What Everybody Says

If we want to do original work, two words to avoid:

Everybody says…

It seems self-evident. But let’s take the cellophane off and hold this up to the light.

If we’re doing original work, it will be original to us, too. We’ve shed our comfortable skin and stepped onto an edgy, unlit path; it’s unsettling. Which is what original work demands. And why so few people do it - it feels dangerous.

The protective instinct on an edgy, unlit path is to grab for things that settle us. So we ask for guidance. It’s not a bad inclination. Only it often yields “Everybody says…” advice.

Everybody says you should have a social media presence/say YES to everything/go to lots of networking events/get X, Y, Z degree to be taken seriously. And since we’re in the pea soup-thick fog of the unknown, the razor-sharp definitiveness of what “everybody says” is seductive.

But if everybody says it, then everybody (or many) are doing it. Which isn’t a recipe for original work. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, who says this “everybody” shares our intentions and values?

Instead, we are challenged to find the anchors that enable us to stand in our truth and walk in our truth down the edgy, unlit path. You may need to get 10 hours of sleep and jog daily, meditate or pray or dance, have regular dinners or calls with fellow original work makers, journal and listen to Otis Redding before bed. Whatever the form, these anchors give us some stability in instability, the ability to be comfortable with discomfort.

The world has enough unoriginal work. We each have original work in us, work the world hasn’t seen and needs to see. We make it in a number of ways. None of which are adhering to what, “Everybody says…”

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