The following quote is from Seth Godin’s live audio program Leap First (1:55:10). [Some context: Seth’s blog is widely-read, and he’s been running it since 2002. He has never accepted a guest post, preferring to write all content himself.]
I got an email. I get these emails all the time —don’t send me one; I will delete it— from this woman named [redacted], she says, ’May I have a guest post on your blog?’ And I wrote back saying “Which of the other guest posts on my blog did you like? Tell me, and I’m happy to give you one.” And usually, these people don’t write back when I say that, but she said, ‘Oh.’ And then I wrote back to her and said “Why don’t you do what I do, which is write things and put them on your blog?’ And she said, ‘Because I want to get credibility first.’
And you don’t get credibility first. You get credibility last.
It feels good to be trusted.
It feels good to know what we’re doing. It feels good to know that other people think we know what we’re doing.
On the other hand, we need to regularly expand our horizons, effect positive change, and try new things. To do these things, we have to step out of our comfort zone.
And the moment we step outside of our comfort zone, we give up credibility.
You might be a freelance musician starting a new group, a corporate web developer launching a side business, or just someone who’s working in a field you didn’t go to school for (welcome to the club, friend!).
If you insist on getting credibility first, you’ve got a problem.
Suspend your need for approval
This is tough. We’re trained and wired to look to our peers for approval. It starts in school and continues in the workplace. In any industry, though, it takes time to gain credibility.
J.K. Rowling, Ira Glass, and James Rhodes worked for many years without the credibility they enjoy today. What if they’d thrown in the towel due to a lack of recognition?
What a loss that would have been.
Learn to work without credibility
Here’s how you can overcome a need for credibility:
Regularly complete small projects and put them into the world.
That’s it. The medium doesn’t matter. Just ship small things, over and over.
And here’s the best part: when you regularly produce without credibility, you often start to get some.