How Cynicism Will Kill Your Business
You may not know this based on my current career as a photographer, but I was a music major in college. As a vocal music major, I was required to sing in front of groups of my peers every few weeks and receive “feedback” from them as to what I was doing wrong, what I was doing right, how I could do better, why I shouldn’t wear that outfit again… yeah- kid you not. Talk about wrapping all my biggest fears up in to one package and then grading me on it. I really struggled with “Seminar” not only for the way my peers judged me, but for the way I started judging my peers during their performances. “How did SHE make it in to this program?” “Poor guy, he has no chance in the real world” “She thinks she’s really awesome but her voice sounds like an old granny.” I tried my best to not say these things out loud, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t think them or let them affect me. My music career ended before it began because I let cynicism take over and I lost the mental head game. I let what other people think of me and my talents completely strip the joy away. (I’m slowly regaining my joy in music, but this is a story for another day… but we continue).
As creative entrepreneurs, we live in this weird space where our craft is also our livelihood and is also something extremely personal and important to us. So when someone comes along who has been doing it less time, has more IG followers than seems humanly possible, is already finding success even though they’re a relative “newbie,” it can be really easy to put on, what I like to call, The Judgey Face.
For several years of my photography career, I wore The Judgey Face a lot. I let what other people were doing really irritate me and unfollowed a bunch of photographers at one point because it was messing with my head.
But what I later realized is I WAS ONLY HURTING MYSELF.
Ways cynicism will hurt you:
- No one likes the judgey person. This is tricky because it can feel like you’re bonding with friends over your shared disdain of certain things/people/places, but this is a false connection. When rubber hits the road, these people are not actually your friends. They’re unhappy and stuck too, and if you start to become unstuck, most of the time, they will turn their resentment towards you now!
- It will keep you from taking risks. When we are cynical, that usually means that we are incredible self conscious about our own work. The more we judge other people taking risks, the less willing we will be to take our own risks.
- It will lead you on a downward spiral of discontent. When we focus on what is wrong, we continue to find more and more things that make us unhappy. In my case with music, it ended up with me losing joy in the art form and never pursuing a music career. Don’t let this happen to you!
When you feel yourself putting on the Judgey Face and start criticizing or being overly irritated by your peers, ask yourself these questions:
- Why am I irritated?
- Is this person living a dream that I wish I was living?
- Are there unfulfilled desires I have that I’m not pursuing because of fear?
- Is there anything I can learn from said “annoying person”?
When you step outside of the judgement, sometimes it’s easier to pinpoint jealousy, fear, longing, discouragement, anger, or several other fun things we have to deal with as creative humans.
How to change course from cynicism and watch your business bloom again:
- Recognize the discontent and the tendency to judge others, and make an effort to reverse this habit.
- Find ways to encourage and support peers (even ones not as talented as you!) will help you change course emotionally and will keep you from self destructing.
- Be honest with yourself about dreams that you have pushed down because of fear of what others will think. Write out everything you could possibly want to do or ways you would want to grow your business if none of your peers could see.
- Pin point specific voices who are “negative voices” in your life. Are their friends who you always complain with? Are their groups who feed negativity? Perhaps it is time to spend less time around those voices. You can control what comes in to your head, and sometimes that means physically removing yourself from a space. Your head game is SO powerful, and it is something you need to be intentional about protecting.
- Schedule time to do something fun and creative OUTSIDE of your business field. Take a cooking class, paint, do cartwheels through the mall. Our creativity is not limited to one field, and we need to find ways to exercise it as much as we can!