Embrace The Anti-Chicken

dog pulling on leash

dog pulling on leash

This is about not having to conquer your fears to get stuff done – which is a great relief for people like me.

It’s scary sending off pitches for work. It’s scary contacting people you admire. It’s gonad-freezingly terrifying hitting “Send” on an e-mail that’s going to thousands of people.

After a while, it leaves you…changed.

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The face of a man who clicked Publish too much.

You can’t get good at pitching by becoming brave. Bravery doesn’t work like that. If your pitches are good enough, sending them off is always going to be hell. As you improve, your pitches get better, but the hell remains the same. That’s how you know you’re improving: you’re still suffering as much as you ever did.

(GREAT JOB. KEEP IT UP.)

For me, hitting Send isn’t about confidence. It’s not An Amazing Feeling Of Purpose And Proactive Dynamism. It’s not like that. I’m still shrieking, every time. But I know it still has to get done.

So learned to be anti-chicken.

Here’s how I make an anti-chicken decision:

BRAIN: “So, you need to send this idea off.”

HEART: “I can’t. I care too much about it. What if it gets turned down? What if it’s unspeakably hilariously bad? What if it gets shared around, and then turned it into a meme? What if Jimmy Fallon…”

BRAIN: “Woah. Jeez. Enough.”

HEART: “I’m not brave I’m soft and squishy I still get watery-eyed at that episode of Futurama with the dog pleeeeease just let me die unrecognised and alone.”

BRAIN: “Ahuh. It’s like that, is it?”

HEART: “I FEEL TOO MUCH MAKE IT STOP FEELING TOO MUCH I CANNOT STOP FEELING ALL THE THINGS”

BRAIN: “It’s okay. You don’t have to be brave with this.”

HEART: “I…don’t?”

BRAIN: “No. This isn’t about mastering your fears.”

HEART: “Yay!”

BRAIN: “You just have to get mad at them and rebelliously do the opposite of what they’re saying.”

HEART: “Oh. Okay! That sounds much simpler.”

BRAIN: “Correct.”

HEART: “So, it’s like a massive Eff You to all my bad feelings? Like in The War Of Art?”

BRAIN: “Ayup.”

HEART: “Oh, that’s easy. That’s just being difficult and stubborn, right? But with yourself?”

BRAIN:Right.

HEART: “I CAN TOTALLY DO THAT.”

BRAIN: “Seriously, you are such hard work sometimes, but I think we’re getting somewhere here.”

So that’s how I get the most difficult stuff out the door, how I “pluck up the courage” to make and do things that only have a small hope of succeeding – and no hope of succeeding if I play it safe and trust my feelings.

It’s not a rallying-cry. It’s a stamped foot, a pouty face, a middle finger at the world.

Anti-chicken is when you say I know, I know, it’ll never ever work, I know I’m evil-smelling lint in the belly-button of the universe, but stuff it, I’m doing this anyway! Yes, I am a wretched failure! But I’m good at it! So get out the way and watch a professional fail.

Where logic and reason falter, petty-minded belligerence storms its way to a stunning victory.

Try it. Be anti-chicken. It’s a great way to get things done.


Image: r. nial. bradshaw

  • Elaine Scanlan

    Cognitive behavioural therapy for chickens, and a little nod in there to the hugely talented Allie Brosh. Thanks for this Mike.

  • Sharon Miro

    BTW, I was told the other day that the raised middle figure is actually a symbol of protecting the heart..I rather liked that.

  • Cathryn Kay

    THIS is why I look forward to your posts! You make me laugh and feel better about this monstrously terrifying world of ours. Even if there is no way under the sun I could ever take this advice, it’s good to know it’s there!. Thank you. Cathy J