The cost and benefit of moving outside your edges

If you’ve never performed a choreographed dance routine in front of 100 people, let me assure you that it can be more than frightening.

Standing up there on stage, the dancer is tasked with showing not only their ability to move, but to prove that they have what it takes to completely dedicate themselves to something they are passionate about. A mistake may very well be an accident, but it could just as easily come across as an indicator that the dancer didn’t prepare hard or long enough.

The tension grows as the audience does as well. From 100 to 1,000 people the cost of a misstep becomes huge. Suddenly there’s a 10 times increase in the number of eyeballs that might potentially see a misstep.

But nobody can make it as a world-class dancer unless they face the fear of performing in front of at least 1,000 sets of eyes.

This is the cost of any creative risk.

A writer who only publishes his or her work in a close-knit circle of friends and acquaintances can’t become world-renown. There’s simply not enough traction in such a small circle of readers to make it happen. Likewise, an artist who is too shy to display his or her work in a large gallery (digitally or physically) will struggle to thrive. The musician who refuses to put her work on SoundCloud because “the comments are too aggressive” is going to have an even harder time performing in front of a real, new audience far away from home. Not always, but more often than not.

Similarly, the inventor who hides his or her invention away for fear that someone will break it is missing the point all together.

To grow creatively we have to push our personal boundaries.

Why? Because creativity doesn’t exist where we already know how the audience will react, or where we know the feedback will be mostly positive and encouraging. Creativity doesn’t exist in the scope we are most comfortable with. It can’t. By definition creativity lies just outside of what we know and are comfortable being around.

To really find our creative potential we have to explore our edges, even if it makes us feel like our ideas or actions are no good, too risky, or ridiculous. We have to be at least somewhat uncertain.

Photo via Flickr.