Elizabeth Gilbert on showing up

It’s TED”s fifth birthday. 1000 talks, 81 languages, viewed 1/2 billion times. So I went back and watched one of the most popular talks: Elizabeth Gilbert on creativity and the fear we have around…just doing it.


I’ve been talking about this over the week in Sydney with friends who are blocked. They’re creative. In all different ways. They get blocked. And it drags them down because of the pressure to be creative. So I went looking for this talk.

I like how Elizabeth talks about creating psychological constructs to keep her safe from her anxiety about her block so she can keep being creative. It’s simple and reassuring.

Elizabeth says:

Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed, for just one moment through your efforts, then ‘Ole!’ And if not, do your dance anyhow. And ‘Ole!’ to you, nonetheless. I believe this and I feel that we must teach it. ‘Ole!’ to you, nonetheless,just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.

Maria on Brainpickings said this:

Gilbert makes a powerful case for the tremendous importance of showing up — of good old-fashioned hard work — in the creative process, something we all intuitively understand but often roll our eyes at because it isn’t as exciting and glamorous and alluring as the prospect of a Eureka moment or a single flash of insight that magically transforms our mediocrity into genius.

That’s what I’m doing today. Showing up. Not thinking I have to be a genius. I can do genuis. Putting in hours, a la Malcolm Gladwell and Einstein:

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Reassuring, yes?

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