Innovating Through Artistry

Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Fear Makes the Wolf Bigger than He Is.

In Author: Jim Hart on August 25, 2009 at 9:32 am

“Fear Makes the Wolf Bigger than He Is”.

This old German proverb hits the nail on the head.

Fear is the great “mind number”. This emotion, more often than not, is the greatest obstacle that prevents us from achieving our goals, dreams and potential. What this means is that our downfall or lack of success is largely of our own making and, thus, within our own control.

Overcoming of fear is what the Mythic Structure of the Journey of the Hero is about–or rather, Fear and Doubt. But really, just fear, as doubt is a derivative of fear.

The fear we often anticipate, when encountering new experience, is almost always greater than the peril the actual experience brings. In brief, we can work ourselves into a tizzy, fearing the unknown and “what might happen”. Our imaginations create monsters under the bed and in the closet. But as adults, we know that those monsters and wolves are not really there. They are self-generated.

Here is a question for you:  In beginning a process of change, when you feel fear, what is it that you are afraid of?

If you are like most, it is the UNKNOWN. But let’s think about this for a minute. Do you ever really know what is going to happen next? If you live a predictable life, you can predict what is to happen next (and sometimes even with some certainty), but you never really know. Life is a mystery. The other thing that most people fall into the trap of, is fearing failure, embarrassment, humiliation. These words translate to mean JUDGEMENT. People will always judge–for good or bad and such judgements we have no control over. Besides, is that a valid reason for surrendering dreams and potential? Fear of the unknown (which is life) and judgement (which is inevitable)?

Letting other peoples’ judgement affect our actions is a giving over of our own power and authority to others. Why should they have that sort of authority? We each have the potential to be the makers of our own destinies and are each far more powerful than most of us even realize.

How do we overcome our fear? Experience.

Experience brings perspective and knowledge.

How do we gain experience, even though our hearts race with fear and our fight or flight mechanism is saying, “Run”?      Here it is:    Just keep going.  Go through the experience.  Allow the fear to be present and just keep going.

When we enter a spook house during the Halloween season, we are confronted with all sorts of intense stimuli. People jump out at us, we see scary sites, our fight or flight mechanism is engaged, etc. But as any person who has been to such a horror house knows, if you just keep going forward, you inevitably exit out of the house and into the cool night air, away from the illusion of mayhem.

The trick is to not just stand in place in a state of shock or to retreat to supposed safety (away from our destination or goal), but to keep going forward, putting one foot in front of the other.

Entrepreneurial Arts Training teaches artists how to succeed, despite overwhelming obstacles and teaches, via experience, how to overcome our greatest obstacle of all–our self-imposed fears and the obstacles we create for ourselves.

Jim Hart is the founder of The Hart Technique and Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts (ACPA). In the autumn of 2010, ACPA will open doors in Austin, TX. To learn more about the educational offerings, contact Hart at

Listening with intentionality

In Author: Michael Gold, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on July 31, 2009 at 6:46 am

-Mark Twain

Jazz is predicated on a very unique type of listening. It’s a listening style that isn’t new but one that requires some explanation. It is kind of listening that is open rather than closed. Closed listening? That seems like an oxymoron but actually most of the listening we do is listening for what we think we know and once that notion is satisfied we stop listening. But the type of listening in which we are willing to suspend our own way of looking at the world in order to try on someone else’s perspective … is listening with intentionality. This is listening with the purpose of examining, understanding and living in someone else’s world — without trying to pass judgment on that world.

Listening with intentionality is listening with the purpose of learning what we don’t already know. This isn’t necessarily what’s going on when most people say “I’m listening.” But it is what’s happening when great jazz players improvise together.

Listening with intentionality draws the other four elements of the APRIL sequences into action. It’s the verb that transforms Autonomy, Passion, Risk, and Innovation into processes you can use in the workplace – or anywhere else.

Listening with intentionality is not the same as hearing, although it begins with hearing. All of the information we use to create the world comes through the sensual experiences of touch, sight, smell, taste, and, perhaps most interesting of all, sound. I find sound to be unique for two overlapping reasons. First, we can’t close our ears the way we do with our eyes or refrain from the act of touch or taste. Hearing happens constantly. The act of hearing is so deeply embedded in our psyches that most of the time it is a sense that we are at best, subconsciously aware of and, at worst, unconscious about. The second reason this sense is different is due to the nature of the stimulus of sound itself. Sound is ephemeral. A sound occurs in time, perhaps slowly or quickly — but either way it happens and then it is gone. Visual stimulae occur in time as well, but much of what we see is fixed; we can scan it over and over again, giving us the luxury of multiple “takes” in order to perceive the deepest and most accurate meaning of what we see. With hearing, it is very different. If we wish to perceive deepest and most accurate meaning of a sound, we have only the moment of engagement to move beyond hearing and actually listen to what is happening. To really listen is an action that requires practice, discipline and awareness. To really listen means to understand the we are predisposed to a “default setting” in our minds that filters out a great deal of what we hear. We are programmed to recognize that which is already familiar. There are valid evolutionary reasons for this default setting but unfortunately in a world of nuance, change and complexity this kind of “defensive” listening often works against us. The challenge is to listen for what we don’t yet understand … and that can give rise to both dissonance and uncertainty.

Listening with intentionality means opening up and tapping into the wide realm of our own, and other peoples’, creative capacity. If we learn to “listen” as the artist listens, our businesses, our organizations, and our societies can meet the challenge of solving critical problems by developing solutions that can only be developed by means of the collaborative intelligence made possible through listening with intentionality.

Listening with intentionality means putting the other person’s mind at ease by connecting with that person for long enough to respectfully “inhabit” his or her point of view. When we are listening in this way, we are not prompting a defensive response by interrogating, demanding, judging, or disengaging. The human brain cannot proactively learn if there’s an orientation towards threat or fear. It can only reactively respond by trying to reinforce everything it already knows to counteract the threat.

Listening with intentionality means getting beyond our own operational reality for long enough to discover someone else’s operational reality — and that takes patience and practice. “Through Listening” – the kind of listening that inspires movement beyond core operating assumptions from all parties — requires that we move past old, outdated reactions we may have been replaying in self-defense since childhood … and lay the groundwork for mature, collaborative, peer-to-peer responses that make it possible for us to uncover new realities, new assumptions, and new working principles. Creating mature, collaborative responses almost always requires the ability to pose courageous questions … and then follow those questions in unpredictable directions. THIS LISTENING IS RISKY, BECAUSE IT REQURES ACCEPTING VULNERABILITY TO THE NEW.

Listening with intentionality means being ready to be curious. Curiosity is how we navigate this type of explorational listening. Curiosity taps our intuition, points us in new directions and helps us to pose intelligent questions.

Listening with intentionality means building bridges among diverse interest, and laying the groundwork for community to arise.