There Are No Rules

I'm trying something new again. I decided to record this week's newsletter as a short episode of my podcast, The Gently Mad.


I’ll go ahead and tell you the secret: no one knows what they’re doing. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but you’ll have to listen to the episode for the extra goodies.

If you feel like subscribing to the podcast, you can do that here. And if you’re feeling extra nice, a review and rating of the show would be most appreciated.

Do The Work You Love

Do you yearn to do work you love, but struggle to take the next step or even know what the next step is? I want to help you. Here's why.

So many times, the things I really want to do are the things I’m most scared to do.

Like most of you, I’m curious and I love learning. I have tons of interests and could probably be happy pursuing many different things. But if I’m honest, it doesn’t take much soul-searching to find the things about which I’m truly the most passionate.

But for some reason, I can’t even let my mind GO there. Because those things? Those are the things that are truly impossible. Those are the things at which I will absolutely, undoubtedly fail.

Or so my mind tells me.

For me, those things are creating content (podcasting, writing, making videos, etc.) and helping people. Specifically, helping people through my content creation.

But I’m afraid. And if you’re afraid too, then I want you to know you’re not alone. I know what it’s like to doubt myself on a level so deep it’s almost impossible to reach. I know what it’s like to spend YEARS standing on the dock and never diving in because I’m afraid I will fail, or worse, end up looking foolish. I know so deeply what it’s like to yearn to do work I love, but just can’t bring myself to do it, because I don’t think I have anything unique to offer. I’m an echo. Not a voice.

A very famous (and smart) guy was recently quoted as saying, “Be a voice. Not an echo.” And I understand what he meant, but it was so discouraging to hear, because my deepest fear is that I’m nothing more than an echo.

Whether or not that’s true is for another newsletter, but even if it is, I want you to remember this: History has proven that sometimes the echoes rang louder and truer than the original.

So DO the things that scare you. Face your fears. In all likelihood, the things you’re afraid you are, you probably aren’t. But even if you are, embrace them and do them anyway. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’ve missed the boat on doing the work you love. Or that too many people are already doing it, or that the “market is too saturated”, whatever the fuck that means.

For me, that means I’m going full speed ahead building my business of helping people overcome their fears and do the work they love. Are other people doing that? Yes. Am I just an echo? Maybe. But I’m going to be an echo that rings so loud and so true that no one will care.

And you can too.

You Matter

If you've been following along for any length of time, you know I write a lot about my fear of failure, insecurity and chronic self-doubt.

I write about this stuff because I’m constantly plagued by it and it’s always in my head. Every time I open Photoshop or Sublime Text, or iA Writer, or sit down at the drum kit, I fight with a voice that says “Your work is terrible. You have no skill. You don’t matter.”

A therapist would probably tell me this has something to do with my childhood and upbringing, and maybe it does, but I’ve never been able to shake it. Even in the height of “success”, I’m still filled with doubt.

If you feel that way, I want you to know that you do matter. I know how helpful it can be to hear that from someone else, even if deep down you know it’s true. You matter.

You may not realize it, but you impact the lives of people all around you. That’s an incredible responsibility.

A few month ago I was at a tiny web conference in Greenville. A guy walked up to me and said he loved my podcast (The Gently Mad) and that it was the reason he was there that day.

He told me how he had always dreamed of taking his life by the reigns and getting into the web industry so he could quit his job and do something he loved.

He told me that my podcast had given him the inspiration needed to move his family across the country and go through a web design and development course taught by The Iron Yard. He was graduating that day and just wanted to let me know how my show had encouraged him and given him the push he needed to start this new life.

I was completely floored. I had just finished whining to a friend for an hour about how nothing I did in life seemed to matter very much. How I had nothing to offer and nothing to say that hadn’t already been said.

And then that guy showed up. I knew nothing about him and yet he had been listing to my show and it had impacted him.

There are people like that in your life right now. People you don’t know, whose lives are being affected by what you do.

Zig Ziglar is famous for saying:

You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.

This should give you pause (and fill you with hope). Regardless of the size of your audience, you have an opportunity. Don’t miss that opportunity by believing the voice in your head that tells you you don’t matter.

The next time you sit down to write or design or create something, remember that there are people out there who are listening. You may never hear from them, but they’re there and they need you.

And that matters. A lot.