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The Benefits of the Fear of Serious Embarrassment

Enough of people’s big dreams, their passion, and their singular ways of achieving greatness.

You’d think that the people who’ve had great success of one sort or another had an almost magical immunity to the fits and starts and nearly endless bouts of uncertainty that seem to plague everyone else. The truth is closer to this: Human beings are 98.6 percent full of doubt and uncertainty, and only 1.4 percent full of self-assuredness and determination.

They’ll fool you to let you think they’re far more confident then they seem, but those aforementioned numbers are the facts.

And yes, I’m aware that you’re thinking: “He didn’t even mention self-discipline!” The reason I omitted mention of it is because even though everyone’s looking for it and trying to develop it, not one of us has it. No one has self-discipline.

What we sometimes have  -- and it often looks to the untrained eye just like self discipline -- is, “will.” The will to achieve.

The word “will” sounds so noble, and I suppose it sometimes is. Usually though, human will exists simply to avoid pain and ignominy.

Let me simplify this. The human will exists to keep the individual free from failure and/or serious embarrassment and so, pushed on by face-saving will, many individuals achieve a measure of success  -- and we won’t even begin to discuss what constitutes success… (suffice it to say that if you’ve got a wonderful family, good friends, a well paying job that you love, great health and good sex, you’re probably pretty successful).

Why am I even mentioning this? Well, lately I’ve taken some time off from an extremely high paying (though sometimes stultifying) job to pursue something of a dream. A flight of fancy, really, which comes down to me starring in my own musical variety show and broadcasting it live to the entire planet from a recording studio in my backyard.

I call it the “Furious World.” The show has been improving and gaining momentum. We’ve had some nice things written about us. We’ve had some great guests: Hollywood writer David Hollander, singer-actress Rebecca Pigeon, Barbara Hall of "Judging Amy" fame, the guy from the Jet Propulsion Lab who drives the Mars rover, Tom Morrey who created the Boogie Board, bestselling author Daniel Levitin  -- we’ve even had Sharon Waxman from TheWrap join us!

For the first few months the show had been possessing me. I’d lie awake nights thinking about music, planning guests and making lists. Notably, there’s not been a trace of self-discipline anywhere in this whole process. Just a unwavering will to avoid failure and/or serious embarrassment and until now, I’d been going about each day with enthusiasm and purpose.

I could see the strides we were making, both technically and on a marketing level. Things were happening! People were calling!

“Imagine,” I thought, “making a fortune doing exactly what I’d always wanted to do. Being my own boss. Using social technology to soar into the hearts and minds of the world. Skirting the system and doing it all without having to pay obeisance to the f---ing man!”
 
Now I’m more than five months into the dream, and while I’m still excited about its prospects, things we dreamers dejectedly call “realities” are beginning to set in. The audience numbers are not where I want them to be, the band needs a raise, my crew needs to be paid and the show’s not bringing in much revenue. I’m nearly ready to break down and pay obeisance -- but I don’t have “the f---ing man’s” email address and he sure as shit isn’t following me on Twitter.
 
This is the point at which I feel in dire need of a couple things.

First, I need a damn good reason to continue. Whether this reason comes from deep within the recesses of my heart or from my lawyer telling me someone from Viacom is on the line and wants to make a deal -- it really doesn’t matter.

Second, I need a deep unwavering fear of quitting my dream at a point when tomorrow -- or the next day, might possibly be the moment at which this whole enterprise tips to my benefit and indelibly changes my life for the better.
 
I’ve decided to chronicle this crossroads-like place I’m in for the benefit of you, dear reader, who may be facing a similar dilemma in the manifestation of your own creative offerings. Not to mention the fact that putting this all out there for everyone to see, gives me yet another chance to benefit from the fear of failure and/or serious embarrassment.

Be on the lookout from more missives from me, written from the trenches of the possible; where we dreamers learn to survive on air that's only 1.4 percent self assurance.

 

A truly multi-faceted musician, Peter Himmelman is a critically lauded rock troubadour, a Grammy nominated creator of children’s music, and an Emmy nominated film and television composer. His online live variety show "The Furious World" showcases talent straight from the studio, Tuesdays at 7 p.m. PT (@furiousworld on Twitter).