- Artwork by Eli Jorgensen
Be sure to check out Part I
Denise Jacobs teaches us how to banish our inner critic. She motivates us to realize what we’re capable of creatively. She encourages us to overcome the fear of the unknown by turning that fear into curiosity. She also guides us into how to ask for feedback in a way that’s healthy and beneficial to us.
Banish Your Inner Critic
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Denise Jacobs is a Speaker + Author + Creativity Evangelist who speaks at conferences and consults with companies worldwide. As the Founder + CEO of The Creative Dose, keynote speaker, and trainer, she helps individuals in companies unleash their creativity through banishing their inner critic and hacking their creative brains. Denise’s keynotes and trainings give A Creative Dose™ – an injection of inspiration and immediately applicable tools to help people do their best work. Through working with Denise, people become engaged contributors, synergistic collaborators, and authentic leaders. Denise is the author of Banish Your Inner Critic, the premier handbook on silencing fears to unleash creativity. A web and tech industry veteran, Denise is also the author of The CSS Detective Guide and co-author of the Smashing Book 3 1/3 and Interact with Web Standards. She is also the founder of Rawk The Web and the Head Instigator of The Creativity (R)Evolution.
- Why do so many think they’re not creative? (6:08)
- Name that inner critic! (28:13)
- Listener Question: How do you honestly critique your work when fighting against low self-esteem? (43:35)
- Best advice for imposter syndrome sufferers? (80:34)
Jason Ogle: Welcome back User Defenders. We are here, we’re live. You’re hearing this later. But Denise and I were here again, and we are going to continue and actually wrap up this conversation. It was so rich, the first part that thankfully Denise agreed to come back to wrap this up with Part 2. So, I am so grateful, Denise, that you’ve come back and to try to wrap us this wonderful compelling and very relevant conversation up with us.
Denise Jacobs: Of course, it’s my pleasure. You know, how many times do people go, ‘’oh, we have to come back for a second interview, yes!!!’’
Jason Ogle: Well, awesome! And Defenders listening, I just want you to know just how gracious Denise is, she’s actually flying out today, on this day to speak, I thought she was out of the country perhaps. Is that what I understood?
Denise Jacobs: I’m flying to Campinas, Brazil.
Jason Ogle: Oh my goodness. So, imagine that like all these things she’s trying to get out the door, but she agreed to take this time today to make this happen because; this was the only other opportunity we’d have for probably at least a month or so after. So, thank you so much Denise.
Denise Jacobs: And again, my pleasure. I had a great time talking last week, so we just have to do it again.
Jason Ogle: Awesome! Yes, we get to. I love that. So, I want to kind of jump back in and I can’t even remember exactly where we left off, the last thing I said was, oh my gosh, I got to go physical therapy. And I made the conversation started a little late because I had to water the chickens because they were dying I think in the side yard here. So, I was hearing them and that would have made it into the recording. So anyway, the only problem I have now is I have a butterfly in the garage somewhere and I was telling Denise just made me think of that “Breaking Bad” episode where, you know, there was a fly in their meth lab, but you know, we’re making awesome radio here. We’re doing something way better than cooking meth.
Denise Jacobs: I guess it depends on who the person is like, ‘’yoo, I don’t know’’.
Jason Ogle: That’s subjective
Denise Jacobs: [inaudible 01:59]
Jason Ogle: What is success to you, right? Like that’s kind of the question you’d ask that person. What does success mean to you?
Denise Jacobs: That’s hilarious.
Jason Ogle: Oh goodness. So, we’re talking all about banishing the inner critic and I love how you call the inner critic too, because we also know is aka “Imposter Syndrome”. So, I just think I feel like the inner critic is a really neat term as well and it’s something that you don’t hear as much on all the podcasts and everything, but you know, we certainly all that any of us who are creative, and I wager, you know, everybody listening to this as creative, everybody’s creative. Every single person on the face of this planet is creative. And I think it’s just a matter of whether you believe it or not. And so, and I think, you know, again, Denise’s book will help you believe, if you’re not a believer. And that’s God’s honest truth right there. So, let’s jump into to creativity. You know, why do so many people, and this is totally, you know, this goes along with the inner critic part of this is, why do so many of us think that we aren’t creative?
Denise Jacobs: I think what’s so, I can’t remember if it was Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk or you know, this is one of those stories that’s traveled around a lot and I’m not even sure the origin. But apparently, there is a study done where they took a group of like 4 or 5 or 6 year olds and ask them, how many of you guys are creative? And 80% of them raised their hands, and like me, definitely, totally me, right? Came back 10 years later, I think it was 6 or 5 or 10. Anyway, came back 10 years later, so now, they’re either 14 or 15 or 16, I think they are 16 age range. And same group of kids and they’re like, okay, how many of you think you’re creative? 20% raise their hand and 80% said that they weren’t. So, somewhere over the course of the 10 years or you know, 10 years plus that we’re in elementary school, in the middle school or high school or whatever, you know, the school levels are in the country that you grew up in, somewhere along the line, we get creativity kind of like beaten out of us, like I feel like, or discouraged or criticized or whatever, and we internalize that stuff and then we start to tell ourselves I’m not creative.
And then also, I think that there is a very, very narrow definition, especially in school and stuff like that, of what creativity is. Creativity is the arts, right. Like this is the myth is that creativity is the art. So, if you’re not a person who draws or paints or does music or write, you know, somehow if you’re not an artist then you’re not creative, right. And so, when people don’t identify themselves as artists, then they start to automatically think, well, I’m not creative, you know, and so like if there’s, you know, people who are – and I think that is starting to change like we were talking about last time where, you know, kind of younger generations of thankfully don’t seem to be as constrained by labels and don’t seem as quick to label themselves as older generations have.
So, like I feel like this kind of like gender fluid, you know, kind of queer label is or you know, identification is kind of a good example of that where they’re just like, yeah, whatever, like masculine and feminine, and men and women, and just yes to all the things and why do I have to choose, you know, like why do I have to just do one thing. I’m like, I’m all kinds of, I’m a whole spectrum of, you know, interest and desires and attractions and like why would I have to choose.
And I feel like kind of also that, you know, from a professional level, there’s kind of like the rise of the designer or coder or the code or designer or you know, people who are just like, yeah, I don’t, why can’t I be a technical person who’s also like visually creative or why can’t I be a person who’s creative within this context. And so, I’m really, really heartened to see that sort of things where people aren’t putting labels on themselves, but there still art people. And I’ve talked about this in my book where people will say, ‘’I’m not creative at all’’. And I always say to that first balderdash because; how many times do you get to say balderdash in a conversation, not many, you think.
Jason Ogle: I’m so glad you said that.
Denise Jacobs: So, you really have to like, you know, take the opportunity when it presents itself.
Jason Ogle: Yes, absolutely. Word of the day, Defenders. Word of the year.
Denise Jacobs: Balderdash! And so, you know, so today, to that or poppy cock, which I think is another good one. So, I say all of those wonderful words that basically mean; I don’t believe it. And then I would like to do is I like to challenge people and I like to say, okay, if you think you’re not creative, okay, when’s the last time that you did something that was so enjoyable that you like lost track of time? And they’ll be like, oh, so-and-so I was doing this and this. And I’m like, okay, and you know, why do you think that was? Or why do you think you enjoyed it so much? Well, I was figuring out how to make this business work together and do this. And I’d be like, okay, and how is that not being creative? And then that’s when people are like, well, I guess that I could be creative. It’s like, yeah, just because that’s what that is.
Jason Ogle: I love how you put that in, and you kind of triggered something in me about fear. I think people deep down inside know they’re creative. I just feel like we’re afraid, right.
Denise Jacobs: I think we are afraid because; it’s just been like so much pressure put on it. Like I remember when I was younger that there was a point where I’m a recovering perfectionist, I realize it’s still a deeply personality from a very young age. And I remember I really liked to say I still really liked to sing. I’m terrified to sing in front of people, but I loved singing. And I used to be like mortified when people would sing songs and they didn’t know the words or they didn’t remember the words. And I remember thinking to myself, well, why bother singing the song if you can’t sing it right? And I think that is probably a sentiment that a lot of people have with doing something creative or creative expression. Well, you know, I shouldn’t do it if I can’t do it right or I have this idea in my head and if I can’t realize the idea in my head, then why bother doing it? Do you know what I mean, I was like executed well, or if I can’t execute it perfectly or if it doesn’t meet the standards, this, you know, externally imposed standard than I should probably shouldn’t bother.
Jason Ogle: It’s like when you’re growing up and you’re singing a song and your older brother or sister or sibling says, you know, you’re singing it bad right, but you’re trying and you’re just, you don’t care. You’re off key or in other words, your older sibling is like, Hey, do you know who sings that song? And then you’re like, yeah, Pat Benatar, and then they’re like, well, yeah, let’s keep it that way, right. It’s high-flying. I think that’s kind of one of those first sort of blows into our bravery and being expressive and being creative, and it’s just kind of a series of things that happens over time, and you really do have to have thick skin for this stuff. You really do, right?
Denise Jacobs: It reminds me, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this video on Facebook, it’s one of my favorite videos. One of my favorite things that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s like these little girls, I think they’re like over and like eastern Europe, like in Russia or someplace, you know, Eastern Europe be like, you know, that part of the world. These little girls are like – I mean little girls like 3, 4, 5 olds and they’re in the dance class and they like got like little ballet tights and Tutus and like leotards and stuff like that, and they’re warming up and there’s like they’ve got the flight, you know, dance music on and they’re warming up and they’re like for the teachers like running them through all the exercises to warm up and there’s this one little girl who was like, I am feeling this music and she’s like so into it, and she’s dancing and then she’s like, she knows all the steps like ahead of time, so she’s doing them kind of before the teacher asks them, but just doing it like, just expression and exuberant.
And then you see somebody like saying to her like, no, no, no, do the thing. She’s like looks over, and she’s like, all right, and she tries to tone it down and then she’s like, Oh man, this song is one of those [inaudible 11:51]. You can imagine that there are kids like that, that are just like, oh my God, look at my jam, [inaudible 11:58] you know, just like this idea, or I’m going to draw this thing. And then there’s always somebody off to the side that’s like, no, calm down, tone it down.
Jason Ogle: The critics. You know, I love what Tim Ferris says, “There are no statues erected for critics.”
Denise Jacobs: No, there aren’t.
Jason Ogle: Yeah, it’s really interesting. We’re going to have that balance. So, you know, I was just saying we’ve got to have thick skin, but we also have to have soft hearts. I feel like that’s the kind of the tight rope walk for us as creative people because; we do have to have thick enough skin to not let what the critics say derail us and deflate us to where we just lose our bravery and just kind of just go into hiding because we need to. It’s a disservice, Defenders. It’s a disservice to humanity, if you don’t express your creativity.
Denise Jacobs: Amen, right! Great book, called “Die Empty,” and which I actually haven’t read, but I’ve read enough about it to know that I’m like completely onboard with the concept. Like you’ve come here with something inside of yourself, and your goal in life is to make sure that stuff that’s inside of you is no longer, like you’ve extinguished or like you have expended it all, expelled it all. Kind of like toothpaste tube, like you don’t want anything left in that toothpaste tube, you want to squeeze everything awesome that’s inside of you out and put it out into the world.
Jason Ogle: I love that. Once you squeeze the toothpaste out, you can’t put it back in the tube.
Denise Jacobs: You cannot put it back in the tube for one to love or money, you cannot do it. And so, here’s an interesting thing that I want to share that kind of, I think that kind of has to do with that and could also have to do with the inner critic as well. But I just had this realization yesterday and in kind of this kind of ongoing series of realizations over the last few weeks that when you don’t take care of yourself, when you don’t really respect yourself and do the things that you need to do to be able to show up powerfully in the world, then you’re doing everybody else around you a disservice, because; you can’t help them do the same, right?
Like when you hold yourself back, it’s like you hold everybody else back and your actions don’t just affect, you know, like your lack of self-confidence and your inability to believe in yourself and believe in what you’re capable of and to know that you’ve got something special to offer the world, means that anybody you’re working with, anybody that you’re around like that these people, that affects them as well, right. Like, so like for example, like I just realized that, you know, it was one of those, is a very simple thing, but I realized that in my business, if I don’t ask for the amount of money that I’m, that my work is worth, then that means I can’t pay the people who, you know, I can’t pay my contractors, I can’t pay the people that work with me.
I can’t move forward and I can’t launch ideas in the world that may help folks. I can’t have experienced, like I can’t show up fully to my life because I’m in a place of stress all the time about finances. I can’t do the thing. I can’t squeeze toothpaste out of my tube because I’m so busy just like trying to be trying to survive, right? But when you work, and you get to that place where you’re like, no, wait, what I do is valuable. People need tell you like, you know, I’m going to affect the world in a positive way. I’m going to value myself and I’m going to like changes everything. It changes what you’re able to, how you feel about yourself, and it changes what you’re able to do and it changes how many people you’re able to affect.
Jason Ogle: I’m so glad you said that, Denise. I love what Jeff Goins says. He wrote a book called “Real Artists Don’t Starve”, which a great read as well. He says, “Don’t make art to make money, make money to make more art.” And so I think that’s the idea there and I realized that have hosting this podcast and producing it and it’s a lot of work. Oh my goodness it is, and it costs money, every episode cost me several hundreds of dollars. I don’t think a lot of listeners realize that, but it cost me several hundred dollars to put episodes out and thankfully I’ve had wonderful sponsors come along and help make that happen, partner with me to help make that happen and I’m realizing that, you know, I do have to and we all do, all of us have to be confident in when we’re asking for more money to what we’re worth, the money that we’re worth, we need to be confident in asking for that because just like Denise just so well-articulated, it helps us produce more art for more to help more people. It’s a wonderful cycle.
Denise Jacobs: And there is money, and that’s the other thing that I think is also so kind of back to this inner critic kind of what I call kind of creativity denial and all this stuff, and these mythologies that we’ve internalized that turns into the inner critic is this whole thing about, you know, how well like artists starve and I’m just like, well actually let’s like take an actual de facto look at this. There are a lot of artists, when artists do well, they do really, really well. Beyoncé is an artist. She’s doing just fine. She’s doing okay, right? She is able to do this thing. So, I feel like this mythology about how like you’re not going to be able to do things. It’s like no. It’s just cracking the code with it. It’s just, you know, going and figuring out, because; there’s a lot of money available to support people in their creative endeavors. Like a lot. Like there are a lot of, you know, for example like there are a lot of companies, there are companies that are like, yeah, we’ll sponsor your podcast. We sponsor podcasts. We do that, like we have money literally set aside and waiting for somebody to come and ask us or for us to have the relationship to be able to do that. Like it’s literally sitting there and it’s waiting for it. Like they have budgets for sponsorship.
Jason Ogle: it’s marketing budget, that’s exactly what it is.
Denise Jacobs: Marketing budget. So, it’s not like it’s this impossible thing where you’re trying to, you know, like crack the “Davinci Code” or something like that. Like you could literally like it’s already a portion in there. It already exists.
Jason Ogle: In reality is it goes away. If it doesn’t get used, it goes away.
Denise Jacobs: Of course it goes, because; it doesn’t get used in that year and that budget just sat there lying fallow. You know, and it’s like when people were just like, yeah, you know, like people have training budgets, like so, they need people to come in and conduct trainings in their companies.
Jason Ogle: Precisely. Yeah, that reminds me, I need to ask about that. We need to do some training this year, and this year is almost over. So yeah, that’s great encouragement, Denise. Defenders listening, check in on that, with your superior. Check in on that about training budgets, you know, for sure. That’s great advice.
Denise Jacobs: Yeah! So I mean, it’s just one of those things where it’s like there are resources, I’m not saying that, you know, you just like, I mean and I’m also not even going to say that it’s hard to find the resources or it’s difficult to get them because, you know, like, I think I was – I don’t know if I talked about this, about my book deals, the both of my book deals were very serendipitous and fell into my lap and I had spent many years before hand thinking that it was going to be really hard to get a book deal and all this stuff. And part of it was because my father, who was a very accomplished person, but to my knowledge, never tried to write and publish a book. But my father, when I graduated from college, when I told him I was interested in being a writer potentially, he said, do you know how hard it is to get published?
Jason Ogle: That was the first thing he said?
Denise Jacobs: That’s the first thing he said. Not like, oh, that’s a worthy thing, Oh like who was your inspiration, like what do you want to do, and the things you want to write about, what do you want to do, do you know how much to get this published? You know what the appropriate response would have been, do you know how hard it is to get published? Because my dad did a lot of things, but we’re trying to publish a book, I don’t believe it was on that list; building three airplanes from scratch by hand. Yes! Flying airplanes, being the first person in his family to graduate from high school and college, check; doing a MIDI amid life career change from being an aeronautical engineer to be a doctor optometry, check; writing and publishing a book, not so much. So, that’s the other thing too. We get these kind of internalized inner criticisms because people in our lives who were authorities and whose opinions and values and ideas and advice we really trust and rely upon.
Jason Ogle: By the way, who are well-intentioned.
Denise Jacobs: Who are well intentioned. I don’t think he said that to me because he thought that I wasn’t a talented writer. I think he said that to me because he didn’t want to see me being disappointed by what other people did.
Jason Ogle: He was trying to protect you, kind of like what our inner critic tries to do.
Denise Jacobs: And that’s exactly what the inner critic tries to do. And this was what happened. So the inner critic models, how it sees how other people try to quote, protect us. Sometimes, people are not protecting us, sometimes they’re being mean like peers and stuff like that. But, you know, and then it goes, okay, I’ll set up the ramparts and I’ll, you know, get it all set up the same way and I’ll act the same way when I see potential threats. The inner critics, it’s just too good, it’s just too quick a study, it’s too good at modeling bad behavior and incorrect messages, right? So we really, you know, I definitely believe that it’s our duty, you know, and in order to be able to move forward into our lives more powerfully, it’s really beneficial for us to first of all recognize the inner critic and then to have tools at our at our, I want to say behest, but behest isn’t the word that I want, but available and accessible just a toolkit to be like, okay, I see what you’re doing, okay, this is what I have in response to that’’, you know. Okay, so you’re coming at me and you’re saying you’re not, you know, I’m not creative. Okay, this is what and how I’m going to counter that. Oh, you’re like, okay, you’re telling me that I shouldn’t do this because people are going to judge me. All right, this is what I have to say to that.
Jason Ogle: I like where this is going because; you give some really, first of all, I want to say the one thing about protecting, I feel like William Hung’s parents should have tried to protect him a little bit more.
Denise Jacobs: Who is William Hung?
Jason Ogle: He’s an American Idol reject, probably the most popular one.
Denise Jacobs: Oh, really. Bless his heart.
Jason Ogle: Bless his heart though. He’s really creative. He came from a civil engineering, so super smart guy, really creative in that area. But it’s just the singing thing may not have been for him. He was creative in other areas as all as I’m saying — So yeah, but I don’t know why I said that. I feel like that was maybe like a little bit mean. I’m sorry.
Denise Jacobs: Well, you know, you can do whatever you want with that one.
Jason Ogle: Well, I love with what you said about naming your inner critic and that’s, you know, that’s kind of where this conversation was heading, and it’s like calling it out when you hear it, when you hear that voice in your head that unwelcome voice, call it out and give it a name. And then, I love it because; it’s brain science, this is all brain science here and you go, you dive a lot deeper in the book about this stuff too. So, but I just love that advice, I think that’s really helpful. And I’ll be honest with you, Denise, after I read that I actually, I started doing practicing this and it actually really helping me a lot. Yes, it is totally helping me. Like I gave my name, mine’s name is “Skip”. So, many times Skip starts trying to talk to me and tell me things that I don’t want to hear and I don’t need to hear frankly. Then I will call him out and I say, I know you’re trying to get me Skip. I know you’re trying, I’m going to skip this, right? I’m going to skip this feedback because; it’s unhelpful. Denise, do you have a name for your inner critic?
Denise Jacobs: You know I don’t have a name for my inner critic. Years ago, before I started doing all this inner critic research and stuff like that, I was thinking about it as like your lizard brain. And so, I said that I have these kind of two, these entities inside of me that are trying to play it safe all the time and one of them name is Norma. And she’s a lizard. And she is like, let’s not try to do like, let’s just try to be normal. I’m normal and I’m just trying to be normal and not trying to like stand out or make any waves or do anything to like draw, you know, extra unwanted attention to myself and I’m just going to kind of play it small and normal and all this stuff.
And you know, it’s interesting because, and I think a lot of times when my inner critic pops up it will be like I was just tone it down, you know, like people are going to be overwhelmed but just, you know, because; it’s like people are going to be overwhelmed by, you know, I’m 6’1”, I don’t know if you notice, but I’m 6’1”, and so, I’m an incredibly tall woman and you know, even for a man that’s a tall height, but for a woman that’s particularly tall and I’m very, very aware of my kind of stature, and then I have short hair, and so, I’m aware of that. And there were times, there was a period of time in my life, I don’t know what was happening, but people were calling me sir a lot, because; they weren’t paying attention. They basically would see a tall black person with short hair and they’d be like. And not only would they do that, but then they would also act nervous around me, Like I was going to somehow be an aggressor because I am a tall brown person, right, indistinct gender.
It’s very interesting. That was happening a lot when I was heavier, and then I lost a lot of weight, and then there were times like I was like, I’m very clearly like, have a woman’s body like it not like indistinct at all. And a couple of times somebody like, again, most paying attention called me sir, I’ve come out of women’s bathrooms, have been in women’s bathrooms and had women walk in, stop, turn, look at the door, sign to make sure and then come in. So having just grown up being tall, taller than average and all this stuff, and then also being African-American and all of the things, I’ve learned that I have to disarm people, I have to figure out, I have to have a lot of ways, a lot of strategy that are a lot of more subconscious, that I disarm people so that they don’t feel threatened by me immediately.
Jason Ogle: I appreciate you sharing that, Denise. Thank you so much for your vulnerability. I want to know like how does that make you feel, like how did those events, you know, in scenarios that make you feel?
Denise Jacobs: Sometimes, it’s just tiring. It’s tiring to kind of always be, try to be aware of when I think people like it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to try to always be nice to feel like I can’t have a bad day, right. Like I can’t be in a bad mood because; that could be something that could be like detrimental for me. Do you know what I mean? Like there’s a whole thing about angry black women and all this stuff and it’s like if you’re too strong, if you’re too opinionated, if you’re too forceful, then it’s like all of a sudden, you know, if you’ve got a strong opinion about, all of a sudden you’re angry. I was like, no, I’m just actually stating an opinion. Oh, it’s like you’re just, you know, you’re still, and it didn’t mean anything by it and it didn’t end like wow, exhausting every moment of the day.
So sometimes it’s like, you know, I don’t think about it. It’s like there’s a lot of times where I’m a super friendly person. I’m like, I’m nice, I’m smiley, I chat with people all the time, I pet dogs and I like babies, and all of this stuff. And that’s just naturally who I am, I’m like a big kid, but it’s sad to feel like I kind of have to sometimes turn that up to 11 just so people won’t, like I say I don’t want people feel threatened by me, like I did. Super extra nice, sometimes you know, I don’t always want to be like extra super nice. Sometimes, I just want to like be in my, you know, but it’s like, oh, you know, it’s going to make sure. Oh, okay. Thank you so much. Have such a great day. Oh my God, I love your T-shirt. That is just the cutest child. And sometimes I’m just like, you know, so that’s definitely, that’s real.
And like for people who are just like, I don’t think that’s a real thing, it’s like that’s because you don’t have to do that all the time. That is a real and you can ask. First of all, you can ask any black woman about whether she has to turn herself down at work and she will say absolutely because if not then somebody’s going to say that I hurt their feelings and then it’s going to be my fault. And I was like, I don’t know if you’re familiar with a writer name “Luvvie Ajayi”. She has a spate, you should follow her. She’s great! She’s got a blog called “Awesomely Luvvie.” She talks about popular culture and all this stuff. She’s actually literally African-American.
She was born in Nigeria and moved here at the age, and so, she’s African and American and so she’s got a great perspective on everything. And she wrote a post about something about like the “Power of White Women’s Tears” or something like that. Kind of after the “Barbecue Becky” thing of a woman like, did you hear about this? This a woman police. She was like in Chicago or some city. She was at a park. She saw a black family barbecuing at one of the public barbecue things at the park, she called the police because she was uncomfortable.
Jason Ogle: Oh dear God.
Denise Jacobs: That there was this black family. They’re using the public barbecue thing. And then like somebody like look it up, she’s called Barbecue Becky. Look it up. Then they filmed her as she, you know, she called the police and they filmed her like being on the phone and stuff and then you know, the police came and she started crying and then everybody’s all like, oh, like so sorry, like you just called the police on an innocent group of people and you’re crying. So, Luvvie wrote this post. And Jason if I tell you that you’re going to read this and you’re going to get so angry.
Jason Ogle: I’m already angry.
Denise Jacobs: Story after story after story of women who were like, yeah, I made a complaint, you know, like this woman was always being hard on me at work and finally I just, you know, I stopped being nice to her. She got upset about it, went to HR, started crying, and then they asked me to change my behavior. Like story after story, after story, after story, and it is like, so disturbing. You’re just like, what, what, what? And then like for me, then I start looking back and I’m like, how many times have things like that happen where like, you know, like I complain to people are like, ‘’oh, that’s nice. But Piper said this happened and so it’s got to be true for what she said’’.
Jason Ogle: This is just, I don’t have any word, but I think it’s related. I think it’s related because this all stems from fear, all stems from the internal critic. And somebody who’s making these allegations is making these you know, prejudices are afraid. And it’s all stems from that in her voice in their head. That’s just, you know, for some reason they feel inadequate, they feel like they’re not good enough and so they have to make somebody else miserable. It’s always the person that’s doing the inflicting that is the one that’s hurt the most, so that is in the most pain.
Denise Jacobs: That hurting a lot.
Jason Ogle: That’s hurting others. Hurt people hurt people; I love that’s for what Shawn Stevens says, he says, “Hurt people hurt people.”
Denise Jacobs: And so true. And so, you know, one of the things, so just to kind of get back to the book, one of the reasons that I felt like this work and all of this was so important was because we have kind of these big wells of hurt that we carry around all the time that affect our behavior and that they affect our behaviors subconsciously. So we don’t even know that this stuff is happening, that’s in the background and yet it’s keeping us from, you know, sharing that idea in a meeting because we think that somebody’s going to criticize it. We’re afraid that someone’s going to criticize it and we don’t want to hear it and then we second guess ourselves and we don’t think it’s that good anyway. Or they keeps you from creating that design or creating that kind of more innovative solution to like getting through a use or workflow. Or you know, it keeps you from applying for that job that, you know, senior, you know, UX lead or whatever and just staying in the place that you are because it’s okay or just moving laterally instead of never moving forward, right.
We have all of this stuff. We have all of these beliefs. And the sad thing is that everybody’s got them, nobody talks about them, and nobody gives you tools to actually deal with them, right. Like tools that actually are based on something that is substantial and not just think positive thoughts and like, you know, say a bunch of affirmations, which by the way, affirmations actually do work but only in like in particular cases or particular reasons, if they’re structured in a certain way, which is actually based on research, and so, like nobody does this. And so for me, I felt like it’s important to be able so that people can do that, you know, squeeze that toothpaste out of the tube. So, people can be like start to realize their potential and that they can really get all the goodness out of them out into the world. We need this toolbox, we need this tool kit, we need these practices, and we need to know that it’s possible. Not that it’s possible on an aspirational level, but that it’s possible on a scientific level like that our brains naturally can do this stuff with a little bit of training.
Jason Ogle: That’s right, neural plasticity. Find about the book. I love the art. That’s a more of a recent discovery too. And that’s wild to me. And in the field of science and in medicine, it’s so surprising to me that that’s more of a recent finding that our brains actually have the capacity to change. And it all lends itself to that growth mindset. You know, and you talk about it in your book and Defenders pickup “Banishing Your Inner Critic”, I’ll have a link in the show notes. Don’t wait, it’s an awesome investment. It is an incredible. And I’m not just saying that because Denise is on the other line. I am loving the book. I’m almost done with it. It’s incredible. Yeah, it’s amazing.
So, but I also want to mention Daniel Amen Work, Dr. Daniel Amen. He wrote a book called “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.” And he’s a one of the first neurologist that actually has taken pictures of brain scans of people who were kind of having signs of Alzheimer’s and things like that. And he kind of puts certain folks who were kind of in that risk factor area. He puts him on a certain kind of regiment, and then he kept taking pictures of their brain and he saw with his own eyes, he saw that you know, the brains were growing and changing and actually getting healthier. And so, that’s like a cornerstone. I think that’s a keystone of the theme here is that, you know, Defenders listening, if you are in this place where you just feel like you’re just at the bottom of the barrel with, you know, how you feel about yourself and your creativity and your contributions, like just take heart, like you can change, you can change your brain. And if you really, really desire to, so just take heart in that, be encouraged.
Denise Jacobs: Yeah! So, you said you have questions for me. You had questions from listeners and stuff.
Jason Ogle: Yes, and I am so glad you said it this perfect segue because this is a good question that kind of veers into where our conversation has been going in. And this person’s name is John Drenkhahn, and he wants to know, he says:
Listener Question: Hi Jason. This is John. My question is: How do you honestly judge or critique your work if you’re fighting against low self-esteem?
Jason Ogle: It’s an interesting question.
Denise Jacobs: That is actually a really good question. I think the first kind of thing that came to me is to fall in love with the process and worry about the product later, if that makes any sense.
Jason Ogle: Yeah, elaborate. It does make sense to me. You know elaborate if you could elaborate on that. I think I have my own kind of idea of what you mean by that, but I’d love it if you could elaborate on that.
Denise Jacobs: So, a lot of times when you’re so worried about what you’re making or what the outcome is going to be that you don’t focus on how enjoyable the process of making said thing is. And so if you put your energy and your focus on really enjoying the process, really enjoying the finding all of the parts and putting things together and basically kind of like the problem solving part of the process, then I feel like, it changes how you view what you made because what you end up making ends up being something that you’re really proud – you’re like, this solve the problem. Is it perfect? No. You know, is it like the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. You know, does it matter, like I solved the problem or, you know, like my objective for solving what my goal was, I did that. And then I feel like that kind of transforms or affects, you know, helps you to see what you made differently.
If you’re just kind of rushing through the process and you’re trying to get to this like kind of perfect in point, and then of course you’re going to be judging it based on not, I don’t think what you, how you necessarily judge it, but how your inner critic judges it, right. Like that how you feel other people from the outside would look at it and put their own kind of opinions on it. But I feel like when you’re really in love with the process and what the actual you actually go through in making whatever it is, then I feel like it changes how you feel about what you’ve made.
Jason Ogle: I really liked that a lot, Denise, and it kind of made me think of, I talk about this fellow a lot particularly because he created the discovery “MRI System” for GE and it was meant for kids because he did a lot of research. He was a designer. He is a designer, and he designed this thing. His name is Doug Dietz. And I talk about Doug a little more and Joe Johnston’s episode. I think its Episode 46. We talk a lot more about this, but just to touch on the process. And kind of what I’m feeling on your response there, which I love is, I bet you, he fell more in love with just the process of getting to know, of watching his kids literally suffer in these adults MRIs and I’ve been in MRIs and I had to hit the panic button. It’s terrifying. Oh yeah! I know we have like 5 minutes left, I just can’t do this anymore. And I hit the panic button. It’s terrifying. It’s small, if you’re claustrophobic even a little bit, it’s just terrifying. And then you’re like in this cave and you’re only about 4 feet in, but it feels like you’re like, you know, 30 feet in, you know, do this thing, and you hear these loud noises around your head and it just droning and it’s, it’s awful. It’s an awful experience.
So this designer named Doug Dietz, he was watching these kids, many of them terminally ill with cancer and things. He was watching them like they’re already suffering, and he’s watching them do these tests and they have to do the time, and he’s watching them just terrified of getting into and understandably so getting into this thing. So, this is an assumption granted, but I have a feeling that he fell more in love with just the process of researching of just getting to know these kids and what they were experiencing then when he even knew that he was going to create. Would you, does that make sense?
Denise Jacobs: I definitely think so. I mean, like I was thinking of it from the perspective of when I was writing actually “Banish Your Inner Critic,” and I had a bit of writer’s block or what certainly felt like writer’s block and I hired a writing coach. And one of her recommendations for me was to, in order to kind of like just relax myself and relax my brain before I started writing was to do something with my hands, and she was like, you know, what’s something kind of creative that you could do with your hands that you are interested in doing. And I was like, I want to make earrings so badly, I don’t even know what to do with myself. And she was like, all right, make earrings.
And so I would make earrings without a goal. Like, I mean I knew I was going to make a pair of earrings but I didn’t sit down and design them ahead of time. I didn’t plan which beads I was going to use or anything. Like the only time sometimes I would be like, actually, sometimes I wouldn’t even plan colors. Like I would just start pulling out beads and whichever ones that I thought kind of spoke to me or something was where I would start, and then I would just keep adding to it, and I would just keep doing it. And so, the process itself of making the earrings was more important to me than the earrings that I ended up making. Do you know what I’m saying?
Jason Ogle: Yeah!
Denise Jacobs: And I fell in love with the actual process of choosing the beads, which ones I was going to use, and then figuring out how I was going to attach the different parts of it, and like just discovering how it was going to work out or like having it reveal itself to me, because it’s almost like it was already existed then it was just like, okay, you’re ready to hear what I have to say. Here’s what I – this is what I want to be, and I was like, great. And I didn’t know what I was going to do until I did it. And then I knew the next thing. I knew the next thing. And then I would get an idea and I’d be like, oh, what if I try this? And that process became so enjoyable that like at the end, I loved the earrings themselves, but it was because the process was to get to there was so enjoyable.
Jason Ogle: Absolutely, that makes so much sense. I put a sink and a toilet in, and I’ve never done that before. I’ve put a toilet in, but I’ve never put a sink in with an actual like countertop and like a working faucet and connect to the waterline and got. I’ve never done any of that. And so, but you know, using my growth mindset, there it is again Defenders, using that growth mindset, I said, I know I can do this. I know I can do this. And I watched some videos on YouTube, I looked at the instructions that it came with and I was like, you know, I’m going to do this, and I did it. And every time I washed my hands in that sink, I just feel a sense of pride, I feel a sense of accomplishment, right.
So it’s like even if, you know, of course, I would’ve been really upset if it didn’t work, but I’ll be honest with you, I still would have been proud that I got everything else done up to that point that I got, you know, the sink or the countertop, you know, adhered to the cabinet and that I got the waterlines connect to act. I always feel really proud of that. I followed, I went through this process and I learned more. I used that neuroplasticity that our brains are designed with and I was able to kind of make new neural pathways. And I think that is the whole point that you’re – to me, like what you’re saying Denise is enjoy the journey far more than the destination. A huge cliché, but I think one of the most important ones that we overlooked so often in our busy lives and distract lives.
Denise Jacobs: I think so. And then I, you know, I was going to say too, as I was talking, I remembered something else which I may have forgotten since I remembered it, but in terms of being worried about kind of what other people think and I’m kind of being a creative, being judged. I think I was going to say something kind of in relationship to that because I think that’s the other thing. Like when your self-esteem is low, it’s again, it’s like you’re seeing yourself and you’re seeing what you’re doing from the outside of what other people – what you kind of believe other people would be thinking. I mean, I know that’s true for myself when I’m really, really feeling like self-critical and stuff like that.
It’s because; I’m using a yard stick that’s not the yardstick of me and where I’m at right now, but I’m using it based on, well, you know, other people who are my age don’t have this problem. Or, you know, other people who are, you know, other people who have gone to, you know, who are educated and college educated, don’t have this problem. Or you know what I mean, I’m comparing myself to some kind of faceless group of people were, you know, frankly, there’s probably plenty of people my age who are going through this, you know, experiencing what I’m experiencing and seeing. And there’s probably plenty of people who are educated, you know what I mean? So, I think another thing too about being, because I don’t want – What was his name again for the question? What was his name?
Jason Ogle: Oh yeah. John Drenkhahn.
Denise Jacobs: I don’t want John to be like, they didn’t answer my question. So the question was how do you not be critical of your work when your self-esteem is low?
Jason Ogle: How do you honestly judge your work?
Denise Jacobs: How do you honestly judge your work? That’s exactly. Thank gosh. Thank you for saying judge. So, the other thing that I wanted to say in addition to that is that there are, I like to think that there are two different kinds of ways that you can be critical or you can kind of exercise judgment about your own work. And I think a lot of people confuse these two things and call them the inner critic, but I actually believe there’s kind of two different entities. One of them is the inner critic who is the one who’s always “mouthing off” and saying things without actually substantiating them. Like I don’t know why you think that when you think you’re going to do or someone is going to laugh at that La, la, la, la, la.
And then there’s an entity that I believe we all have to, especially people who are creative or are people who do design or you know, any kind of, you know, that kind of more visual experience problem solving, which is what I call the “Inner Evaluator”. So, but the inner evaluator and the inner critic are different people. So, the inner critic is always going to be criticizing stuff, is always going to find fault. No matter what, no matter how good anything is, they’re going to find fault because it’s trying to protect you. The inner evaluator, is that part of you that is knowledgeable, is seasoned, is skilled, is basically basing their opinions upon what they know, what you know to be good, right, and what you know to be like quality and what you know to be like excellent, right.
And so, when your inner evaluator looks at something and the thing is also with your inner evaluator is dispassionate. Your inner evaluator is not trying to like, you know, kind of poke at your character or say that you’re unworthy or you’re worthless or you’re not a good person because this design isn’t up to snuff. All your inner evaluator is saying is why don’t you work on this part? This part needs to be tweaked a little bit? Like a mentor or a teacher who knows that you’re capable, who knows that you do great work and is just trying to help you get to that place to like really express it. That’s your inner evaluator is that person.
So, I feel like we can do something where we actually call upon our evaluator when it’s time to assess things. So, when you’ve gone through the process, you’ve gone through the process of making something, you fallen in love with the process, right? You’ve fallen in love with the problem solving and you’re really enjoying that part of the process, when it’s at the point where it’s complete or you’re feeling complete or you’ve gone as far as you can, that’s when you can ask your inner evaluator to come out and say, what do you think? The inner evaluator is not trying to make you feel bad about anything. The inner evaluators looking at something with objective eyes and saying, oh, I think you could use this or you know, I feel like the colors need to be more vibrant, maybe it needs to be more contrast or buh-bah. It doesn’t mean you’re bad. It doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means that you could help it in this way.
Jason Ogle: That’s so good. I’m so glad that you piggybacked to your answer around that. And I think that to me, it just kind of comes to personal taste also because we all have – I think every creative person has, you know, it has good taste. I think they do, it just takes a while to develop it. And there’s a quote by “Ira Glass” that it’s so good. And part of me is hesitant to read it because; it’s like probably about 300 words, but I almost wanted to read it just for the sake of, is that okay Denise?
Denise Jacobs: Do your thing.
Jason Ogle: Okay. All right. I’m just going to read this and I’m probably going to share this. I’m going to do a monologue episode on Imposter Syndrome and inner critic also just to even kind of partner with this episode. I put that out there and a lot of the Defenders like, yeah, do it, do it, you know, so I think I’m probably going to read this again, but I feel like I want to do it here too. But this is so good, Ira Glass, he says, nobody and Ira Glass by the way is the host of this American life, which is probably like for 15 years has been like the top podcast in iTunes. He says, “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish somebody told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste, but there is this gap. For the first couple of years, you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game is still killer, and your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.
Most people I know who do interesting creative work went through years of this, and we know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we wanted to have, we all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you’re still in this phase, you got to know is normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took it and I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s going to take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just got to fight your way through”. That’s so good. Isn’t it?
Denise Jacobs: It’s so good, and it’s so true, and I feel like, yeah, your inner evaluator is that part of you that has that taste, right. And it’s just closing the gap between what that tastes that you have, your aesthetic, what you know, what you aspire to, and what you’re able to do, and also to keep getting inspired, to keep adding to that, to keep refining, and expanding, and kind of growing your aesthetic, right. And not only because I like – I love it when I discover things that I’m like, ‘’I love that design. I’ve never seen that before’’ or whatever, but like I love it when I have that immediate kind of almost visceral response with like, oh, that’s so good. You know, I love it when I have that because I feel like, it’s like I’m discovering more about myself.
Like do you know what I mean? Like as if I am a person that I’m getting to know, and it’s like I just found another piece about myself that I didn’t realize was there, like a kind of knew it was there, but then it’s like, there it is kind of made manifest and it’s like, oh when you hear a song that you never heard before and you’re like, ‘’oh, this is so good’’. Or even if you hear a song that you used to hear all the time and all of a sudden you’re like, wait a minute, this song is really good. Or I never mind just before, and now I really love it. You know, just I love it when you have that because again, it’s kind of going back to that taste, that part of you, that kind of aesthetic, that thing. And then that can inform your work, that can inspire, and feed, and inform your work, and inform your creative expression, and inform your art everything.
Jason Ogle: I love that Denise, and it makes me think too, and a lot of the listeners are UX Designers. They are working on, you know, helping their users accomplish goals, and a lot of them are aspiring. And I think that one of the coolest things that I’ve learned in this field and I still have a lot to learn, a ton, but I think one of the coolest things I’ve learned so far, and a lot of it has been talking to wonderful superheroes like you, Denise, about design, the whole design process, you just get it out there. I mean in the old days, like, I mean I’d been working on the web since 95, 96, the infancy of it, and then my first foot in the door was at a really big ad agency and the way we did things, it was the whole waterfall versus agile. All we did was waterfall in those days.
And I remember the contracts would come in, it’s like, okay, yeah, this is going to be a $100,000 or $200,000 for this website and we’ll see you in about a year when we’re done. And then like a year later, we would launch it, and then the client be like, what the hell is this? I mean, you know, pardon me, but that’s what they would be like, what am I looking at here. Because, you know, things are iterate and evolve for better or worse, and a lot of it’s behind the curtain, right, and the client’s like, what is this? What is this thing? And so I just feel like the whole lesson of iterating. And we iterate in our work when we’re working for clients, you know, and that’s the way we do it now is we don’t just wait a year to like show the, you know, the unveiling of this thing. We work with the clients, we work with them through the process iterate prototype test, you know, and we make it better as we go, and we know there’s a transparency factor.
I feel like the takeaway here for me is we need to iterate upon our lives a lot more. We need to iterate upon our creativity, right? And the way to do that is to like put it the stuff out there. And the only way to do is to create and get it out there “Die Empty,” like we were talking about earlier. So, that to me was kind of a big takeaway from what you just shared, Denise.
Denise Jacobs: No, I mean it is, and it’s, you know, and the way that you do that is by being really aware of your inner critic and those times when you’re holding yourself back, when you’re judging your ideas and you’re killing them before they even see the light of day, when you do something, but you’re so self-critical while you’re doing it that you basically hold yourself back and you know, it kind of like, I say this in one of my keynotes and I used the imagery of, you know, like a seedling or you know, just as a seedling sprouting from a pot or from the dirt and saying we all have this amazing potential. And if you can imagine that the seedling is going to become a tree, what kind of tree is it going to become? Is it going to be this like full-fledged, you know, completely magnificent like grand tree, or are you going to have your inner critic snipping away at buds that might grow and branches and everything so it looks more like a bonsai. And that’s what the inner critic does, it takes away, it snips away kind of our true potential in the fullness of your expression. And I wrote this book so that people could have tools to really get to that full expression, to really remove the blocks, and to remove the barriers, so that they could just let, you know, so they could just grow and you know, leaf out and blossom, and really trust themselves, and trust what they have inside of themselves, and trust what they’re able to do.
Jason Ogle: Denise, you suggested mindfulness techniques to help silence the inner critic’s voice. Can you go into some like maybe mindfulness techniques that you’ve personally found helpful?
Denise Jacobs: Yes, actually. So, I feel like the biggest mindful and kind of biggest and easiest mindful mindfulness technique is, is the practice of realizing that your thoughts are not you. They are your thoughts and not only that, but your thoughts are not only are they not you, but just because you’re thinking your thoughts doesn’t mean that they’re true, which really changes things, right, because especially when we’re in kind of a tizzy about things, it’s really easy to say I’m angry, instead of saying, ‘’I’m feeling angry’’ or you say, ‘’I’m anxious’’, instead of, ‘’I’m feeling anxious’’, which just that little change and saying, ‘’I’m feeling this way’’, gives you a little extra distance. It’s not who you are, it’s just what you’re feeling in the moment. And the nice things about emotions is that emotions are temporary. The part of the word that makes emotions is motion, right. They don’t stay, they move.
And so, when you realize, when you have these moments where you can actually say where you can have that start to have the distance between saying, this is not who I am, it is merely what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling now. It is not what I’m thinking and going feeling forever, it’s what’s happening in the moment. And then excuse me that you can also look at that and you can win as soon as you say, ‘’Oh, I’m thinking this’’, then that also gives you extra distance. Every time I do something like that, I feel like it takes me kind of a level higher than my head, so that I’m almost looking down on myself or that I’m almost looking down in my head and seeing the thoughts moving instead of being caught up inside of the thoughts.
And so, when the inner critic pops up, I feel like when you go, oh, my inner critic is here again, then you’re not attached to it, and you’re not identifying with it, you’re identifying it as its own separate thing that you can detach yourself from or you can separate yourself or distance yourself from, and then it makes it easier to make other choices in terms of thoughts.
Jason Ogle: I love that so much, Denise. I think the psychological term for that is cognitive dissonance, if I’m not mistaken.
Denise Jacobs: I think that cognitive dissonance, I always understood that to be when you’re kind of having trouble reconciling two different thoughts or two different perspectives, right? Like you’re just like, I thought it was going to be this way, but now it’s this way and I’m kind of experiencing cognitive dissonance. And believe this practices is called self-distancing or it’s part of kind of cognitive behavioral therapy where you distance yourself from your thoughts or you distance yourself from, like you’re not identifying with your thoughts, and so, then you’re kind of like taking a step away.
But yes. It’s definitely, you know, having that distance and having the perspective and not being wrapped up in the tumult can be emotional and mental tumult. But you know, it’s definitely, it’s a practice. It’s not something that you just go, oh look, I’m feeling angry, look at you anger. I’m feeling scared. Oh my God. It should be scared. Like I’m just going to like think, I mean, when you’re in it, you’re in it, but I’m sure that you’ve always. I mean, I think, I know I’ve done this quite a few times when you’re crying, you know, when you’re really upset about something and you’re like, you’re upset, you’re angry or you’re crying or something and there’s this part of you that’s going, oh look, I’m really having strong feelings about this. And then like, oh, I just want to cry. I just want to cry about this. And it’s like, ‘’okay, you could do that?’’. I mean, you could do something else too.
Jason Ogle: Yeah, I like that a lot. It’s the whole limiting belief I think too, it’s like when a lot of times we kind of do something, will mess up, right. Like you know, not my kids, I used my kids a lot as an example, a because; they’ll be doing something and maybe just not so well or maybe even cook an egg or something like, ‘’oh I’m bad at this’’. Like I’m terrible at making eggs, and I always correct them, and I correct that framing because that’s a limiting belief. It’s really, it’s just that you’re not terrible at it, you just are learning how to do it better. It’s Kind of that limiting, and you know, “Jim Kwik” says, you know, our brains are always eavesdropping on our self-talk, are always. So, when we tell ourselves something, and sadly again kind of going back to negative influences that they can, you know, like primary negative and even secondary negative connections can have on us, they can start to kind of convince us that we really aren’t good at something, that we might actually be good at it. We haven’t given ourselves enough time, enough time to learn and enough time to practice.
So, I think it’s just kind of that practice think, like you just said, Denise, like we just need to keep practicing something, if we’re really passionate about something. Don’t just, you know, you don’t hang up your hat after trying at one time, you know, give yourself some time as Ira Glass says to establish your taste in that thing and to see if your practices is making you better at it.
Denise Jacobs: Exactly! And so, it’s definitely, you know, it’s definitely like you may have a time where you were really upset and you don’t, you know, the goal is just to recognize that you’re thinking thoughts, right? That your thoughts affect how you feel, and if you change how you think, then you can change how you feel. And to, you know, to have to just start to practicing that the habit or start to instill the habit of when you’re feeling of this feeling that you don’t want to feel to like look at your thoughts and say, ‘’okay, I’m thinking that thought’’. Even just even just going, I’m thinking this thought can be something where you go, oh, why am I thinking that thought?
Jason Ogle: That’s not me, it just my brain thinking.
Denise Jacobs: It just my brain doing that.
Jason Ogle: I love that distinct distinction. That is so important. That is such a great takeaway Defenders. Your thoughts are not you. So good. So Denise, I have one more for you and I am so appreciative of your time and how gracious you been with that. I feel like I want to wrap this entire conversation up with asking you, I mean, because you’ve given us so much already, but do you have anything? Do you have something you want to leave our Defenders? Like your best advice to those especially who are struggling just significantly with “Imposter Syndrome”, aka “The Inner Critic,” anything that would help them, this kind of silence that voice, and that voice is telling them that they and their work or just not good enough and never will be.
Denise Jacobs: Yes. So, two things that I want to say, so the first thing is to say that; when you’re in the midst of imposter syndrome and you’re thinking that somebody’s going to find out that you don’t know what you’re talking about or that you’re going to figure out that you’re a fraud at any moment. One of the things that I like to institute is something that I called the “Imposter Syndrome Paradox”. And the imposter syndrome paradox is that you only have imposter syndrome when you’re actually really good at something and really skilled. So, people aren’t really skilled at something, don’t typically worry about, you know, that they’re going to be found out as a fraud and somebody’s going to discover like that they just got lucky or any of that stuff, like it’s only when you really are actually skilled and competent that you can experience imposter syndrome. So, when I’m having moments where I personally, when I’m experiencing posture imposter syndrome, I think, oh, the imposter syndrome paradox. I wouldn’t feel like this if I wasn’t awesome.
Jason Ogle: I love that. That’s so good.
Denise Jacobs: And then it usually actually brightened, makes me feel better. Like, oh, it’s only because I feel great. Okay, that’s awesome. So, that’s the first thing. And then the second thing is that I think it’s kind of along the lines of what we were saying before the Ira Glass thing, and the and also the growth mindset approach and everything that just the more you do stuff, the more you practice your craft, the more you kind of creative problem solving you do, etc, the better you get at it, and the more it feels like second nature, and the more it just feels like something that you do instead of something that you’re working at or you’re aspiring to do.
And I feel like There becomes a kind of, almost an inflection point or a tipping point where you get to the point where you do it so much that then you know that that’s what you do well, right. And just becomes where you’re just like, of course I can do this because this is what I do, this is what I do right? I mean, it’s like you just, you get to the point where you stop questioning, because you trust yourself and you know yourself and that comes from just doing it over and over and over and over again.
So I say, take the time to show up, you know, make it regular somehow and take the time to show up for yourself in that way, to fall in love with the process of troubleshooting, of problem solving and learning how to figure out, you know, and discovered these different problems and find different solutions for them. Fall in love with that and you’ll be so in love with that process that you’ll just be, you will be practicing all the time until it gets to the point where you’re just like, ‘’oh, this is just what I do’’.
Jason Ogle: Yes, I love that, Denise. You said, there’s times when I do this and I’m practicing as well. There’s times when I do this and when I get just a really wonderful deep answer like what you just gave to some of that where I can’t help but just to kind of like, just take a deep breath and just kind of, you know, just breathe it in. And so, that’s kind of what I just did right there. And I’m just blown away by this conversation, by this deep dive. There’s so much, so much, and I know this is going to be referenced material for years and years to come. Again, but the crazy thing is listeners, Defenders, this is just a couple hours of conversation, you know, Denise has written an entire book, you know the [inaudible 1:15:57] dives even deeper into what we’ve already talked about and even other areas that we haven’t even touched on. So, I just want to encourage you to get the book. There’ll be a link in the show notes, check it out, get it. You will not regret it. It will make you even better and more of who you are.
And I just want to close with this and this is something I learned from your book, Denise and kind of going back to the reason that we don’t do as much as we could and as much as we can accomplish in this life and in this world is we’re afraid. And there’s many things, there’s a book is “Who Moved My Cheese” where he says, well, would you do if you weren’t afraid? And there’s that quote by Mark Twain that I love so much that just says we’ll be 20 years from now, we’re going to regret things that we didn’t do versus the things we did do. We’re going to regret that way more. And so, all of this kind of brings me to this thing that I learned from you, which is about fear, the acronym of fear, and many of us know the acronym of fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real.” You know, and I love what you said, you just like you’re kicked fear in the groin, in the private. So you said, let’s turn “False Evidence Appearing Real” into “Face Everything And Rise! Yes! That’d be our battle cry Defenders right there. How do Defenders get connect and keep up with you?
Denise Jacobs: Okay, so, my website is ‘’denisejacobs.com’’. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on twitter ‘’denisejacobs’’. My Facebook fan page is denisejacobs.com like spelled out. With the dots spelled out, and I’m ‘’DeniseJacobs’’ on Instagram. So, please follow me on those things. And also if you want to link with me on LinkedIn, I think I’m ‘’Denise R Jacobs’’ on LinkedIn, you can find me. I’m the one who calls herself a creativity evangelist.
Jason Ogle: I love it, and you are my friend. And Defenders, I’ll be sure to put all those links in the show notes. Be sure to check that out. Denise, you are a superhero. The work that you are have already done, not to mention the work you’re going to do and that you’re in fact right after this, you’re hopping on a plane to Brazil to do more of this great work. You’re making ripples, and those ripples are going to last far beyond your lifetime. I just want you to know that and I mean that. Thank you for what you’re doing and please, please fight on my friend.
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