I’m a new but highly enthusiastic fan of Austin Kleon, a self-described “writer who draws.” He also happens to be a New York Times bestselling author of a trilogy of illustrated books about creativity in the digital age: Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work!, and Keep Going. And when he’s not doing that, he speaks for organizations such as Pixar, Google, SXSW, TEDx, and The Economist.
You know, NBD.
I adore this bit of his advice:*
“If you want to be the noun, you have to do the verb.”
For example, if you want to be a writer, you have to write.
Which sounds easy enough, right?
But oftentimes, the professional noun we want most eludes us. We procrastinate, allow fear to creep in, and keep putting off doing the verb that will get us to the noun.
We get stuck in an anxiety spiral, worried that we need to be perfect or have it all figured out before proceeding. (Spoiler alert: nobody does and we’re all doing our best.)
I can tell you from experience that consistently verbing will get you to the noun — and help you be a better noun.
And the antidote to combat career anxiety, doubt, and fear requires a specific verb: taking action.
Here’s how to get — and keep — moving:
Turn those “What if?” questions from negative to positive.
When we focus on the negative what-ifs (“What if I fail?” and “What if I embarrass myself?”), we remain in a vicious cycle of inertia and perceived inadequacy. But when we shift our mindset and turn those what-ifs into positive questions (“What if I succeed?” and “What if I inspire someone?”), we envision the possibilities and more easily welcome new outcomes.
To grow, you need courage; courage requires taking action.
Sad but true: There is no growth in the status quo. If you’d like to progress in your career, sooner or later, you need to break out of your comfort zone. Challenging yourself to leave your cocoon helps you stretch your wings and gain new skills, experience, and confidence.
Action begets more action—and success.
When you use awareness to make action an intentional habit, you train yourself to continue to take action. Over time, those small changes in behavior creatively shake things up and breathe new life into old methods and routines. And combined with focused action, that newfound clarity will bring you something even better: success.
And speaking of taking action, a meaningful career (noun) doesn’t happen to you; you proactively create it through your intentional choices and actions (verb).
In my latest Forbes article, I share seven of the best ways to do that.
P.P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or fangirling (hey, it’s a verb!) over Austin Kleon, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders, entrepreneurs, and CXOs craft their stories to communicate and connect better by magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
P.P.P.S. One more thing: You have great taste in newsletters—thanks for subscribing! Be sure to check out the archives to catch up on previous issues, and feel free to share this one with your friends. Or better yet, invite them to join our Illuminate Me tribe!
*Austin said something else equally as wonderful: “If you want to be interesting, you have to be interested.” Isn’t that great? (Said another way, if you want to be the adjective, do the verb.) For me, it means being connecting to the material I write and genuinely curious about the people with whom I interact and the world around me, which, fortunately, isn’t a problem! What does it mean for you?