think we need to be.
• Being this other person becomes exhausting and we continue to question what we are doing wrong
• Understand what sets you apart and build your brand
• Know that your path is going to be different than everyone else
Be authentic to who you are and make sure that is what drives your career
SCRIPT: TRYING TO MAKE PEACE WITH AND UNDERSTAND OURSELVES
• The frustration that was generated by our struggle with creativity and the doubt that has been created throughout our career are compounded by our self acceptance
• We chase trying to fit in and make sense of ourselves which never looks or feels like anyone else.
• We are comparing our insides to everyone else’s outsides and it is a comparison that we will never win or feel good about.
• Know that your childhood, education, career, insecurities, and journey through the world are unique to you.
• But know that those things are your strength because they give you a unique perspective, a unique creative process, a unique voice, and all that can be captured in your unique brand.
• But you have to make peace with it and accept it for it to turn into that strength which is easier said than done.
As we all struggle for self-acceptance, fight our imposter syndrome, understand our creative process, and so much more I think that I want to end this first 100 episodes with a simple thought that I think captures what we are struggle with every day.
Being yourself is a courageous and defiant act.
I wish that wasn’t the case and that we celebrated the process, the struggle, and that everyone is one a unique path more. As a people, we seem to gravitate to a pack mentality where we celebrate the success of the Crazy Ones but we do very little to help them find that success unless they have the inner strength to do it on their own.
But even as you all listen to these shows on your own – know that you are not alone. As I do my office hours, conversations, coaching, and more I have seen that we are all the same in what we struggle with. It is up to us to be willing to be more vulnerable, to step out in to the bigger world to see how much support we have and to change these scripts. We are the Crazy Ones and we are a community, a movement and this change can come from any or all of us.
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