Dance With “What If…?”

886. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I’m on the road today and a new posts is impossible. So a repost. This was #555:

David just started his new job. He is now a professor of acting and directing at a university. He just finished his first week of classes after moving to a new city a few short weeks ago; he’ s the new member of an old faculty; everything is strange. He has no comfortable patterns yet, the grocery store is unknown, the walk to and from work is more a discovery than a ritual. Creating a new life is never easy precisely because of the unknowns. And, what I love about David is that he is the consummate teacher, a gifted artist that uses his experiences as fodder for class; he studies his life just and uses what he finds as material for his work.

Our conversation was about his students, about how dreadfully reinforced they are in the notion that they have “to know” before they commit to an action. He laughed and told me, “I was the same way! I had to work through this debilitating idea that I needed to know what I was doing before I made a choice. Consequently, I had a hard time making choices!”

I’ve yet to meet a dynamic, potent artist or businessperson who really knows what they are doing. Artists become potent when they stop thinking that they need to know. What they need do is try, experiment, offer, wreck, scribble, tear, sculpt; play. They need to make a strong choice and follow it. They dance in the fields of “what if…?” By the way, this is also known as good scientific method: state a hypothesis and test it.

As David and I discussed, needing to “know what you are doing” is a certain sign of feeling like a fraud. All of us have at one time or another ducked behind a mask of certainty to hide our belief that we were inauthentic – and we felt inauthentic because we invested in the tragic notion that we needed to know before we acted. Putting down your need to know is a passage ritual, it is the threshold to vitality and self-actualization.

Life is never found in the knowing. It is always found in the questioning. It is made vital by the freedom to experience without masking or hiding behind the castle wall of knowing. The sweet secret to bold artistry is the same sweet secret to vital living; whisper it to yourself as it seems to be a dirty little secret: nobody knows what they are doing regardless of what they pretend.

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