Be the CEO of Your Own Life

By Ann Ipock

I was talking to another writer recently when we began discussing what gets our creative juices flowing. The choices would seem obvious: a beautiful nature scene – say, a rainbow after a summer shower, mellow music that you play over and over until your mind replays it over and over without the CD (ack!), mastering a complicated recipe that you’ve screwed up before, or a holiday with family that traveled a long way for the special occasion. Although these things are wonderful in and of themselves, my friend and I both decided it was almost easier to decide what doesn’t motivate us – or, more to the point, what causes the creative juices to stop flowing.

In my case, fear holds me back from some powerful things that I know I am capable of doing. Whether it’s the fear of failure or the fear of success, I don’t know. But, we’ll save that subject for another day. Written by Susan Jeffers, a certain book title sums it up, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. How true. Can you imagine who was the first person to ever eat an oyster? I’m not sure if they were just the non-fearful sort or if they’d been smoking some rabbit tobacco (an old, really old, country-Southern practice). I do know I wouldn’t have been the first to try those slimy morsels, but hey, I’m glad they did ‘cause I love ‘em.

Dread and procrastination go hand in hand, and they’re huge stumbling blocks for me. The funny thing is I KNOW the negative emotions associated with these bugaboos are much worse than just jumping in and getting started. Maybe that’s why my refrigerator regularly grows many specimens of mold – blue, green, sometimes even ivory-colored. At least I’m well-balanced in my penicillin specimens. Writing the first page for my columns and free-lance assignments is something I put off until the last possible minute. I truly don’t know why, but maybe I secretly enjoy the adrenaline rush associated with the practice, because that, in turn, appears to make my writing better – notice I say appears, because I don’t really believe that.

Lack of confidence holds me back along with lots of other folks I know. I’ve been meaning to put the finishing touches on my newly decorated home office, which features pink and green – not Lacoste or Lilly-like, but more of a mustard green and raspberry. I sewed the curtains and pillows, bought a lovely daybed duvet and mixed in some new and used furniture. The thing is, I just know if I dress up the knobs to the white plantation shutter-type dresser, I’ll have the pièce de résistance! So why don’t I just get on with it? Hmmmmmm?

I read a quote recently that just absolutely personified this entire “waiting for the muse” dilemma. “Confidence is more a side effect of tolerating fear than a permanent state you can cultivate.” Wow! I read it again. And again. I plan to frame it and put it on my desk. Seriously. Dr. Daneen Skube – a syndicated columnist, executive coach and innovative therapist – gets credit for this lovely little jewel. She is the author of Interpersonal Edge, and though her book, both practical and humorous, deals more with communication than procrastination, her theme is “be the CEO of your own life – with a greater sense of empowerment and confidence.”

So whether you are a practicing artist or not (and I believe we are all artists), you might want to ask yourself what stops your creativity, and then you’ll find the answer to what starts your creativity.

Personally, being organized, getting up early in the morning (I know! I know! Those of you who know me are questioning if I’ve had a brain transplant), and filling the well with trips to museums, walks in the park or an old downtown neighborhood with those gorgeous huge Southern oaks – (downtown Charleston is divine for this), or listening to concerts at the symphony bring out the muse for me every time. Now all I have to do is just have to sit still long enough to plan for these things to happen, ’cause the muse can’t get through to a perpetually moving target. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you my final obstacle in blocking the muse – being antsy, and I’m working on that one too.

About this writer

  • Ann Ipock Ann Ipock, the first Sasee hat recipient, is the author of the “Life is Short” humor trilogy. She currently writes for four publications and lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her husband, Russell.

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