Give Up on Yourself
How I handled the pressure of success I put on myself
Nothing beats a situation when the pressure’s off.
I spent a decade working in Hollywood, running social media advertising campaigns for some of the biggest movies ever. From Avatar to Captain America, Moana to Minions, Spider-Man to Star Wars, my teams ran over 600 campaigns.
Do you know which campaigns were the most fun? The small ones. The ones with low expectations. We had immense freedom on those films; we could experiment and, you know, have fun? The thing you’re supposed to do with art? In contrast, the X-Men movies were always the hardest because SO MANY eyes were on them. They HAD to make GAZILLIONS of dollars, or people lost their jobs.
Most leaders I know (including myself!) also feel like they have something to protect: their Image of Success.
If you’re a boss, you MUST have the answers for your team. If you’re a founder, you MUST do anything to make payroll, even if you hate it. If you’re a leader, you must NEVER make mistakes.
You can feel trapped by the Image of Success you think others are expecting you to be.
I’ll pause a moment because I bet you skimmed that. Look again. The image of success. That you think. Others expect. You to be.
This isn’t about success. I’m talking about perceived self-image. About caring what others think of you more than knowing your own value. I’m talking about the pain of pretend expectations.
I know this pain quite well.
Even in the midst of great success, I have been worried, FOR YEARS, about what people think of me. In 2017, I was named to Advertising Age’s annual 40 Under 40 list, and my first thought was, “Will people think I deserve this?” I was walking by myself in New York City when I got the news, rain gently falling in the night. I got the email confirmation, and it came with 40 comments from 40 of my colleagues about how great I was. But I couldn’t see it. My Image of Success blinded me.
You see, this problem works on either side of success — if you have it, you worry about what people will think. If you’re privately faltering, you worry that people will treat any type of failure like a black mark that can’t be washed away.
There’s only one way through this pain: Give up on yourself.
I began to give up on being paralyzed by what I (mistakenly) thought others thought of me.
I ADMITTED that I want success. There’s nothing wrong with desiring to win. But it’s the IMAGE of success–that’s the killer.
I REALIZED that no one really cares about my success. It cuts both ways: at best, people wish me well and are happy for me. And at worst, they don’t think about me at all. They’re busy thinking about themselves! It’s freeing to realize this truth. Now I dance like everyone is watching.
Finally, I got VULNERABLE. Admitted my real thoughts and feelings. I started to write, every day, the scariest and most honest thing I could (like this post!). This very act has opened up my world, my mind, my creativity, my relationships, and my opportunities. In just six weeks of posting. No lie!
You know if you're pretending. Your team can smell it. They know something’s up. They want to show up for you. Your friends and family and colleagues want to show up for you. Let them in.
Give up on (what others think of) yourself. I did, and I’ll never be the same again.
Thanks for reading. Always appreciate it.
Give a shout or leave a comment if this resonated with you:
And thanks for subscribing!