Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back


Preston Bailey On Overcoming Fear

In my work, I meet and talk to lots of different people. One thing that comes up again and again is how difficult and humbling design work is. Being a designer is hard; it’s hard on the mind and the spirit. After all, every time you design something, you’re putting a piece of yourself out there to be judged by the world. That’s some frightening stuff. So frightening in fact that some talented designers are never able to move past it. They spend their entire careers held back by fear.

But it doesn’t have to turn out like that. Remember, it all begins with the design process. Do I love designing? Well, I know I love eating dessert! And I certainly love spending time with my partner. I love waking up at a the beach and going for a long run, too. I love lots of things. But designing? Well… maybe.

The thing about designing is that it speaks right to your ego. Designing makes me feel exposed. Part of designing is making yourself vulnerable, and that means that sometimes you’re going to have to face those dreadful feelings of self-doubt. It’s one thing to design for yourself, but most of us spend our days designing for clients. Clients judge our work. They’re supposed to. But that’s what makes us vulnerable. We’re at the whim of someone’s else preferences. You want the client to love your design and, therefore, love you, too.

I think that’s one reason I always give my clients multiple options. I also know that my goal is NOT to be a great designer but rather an effective designer. When I give my clients two or three strong options, I know I am increasing my effectiveness. I like thinking in terms of effective, because it keeps me from focusing on the selfish desire to be the greatest and best. It’s better for me and my clients if I let effectiveness drive me.

Okay, well, now the more I think about designing the more I realize that I do love it. Forget the maybe: I LOVE DESIGNING. I love the challenge of it, and I love surprising a jaded client, who’s done and seen it all. I even like all the bad designs I’ve created over the last thirty years. It’s like mining for gold: you have to dig through a lot of dirt and mud to find that one shiny nugget.

I truly believe that all of us have a divine creative light just waiting to break out and shine. The trick is not letting your ego or a fear of failure stand in your way.

Dear Readers, has fear ever held you back? How did you move past it? Do you have a word or a phrase, like effective, that you use to center and focus your work? What is it? Please share.

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(Image via The Sweetest Occasion)