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What Lady Gaga and George Clooney Have in Common – With Us

Creative Fear

Last week, I talked about the fallacy of assuming that just because someone is accomplished, experienced and confident about their own creativity they don’t feel fear when called forth to give life to or showcase themselves and their creations. Possibly they feel this fear when they are doing something new. And, possibly, they feel it every single time.

Even when we know this intellectually, it can be easy to think that the fear these creative superstars encounter must not be as big or as real as our own.

This week, I listened to two podcasts featuring interviews with well-known creators. Each included a section about fear.

There was something so intimate about both interviews that I went looking for the transcript of a similar moment from a documentary I love.

Alone or together, these conversations serve as such clear reminders that we all get scared; that fear doesn’t care if we’re Lady Gaga or George Clooney; and that the trick is not to get frozen.

I’m going to share quotes from these podcasts and the film without the name of the speaker first – because I think there’s something interesting about reading them that way – and, then, I’ve listed the credits at the end:

“I was really, really scared and not sure of myself at all.”1

 [paraphrased] “It took me nine months of preparation to give a speech for the first time to 12,000 people. After I went onto Twitter and searched the talk. There were about 100 tweets and almost everyone said ‘nice work.” And one of them was really negative. The next seven hours were just black. The underlying shame we all deal with came to the fore. What right did I have to stand up? How dare I stand in front of all these people and pretend I know how to inspire.”2

“I don’t know what you do when you start [creating], but I clean my desk. I make a lot of stupid appointments that I make sound important. Avoidance. Delay. Denial. I’m always scared that I’m not going to know what to do. It’s a terrifying moment.”3

1-Ben Affleck on directing for the first time from his interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, January 24, 2013
2-Seth Godin paraphrased from his interview on NPR’s On Being, January 16, 2013
3-Architect Frank Gehry from his interview with Sydney Pollack for the film Sketches of Frank Gehry, 2006

To the fears that haven’t stopped us,

Susan B.