On our recent Secret Adventure, a small group of truly Courageous Women discovered a number of things that I think probably surprised them. One of those, of course, was that they – too – could paint a beautiful painting.
But we learned a few other things as well.
Because this trip was labeled as a “Level One” experience, it would be easy to make the mistake of thinking it was probably “no big deal”, that in fact, “anyone” could do it, and that it might somehow be less of a challenge as a result.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In fact, sometimes something that looks deceptively easy to one person may be extremely difficult for another. For those who’ve come to know and trust the way I lead these trips, our Adventures are simple outings that are guaranteed to be just plain fun, with an extra dose of inspiration and instruction thrown in.
For others, though, the thought of agreeing to try something when you don’t even know what the ‘something’ is, can be terrifying. Heck, just being able to meet and hang out with a group of brand new friends can be intimidating in itself.
And I know for a fact that a few of those who joined us for our recent trip were pretty darn anxious about what in the world I might be getting them into. I also know that they were really, really proud of themselves by the time the trip was over. And I’ve already heard from some of them that their confidence level has increased as a result.
See, THAT’s how you move from Courage to Confidence. :)
When you’re ready to dive in, face your fears, and build up YOUR confidence, there are many keys to ensuring your success.
Here are four things we learned
while “Paint(ing) the Town” last Saturday night.
1. Find the Right Teacher
Ok, so you’re ready to tackle something new that you KNOW is going to be tough, whether it’s learning a new skill, improving an existing skill, or just facing something that’s been hard for you forever.
You’ve screwed up your courage and you’re ready to dive in. What do you do first? Go find the right teacher.
During our painting class, Paint the Town owner, Cindy McDannel offered just the right blend of push and pull, just the right mixture of encouragement and (gentle) criticism. She had a way of making you believe that you COULD do this, while showing you exactly HOW to do this.
And, if you needed a little “paint adjustment” or other help, that was okay too.
Chris Downey, the talented, funny, warm woman who taught some of us to fish back in the spring was the same way. My friend, Julie Petersen, who was finally able to help me make it to the top during my ONE successful rock climbing experience was another.
There have been many others.
Finding the right teacher, for you, is key. If you’re working with someone whose style doesn’t work for you, thank them for their help and move on. Keep searching until you make the right match. Start there.
2. Choose Your Own Path
When you look at the paintings created by our group, some of them look a lot alike. You can tell who among us were doing our darnedest (including me!) to follow Cindy’s every move.
But a few took off on their own, following their own path and coming up with their own creations.
Raeus and Pat both created beautiful trees. Karen took a completely different perspective, painting from the view of another mountain in the foreground. Nancy added whispy wings to her dancers and turned them into meadow fairies.
Each woman did what was right for her in that moment. Those who felt like experimenting, did. Those who just wanted to see if they could manage the basics, did. It was all good.
When you’re ready to try your hand at a new endeavor, give yourself permission to explore, to find your own way, to follow your own path. Don’t worry whether what you’re doing matches those around you.
They’re doing what’s right for them. YOU do what’s right for you.
Who knows what you’ll discover?
3. Embrace Imperfection.
Goodness. We all struggle with this one, don’t we? If you’re a little on the obsessive side, as I can be, the need to have everything just right before doing anything at all can lead to stagnation, paralysis, overwhelm.
So when Cindy told us to pick up our brush and make that first mark on the canvas, I was a little anxious. And then, when I’d managed to get the background where I was reasonably satisfied with it, she challenged us again by telling us to start drawing dancing women of all things!
Aack! What if I blew it? Where were the erasers? Well, sometimes you know, you just have to hold your nose and jump.
So I did. And one of my little dancers was a bit on the chubby side. Another looked like she might be expecting. But in the end, I didn’t care. I was having real fun, and I loved them anyway.
There was such joy in the sheer abandon with which we all worked. A swish here. A star there. Some of it a little off kilter. Who cared? It didn’t matter!
Set yourself free from the tyranny of perfection. Love your imperfect work. Live with abandon and see where it takes you, because good enough is good Enough.
4. Suspend (your limiting) Beliefs
And finally, the most important – and in many ways, the hardest – one of all. You must suspend your Limiting Beliefs.
Many motivational gurus will tell you to banish or let go of your limiting beliefs. You know these guys; they’re those ugly little gremlins that sit on your shoulder whispering little poisons like, “Are you kidding? YOU can’t draw!” (or sing, or dance, or speak to a group, or land a date, or get that promotion or…. well, you get my drift.)
I’m just telling you to put those voices on hold for a minute.
During each Secret Adventure for Courageous Women, someone comes along who’s about to make an incredible discovery. On every single trip, someone’s there who really needs to be on THAT trip at THAT moment. Usually, it’s someone who wouldn’t have come if she’d known what we were doing.
Her limiting beliefs would have stopped her.
But because those little gremlins don’t have time to get a running start with their whispers, she dives right in. There’s no time for “I can’t do this.” There’s only, “Oh well! Here goes!” And in that process, something special happens.
She does it, what ever the “IT” is. It may turn out to be harder than she expected. It may turn out to be easier. Doesn’t matter. She does it.
The point? Dive in. Just do it. Move quickly, before the gremlins of self doubt have time to get warmed up. Tell them they can come back later. But for now? They’ll have to wait, because you’re ready to try this and just See How It Goes.
And that, dear friends, is how confidence begins to grow. It doesn’t even matter if you’re ANY good at what you’re doing. It only matters that you gave it a shot. That you tried it out. That you gave yourself permission to add to your life experience. Every time you do that, the NEXT time gets easier.
So, how about you? What helps you build YOUR creative confidence?
Let me know in the comments below!
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Photo Credits: Wendy Pitts Reeves