July 1

Reframe Your Startup Fears As An Art Project

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Art is a human act, a generous contribution, something that might not work, and it is intended to change the recipient for the better, often causing a connection to happen.

Seth Godin

When starting a new business, venture or project, I often find myself filled with doubt, fear and apprehension wondering if it will work out, what others will think and if this is the right path for me.

One day I decided to reframe it as an art project. This allowed me to relax and realize that some people will like it, others won’t. It may look different later than I envision it now.


And I’m not committing to one art project for the rest of my life. I can say it’s done before it’s perfect and move on to another art project. But like any work of art, it reminds me to bring passion, energy and love. But most of all it reminds me to play.


Because if something is considered work we all tend to try to avoid it. When it’s considered play, entertainment or art, we tend to pursue it.


There’s a lot of noise in my head when I’m starting something new.


Will it work? Will people like it? Will they buy it? Will it take longer than expected or cost more than I budgeted? Will I be doing this for years? What if I don’t want to do this in a couple years? Will it scale? Is it worth my time? Should I be doing something else instead.


Personally, two of the biggest questions that scream into my ear are


  • 1. “What will they think?”
  • 2. “Do you really want to commit long term to this?”


Let's look closer at them here:


“What will they think?”


I care what other people think of me. I want them to like me, what I do. I seek external validation. I know I shouldn’t. I try to do it less. And as I’ve gotten more experience, the less I care.


But it’s human nature to want to fit in, be liked, accepted and find success with our ventures.

It’s times like this when I reframe what I’m working on as an art project.


Because it reminds me that some people will like it, others may hate it and most people will either not get it or will never see it anyway.


“Do you really want to commit long term to this?”


I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, it’s always changing and I’ve never felt that one path suits me.


I love new novel things, ideas, businesses and experiences. Trying to pick a singular path is painful.


But I don’t like to jump around and half-ass projects either and since time is the most precious thing of all, I don’t want to waste it.


To get over this, I reframe using the art project metaphor.


And then I ask myself:


  • “Is this important to me?”
  • “Will I enjoy working on it even if it doesn’t work out like I planned?”
  • “Will I get to bring love and passion to it?”

If the answers are yes, then I think of it as an art project.


How To Use This For Yourself


If you want to use this reframe, here’s what I recommend you do.


First answer these questions:
  • - Will you have fun and be highly engaged?

  • - Will it help, add value or even entertain anyone else?

  • - Can you make money with it?

  • - Does it absolutely need to work or will you be ok if everything doesn’t work out as planned (hint: it never does).

  • - Can you be more fueled by the people it helps than the people who just don’t get it or even those who might hate it or you for doing it?

  • - Can you do something else if it doesn’t work or you decide you don’t want to do it anymore? Will the skills you pick up along the way help you in the next venture?


Answer these questions honestly.


Then tell yourself that you’re about to start a new art project. 


And bring the passion, the love and a big piece of yourself with it.


To hell with the critics. 


Make art for you and for your people.



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