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How to Support Friends’ Projects

How to Support Friends’ Projects

We’ve all been on one side or the other of this equation: we’ve done something new, something creative, and we’re really proud of it. We ask our friends to get involved, and tell us what they think, and the friend says, “Wow! That’s really great. I like it. I like it.”

You, as the creative type, are crushed. Nothing sounds more like “This is horrible, and I’m not really getting it, nor do I think I have even one good thing to say about it” the way “I like it. I like it” does.

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On the other side, maybe you’re the appreciator, and you’re thinking, “I know absolutely nothing about Klesmer music, so how do I know if it’s good or bad?” So what do you tell your friend? Here are some thoughts:

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  • Feedback helps improve things– It’s pretty rare that someone’s project will be 100% perfect. Giving someone a compliment or two, followed by some food for thought on improving the effort is a great way to help the creator understand another person’s perspective, and perhaps better develop their effort for next time.
  • This is not the “feedback sandwich”– Which is: “I like you, this sucks, but I like you.” Instead, be sure you give all your good notes, and if you offer criticism, make sure you say it in a way that’s actionable. “I liked the pieces. I could’ve used a little more balance between the different audio segments. I had to really crank it for the fourth one, and then turn it down fast for the last.”
  • Give actionable advice– Saying “this could really use some improvement,” is about as good as saying, “I like whales, because I do.” Instead, tell the creator of the project, “Your software really is slick. I’m a keyboard gal, myself. Do you have keyboard shortcuts? Is that coming in a future release?”
  • Sometimes, it’s a matter of tastes– Be on the lookout for when something is strictly a matter of taste. You might not like leopard print upholstry, but if your old college buddy says he feels like the old Dokken days, don’t stomp on him. Just say, “Whoa. That’s certainly your style, Joe.” If they’re clever, they know.
  • It’s about them, not you– Leave your biography out of it. If you don’t like something because of when you were twelve and the babysitter locked you in the closet and blared Enya for hours, just acknowledge all the positives you can muster, and simply state that it’s not your style directly, but you could see where people might connect with it.
  • Imagine the crowd at large, and not just yourself– If you’re truly fishing for ways to empower the creative type, think of 100 people getting a chance to experience this product or service or experience. Tell your creative friend, “Wow, sailors who like Anne Murray and who snowboard are really going to love your new boot warmers.” It’s a good compliment, but says nothing about you directly.
  • Be as honest as you can– again, and finally, don’t be an ass. Try to couch things in a way that you affirm your friendship (or relationship) with the person, but do everything you can to be helpful. Sometimes, creative types are throwing a hundred prototypes out there to see what makes sense, what sticks. If you’re just nodding like a bobble head at all of them, what’s that going to do for your creative friend? Be true.

Ultimately, the goal of most creative class types is to do something that they can be proud of, and that others will find useful. Your participation in the process is valuable, and more so than your blanket phrases and kindness. Be true, be courteous, and be receptive to the needs and hopes of your creative friends.

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Oh, and if you’re the creative, realize that other people won’t always get where you’re going, because they can’t see all the details that you’ve still got stuck in your very active head. That’s okay, too.

–Chris Brogan just helped a friend launch a creative new podcast called The Great Big Small Business Show. He would love for you to try this lesson in person, after you sample the friend’s project. Other times, Chris writes at [chrisbrogan.com]

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019

6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

I’ve stood on the edge of my own personal cliffs many times. Each time I jumped, something different happened. There were risks that started off great, but eventually faded. There were risks that left me falling until I hit the ground. There were risks that started slow, but built into massive successes.

Every risk is different, but every risk is the same. You need to have some fundamentals ready before you jump, but not too many.

It wouldn’t be a risk if you knew everything that was about to happen, would it? Here’re 6 ways to be a successful risk taker.

1. Understand That Failure Is Going to Happen a Lot

It’s part of life. Everything we do has failure attached to it. All successful people have stories of massive failure attached to them. Thinking that your risk is going to be pain free and run as smooth as silk is insane.

Expect some pain and failure. Actually, expect a lot of it. Expect the sleepless nights with crazy thoughts of insecurity that leave you trembling under the covers. It’s going to happen, no matter how positive you are about the risk you are about to take.

When failure hits, the only options are to keep going or quit. If you expect falling into a meadow of flowers and frolicking unicorns, then you’re going to immediately quit once you realize that getting to that meadow requires you to go through a rock filled cave filled with hungry bats.

2. Trust the Muse

Writing a story isn’t a big risk. It’s really just a risk on my time. So when I start writing a story, I’m scared it will be time wasted. Of course, it never really is. Even if the story doesn’t turn out fabulous, I still practiced.

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When I’ve taken risks in my life, the successful ones always seemed to happen when I followed the muse. Steven Pressfield describes the muse,

“The Muse demands depth. Shallow does not work for her. If we’re seeking her help, we can’t stay in the kiddie end. When we work, we have to go hard and go deep.”

The muse is a goddess who wants our attention and wants us to work on our passion.

If you’re taking a risk in anything, it’s assumed that there is some passion built up behind that risk. That passion, deep inside you, is the muse. Trust it, focus on it, listen to it.

The most successful articles and stories I write are the ones I’ve focused all my attention on. There were no interruptions during their creative development. I didn’t check my phone or go watch my Twitter feed. I was fully engaged in my work.

Trust the muse, focus your attention on your risk, let the ideas and path develop themselves, and leave the distractions at the side of the road.

3. Remember to Be Authentic

Taking a risk and then turning into something you’re not, is only going to lead to disaster. Whether you are risking a new relationship or new opportunity, you must be yourself throughout the entire process.

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How many times have you acted like you loved something just because the men or woman you just started going out with loved it?

For example, I’m not an office worker. I have an incredibly hard time working in a confined timeline (ie. 9-5). That’s why I write. I can do it whenever the mood strikes, I don’t have somebody breathing down my neck, telling me that I’m five minutes late, or missed a comma somewhere. I don’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if what I’m writing will get me fired or make me lose a promotion. I can just be myself, period.

One girlfriend didn’t understand that. She believed solely in the 9-5 motto, specifically something in human resources because that was a very stable job. I was scared for my future, but I stuck with the relationship because of my own insecurities and acted like I would do it to make her happy.

Here’s a tip: NEVER take away from your happiness to make somebody else satisfied (note I didn’t say happy).

Making somebody else happy will make you happy. Doing something to satisfy somebody is murder on your soul.

4. Don’t Take Any Risks While You’re Not Clearheaded

I’d been considering the risk for a couple weeks. It all sounded good. I was 22 and I could be rich in a couple of years. That’s what they were selling me, anyways.

One night, while at a house party with some friends, I found myself at a computer. A couple of my friends were standing nearby and asked me what I was doing. I told them I was considering starting my own business and it was only going to cost me $1,500.

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Of course, when a bunch of drunk people are surrounded by more drunk people, things get enthusiastic. It sounded like the best business venture in the world to everybody, including me. So I signed up and gave them my credit card number.

A few painful months and close to $4,000 dollars lost later, I quit the business. I was young and fell into the pyramid scheme trap. It was an expensive drunk decision.

Drinking heavily and making decisions has a proven track record of failure. So when you have something important to decide, don’t let your emotions take over your brain.

5. Fully Understand What You’re Risking

It was the start of my baseball comeback. I got a tryout with a professional scout and killed it. After the tryout, he talked to my girlfriend and myself, making sure we understood I would be gone for up to 6 months at a time. That strain on the relationship could be tough.

We understood. I left to play ball, chose to stay in the city I played in, and a year later we broke up. Not because of baseball, see point 3 above. Taking big risks can have massive impacts on everything in your life from relationships to money. Know what you’re risking before you take the risk.

If you believe the risk will be worth it or you have the support you need from your family, then go ahead and make the leap.

You can get more guidance on how to take calculated risks from this article: How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve More and Become Successful

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6. Remember This Is Your One Shot Only

As far as we know officially, this is our one shot at life, so why not take some risks?

The top thing people are saddened by on their deathbeds are these regrets. They wish they did more, asked that girl in the coffee shop out, spoke out when they should have, or did what they were passionate about.

Don’t regret. Learn and experience. Live. Take the risks you believe in. Be yourself and make the world a better place.

Now go ahead, take that risk and be successful at it!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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