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  • Okay. So this past weekend a really good friend of mine lives in New York called and said

  • How are you feeling about the 99 conference?

  • And my answer was what do you think is the least invasive way

  • To extract eyeball juice from a first-grader

  • And his response was -- oh god! Are you in that place?

  • And I think theyre reallythis is here’s the idea.

  • There’s a total pink eye epidemic in my son’s class.

  • And if I could get some of the juice, I could give myself pink eye would you be a legitimate excuse not to go.

  • And I can even likeyou knowdo a selfie with like a big eye and then it would be legit.

  • And he said, I thought you were excited and I said I was excited.

  • But as I was working on my keynote

  • I realized that I kind of trick myself into believing that this was my tribe.

  • And then I realized that my obsession with funds doesn’t really make me one of you.

  • And he saidwhat is going one when you thought you were one of them?

  • And I said I don’t know I have to think about it.

  • And he said your researcher doesn’t necessarily mean that youre notyou know … a creative.

  • I said no. these are the creative. These are the people that no one saw in the high school.

  • And everybody wants to be when they grow up.

  • I’m a researcher. No one’s sits with when I was in high school. No one still sits with us.

  • So I thought about it. I thought..okay. some researcher study connection, study vulnerability, I study love.

  • And then I realized why I thought you were my tribe.

  • I think it’s because design is a function of connection.

  • There’s nothing more vulnerable than creativity.

  • And what is art? If it’s not love.

  • So it make sense to me, to be here.

  • And then I thought, okay. 99 percent perspiration said don’t talk about inspirational stuff.

  • Talk about the how to.

  • So you know my names. Sometimes I named my keynote presentations things that will make me feel better about being here.

  • So this one called sweaty creatives.

  • Because I know what its mean to be a sweaty creative.

  • Because I create all the time when I write the way I translate my research when I talk.

  • And I know what the perspiration feels like. And so what I wanna talk about today is the perspiration that no one talks about very often.

  • And that’s not the perspirations from the hard work and the laborious part of creating.

  • It’s the perspiration from fear.

  • From the cold sweat. The stuff that pops up on our eyebrows when it’s not supposed to be there.

  • Because were presenting idea are talking about something that we care about

  • And then were begging our body not to sweat.

  • Like when they said, were filming you against black. Can you wear something else?

  • I’m like no.

  • That 99 percent perspiration think I’m done with that. I got that.

  • I won’t be wearing. I’ll be wear….oh yea my option will be navy.

  • So I know about sweaty creative. So I wanna tell you about something that changed my life.

  • As a creative person and it’s a quote from Theodore Roosevelt.

  • And it is completely, I mean I know it sounds cheesy and cliché that quote can change your life.

  • But sometimes when you hear something, when you need to hear it, youre ready to hear it.

  • Something swift inside of you.

  • And so my story is that I’m a researcher and I never thought I would have a big public career.

  • And so I did the TED talk and it went very viral.

  • And in the wake of that I was kind of everywhere for a couple of months on every CNN.com NPR.

  • It was everywhere and something I wasn’t use to.

  • And the marching orders from my therapist and my husband were do not read the comments online.

  • So I read all the comments online.

  • It’s a one morning. I woke up and there were two or three new articles out.

  • And I started reading the comments.

  • And they were devastating.

  • They weren’t about my work. They were about me and were super personal.

  • And they were the thing that creative people play in their mind and then give up doing what they really wanna do.

  • Like if I ask every single one of you, you would trywhat would you try if you knew people would never say this about you.

  • What would that, what would this be?

  • It would those comments in that morning.

  • Of course she embraces imperfection, what choice does she have, look how she looks

  • I feel sorry for her kids. Last research marble tops.

  • Just mean personal attacks the things that really up until that moment had inspired me to stay very small in my life and in my career.

  • Just so that I can avoid these things.

  • So that morning, even the kids leave, I stay home. I get on the couch.

  • And I watch eight hours ofDownton Abbey

  • And when it’s over, I don’t wanna turn off Downton Abbey. Cause the minute you turn off Downton Abbey,

  • then it’s like soccer practice and dinner and back to the mean people.

  • And maybe should I get botox? And maybe you knowif I can stand still when I talk

  • So I get my laptop and I do a search for who was the president of United States during the Downton Abbey era.

  • Have you ever done that like youre numbing a TV or movie and when it’s over you just like

  • Stay in that space by learning more about the actors and what’s going on.

  • I’ve been doing this long enough to know that like youre laughing with me.

  • So I put it in and Theodore Roosevelt comes up and the quote comes up.

  • And I read it. And this is what it says. It’s a quote from a speech that he gave.

  • At the early 1900s,that the time he were born.

  • And a lot of people called me in the arena speech and this is the passage that changed.

  • Changes my life.

  • It’s not the critics who counts, it’s not the man who points out, how the strong man stumbles,

  • Or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

  • The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by blood sweat and blood.

  • Who at the best, in the end knows the triumph of high achievement.

  • And who at worst, if he fails, he fails daring greatly.

  • So the moment that I read that, I close my laptop. And this is what shifted me.

  • Three huge things. First, my spent the last 12 years studying vulnerability.

  • And that quote was the everything I know about vulnerability.

  • It is not about winning. It’s not about losing. It’s about showing up and being seen.

  • The second thing -- this is who I want to be.

  • I want to create. I want to make thing that didn’t exist before I touch them.

  • I want to show up and be seen in my work and in my life.

  • And if youre going to show up and be seen. There’s only one guarantee.

  • And that is youll get your ass kicked.

  • That is the guarantee. That’s the only certainty you have.

  • If you want to go in the arena, and spend anytime in there. Whatsoever, especially, if you commit to creating in your life.

  • Youll get your ass kick.

  • So you have to decide, at that moment, I think for all of us, if the courage is the value we hold

  • This is the consequence. You can’t avoid it.

  • The third thing, which really set me free, and I think my husband me are still argued, this is some more dangerous.

  • It’s kind of a new philosophy about criticism which is this

  • If youre not in the arena, also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.

  • That’s it.

  • I …you know if you have constructive information, feedback to give me, I want it.

  • I’m academic. I’m hard writer for wrestling the stuff like that.

  • Hey! Forgot all this literature. Hey! You should have done this. Or terrible sentence structure over here.

  • Like let’s go! Let’s do it. I love that.

  • But if youre in the cheap seats not putting yourself on the line and just talking about how I can do it better.

  • I’m in no way interested in your feedback.

  • So I know about this wedding creative. What I want to do today I wanna talk very specifically about the arena.

  • This is where we sweat. How many of you know this feeling by just looking at the picture.

  • Yea. Show in hands. How many of you know this feeling.

  • So this is what we do down here. Like I don’t know what you do down here.

  • But I set up camp down here. I like string up twinkle light. I order take out food. I live down here. Sometimes.

  • Just dreaming about the day that I come up. And how awesome it’s gonna be. Like I stay down here a lot.

  • And here’s what we do.

  • What the arena right there, you can see it the light’s there.

  • And the fear is this. I’m scared. Lots of self-doubt. Comparison. Anxiety.

  • Uncertainty. And so what’s most people do when they walk into the arena.

  • And those things are gonna to greed them up top. What do you do?

  • Your armed out right? This is why I would imagine all days. They got all their stuff on.

  • But god! That stuff is heavy. And that stuff is suffocating. And the problem is when your armed up.

  • Against vulnerability. You shut yourself off. And I said this to audiences before but I have never said it to audiences this more true than today.

  • The second, when you arm are up, you armed up in this hallway.

  • You shut yourself off from everything. That you do and that you love.

  • Because vulnerability is certainly a part of fear and self-doubt and grief and uncertainty and shame.

  • But it’s also the birthplace of these.

  • It’s the birthplace of love, of belonging, of joy, trust, empathy.

  • Creativity and innovation.

  • Without vulnerability, you cannot create.

  • So what I think youre asked to do as a creative on a daily basis is walk through this hall.

  • Get to the top of the stairs, and get naked.

  • Of course.

  • Get naked. Get really real. Put yourself out there and walk out there.

  • So people can see you and see what youve made, see what youre doing.

  • So when we walk out. This is what we see.

  • Lots of seats. Lots of people. But we focus on this.

  • The critics.

  • I used to think the best way to put you work out to the world is to make sure the critics are not in the arena.

  • But you have no control over who’s in the arena.

  • And the best way I have found is to know that theyre there and to know exactly what theyre going to say to you.

  • Cause each of you know.

  • The tree seats that will always be taken when you walk into the arena, when you share your work with someone.

  • The three seats will always be taken. Our shame, scarcity and comparison.

  • Shame. Completely universal human emotion. We all have it.

  • It’s that groom that whisper youre not enough.

  • Or if youre feeling really confident.

  • I guess this was … I went to this like in itlike the god’s talking.

  • I went back and forth from like a ping pong table with groom ones.

  • Back from. Oh my god! I’m not enough. I’m not enough. To I can do this. I can totally dooh! Who do you think you are

  • That’s the other groom one. That’s how it works. Like look at you too big for your britches.

  • I clearly have texts for this groom ones. And now everyone says too big for the britches.

  • But that’s my groom one says. So shame always has a seat.

  • The other seat that’s always taken is scarcity.

  • What am I doing, that everyone, what am I doing it’s original.

  • Everyone else is doing this. 150 people are doing it who are better trained then I am.

  • What am I contributing? Did this really matter.

  • The third seat always comparison.

  • How many of you have ever struggle with comparison? Oh my god! Comparison is a nightmare.

  • I made a pact not to talk to anyone in the green room cause that’s what I was afraid.

  • And that I would end up doing.

  • So what are you talking about? That’s interesting cause I’m going first.

  • And so if it sounds super good and I think I suck comparatively, I may say that.

  • And I’m catching a flight to Dallas.

  • Comparison is always there.

  • The fourth seat I left open for you.

  • You got it in the fourth seat. Is it a teacher, is the the parents, is it a shitty coworker?

  • Maybe one of you had one of those.

  • The thing is I don’t care what people think. I don’t worry about the critics in the arena.

  • Since a huge red flag up for me. were hard-wired for connection when we stop caring what people think

  • We lose our capacity for connection. We would become defined by what people think.

  • We lose our capacity to be vulnerable.

  • Not caring what people think is its own kind of hostile. Trust me.

  • So rather than locking these spokes out in the arena, what I’m gonna invite you to do.

  • This way maybe.

  • Is reserved seats for them. Which doesn’t seem like a good thing to do.

  • But I’ve 13,000 pieces of data and I’ve been in this work for 12 years.

  • And what I’ve found, what I‘ve learned from these folks and try to apply it in my own life that has changed my life.

  • Is to reserve a seat to take the critics to watch and simply say what I’m trying to do something new.

  • And hard and original. I’m trying to be creative and I’m trying to innovate to say I see you.

  • I hear you. But I’m gonna show up and do this anyway.

  • And I’ve got a seat for you and youre welcome to come. But I’m not interested in your feedback.

  • The other piece is tough is to me, if youre going to spend your life in the arena.

  • If youre gonna spend your life showing up, really showing up.

  • There’s a couple things that you need. The first is the clarity of values.

  • You have it. Like I knowwhen I came out here I knew I could screw this completely up.

  • I can get boo off stage. Bad things could happen but I don’t have a choice.

  • Because courage is my value. I have to do this. Whether it’s successful or not is irrelevant.

  • So a real clarity of values is important. The other thing is you gotta have at least one person in your life

  • Who’s willing to pick you up and dust you off and look at you when you fail which hopefully you will.

  • Cause if youre not failing, youre not really showing up.

  • But who’s willing to look at you when you fail and sayman! That sucked!

  • Yeah! It was totally as bad as you thought. But youre brave.

  • And let’s get you cleaned up and because youre gonna go back in.

  • And this is someone who loves you not despite your imperfection and vulnerability because of them.

  • And they should have great seats in arena. Like I forgot for decade. I forgot to invite these people into my arena.

  • Because you knowit’s hold up I was going to say Carl Marx but it’s Groucho Marx. Difference.

  • I’m a social worker. Weary a lot more Carl than Groucho.

  • I don’t wanna belong to a club that won’t let me in.

  • I forgot to invite people cause I thought if youre my fan, if youre here supporting me how important could you be?

  • Like I’m trying to win over the people who hate me.

  • You simply love me. you simply hold my hair up when I’m puking.

  • You pay bills with me and raise kids with me. how important could you be?

  • I’m looking for the stranger in the mall. That’s whom I’m trying to win over.

  • Yes or no? okay.

  • The last part is so I guess the real specific how to are this.

  • The world keeps going whether you know it or not.

  • The critics are in the arena whether you identify them and think of the message that keep us small.

  • Theyre there whether you do that or not.

  • What I have found in my life and what I’ve found in my research which fueled what I did in my life.

  • Is that the people who have the most courage, who are willing to show and to be the most vulnerable are the ones who very clear about who the critics are.

  • The ones who reserve seats for them and said I hear you, I get it. I know where messaging is coming from.

  • I’m not buying it anymore. So to get very clear.

  • The last thing which I think is the hardest is this.

  • One of these seats needs to be reserved for you. One of these seats needs to be reserved for me.

  • I need when we look up. And were putting an idea, our piece of art, our design forward.

  • Who do you think is the biggest critic in the arena normally is? yourself.

  • And so definitely me. like I have never watched either of those TED talks.

  • Cause it’s not in service of the work for me, and I try to do things are only in service at my work.

  • Because what would it serve me to watch it? I was sitting there and go oh my god! It’s stuck in your stomach. Oh my god!

  • That not what youre gonna say. You know.

  • We are so self-critical. And one of the things that I think happens and I think this happens a lot.

  • It happens in different professions. I think I see it a lot with creative is there is an ideal of what youre supposed to be.

  • And what a lot of us end up doing is we orphaned the parts of ourselves that do fit that ideal I suppose to be.

  • And what it would leaves when we orphaned all those parts of us. It’s just leaves the critics.

  • And so reserving the seat is this.