Feeling Nervous About Your Work? Good!

by | Process

A few days ago, I put the final touches on my new book manuscript. At this point, it’s completely locked and in production. My editor asked me how I was feeling, and my response was “relieved, but nervous”.

Nervous? Really? I’ve done this twice already, and I’ve probably put more thought and effort into this book than any of them. Still, the nerves are there.

I used to think that being nervous about launching something new was a sign of weakness or a lack of confidence in one’s ability. Now, I realize that it’s actually a big part of doing things you deem worthwhile.

Nerves are a sign that you care about your work.

If you never get nervous about what you’re putting out into the world, it could mean that you don’t think your work is important enough to fret over. If you value the work you do, then you should on occasion feel a little nervous about whether or not it will hit the mark and create the value you intended.

Nerves are a sign that you know you can still improve.

Also, if you never get nervous, it means that you believe yourself to be at the very top of your game and there is no room for improvement. One of the reasons I get nervous when I launch something is that I know there is always – ALWAYS – something more I could have done to tweak it and make it better, but perfect is the enemy of great. I am nervous about whether I made the right decisions. I’m nervous about whether I spent my limited resources (focus, assets, time, energy) in the right place.

Nerves are a sign that you respect your audience.

If you respect the people you are serving, you will feel a little nervous about whether your work will truly hit the mark for them. I greatly respect the people I have the honor of creating for and working with, and I want to ensure that I deliver something that’s worthy of them. I spent a lot of time with this new book considering my intended audience and trying to make something that would both challenge and inspire them to a new level of brilliance.

It’s possible to be confident and nervous at the same time.

  • Confident nervousness is healthy, but insecure nervousness is destructive.
  • Confident nervousness keeps you sharp and leaning forward, while insecure nervousness keeps you fuzzy and leaning backward.
  • Confident nervousness compels you to new heights, but insecure nervousness is protective and craves safety.

Stretching always requires that you risk failure, which means you will probably feel a little over your head from time to time. Don’t mistake a little nervousness for weakness. Use it as fuel.

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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