With A Little Help From My Friends

Meet Mr. F and Mr. D. They have an opinion about that thing you’re doing.

I’d like to introduce you to two of my closest friends. We’ve known each other since childhood. In fact, we have done almost everything together.

They were there when my Rudolph nose fell off during the fourth grade Christmas show. The first time I asked out a girl. And during my first business presentation.

Okay, they missed my wedding. But they’ve been around for everything else, just like close friends should be.

Both of them have always been at my side when I put the things I create out into the world. They never miss that.

Here’s the funny thing: You probably know them, too.

Meet Mr. F and Mr. D

They are with me right now, as I write this. Meet my very special friends, Mr. Doubt and Mr. Fear.

Doubt is wearing a grubby t-shirt and shoving junk food into his face, insisting this paragraph will never come together. You’re wasting your time, Keith. The slob is sure he’s right. Just give up and sit on the couch and watch television, pal. It’s much easier.

Mr. Fear is right there, curled up on the floor in a corner of my office, murmuring. What are you thinking? The world will laugh at you. People will criticize you. Stay small and safe, like me. He twitches with each letter I type on the keyboard.

I hate those guys. Yet, I can never completely get rid of them. No matter how hard I’ve tried, they always show up at a critical moment. Usually when I’m about to take a chance or risk something.

I’m guessing that you have a few friends like Fear and Doubt, too. Maybe they go by different names, but they’re equally unhelpful and they’re always hanging around.

Living With Jerks

We’re not alone. The most interesting people I know are friends with Fear and Doubt, too.

A CEO who put everything on the line, locked himself in his apartment and didn’t emerge until he had hand-coded the software that would eventually become a successful company.

A designer who navigated his studio through the loss of his business partner, to emerge even stronger.

They’ve told me that Fear and Doubt were with them every step of the way, sometimes laying beside them in the dark of night, whispering horrible things in their ear. You will fail. You will lose everything.

Here’s the amazing thing about the CEO and the designer. They know how to make Mr. Fear and Mr. Doubt’s voices quieter.

Acknowledge, Move On

This is what the CEO and the designer have learned. Acknowledge Fear and Doubt. Give them a nod. Then do the work anyway. Write the newsletter. Call the client. Have the hard conversation. Put that thing you made out into the world.

It’s going to be fine. Mr. Fear and Mr. Doubt can’t do anything once you take action. All they can do is sit there. Doubt with crumbs on his stained t-shirt, Fear in shock because you’re ignoring his blubbering.

You haven’t fought them or tried to kick them out. That’s pointless anyway. They’ll only come roaring back, more obnoxious than ever.

Instead, you’ve invited them in, made them comfortable, and gone on with the thing you want to do. The only choice they have is to watch while you make something great.

Hey, Fear. What’s up, Doubt? Have a seat. I’m going to create something great and show it to everyone.

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Hi, I’m Keith Monaghan. I’m a researcher. I help creative teams understand the big picture of their project before they start. Once the project starts, I help them understand the details.

Informed team. Awesome project. Happy clients.

How can I help your team with their project?

Keith Monaghan