Courage Fuels Confidence

My pottery studio calls me during the dark nights of fall and winter. When I’m tempted to go to bed at 6:00, playing with the clay offers a productive alternative. Over the last decade, these dark nights have netted me many more pieces than I could ever use myself. My studio is full of bowls large and small, plus mugs and other fun pieces, just waiting for a new home. I also have box full of “almost” pieces that I’m not comfortable sharing with anyone.

I love these pieces. They were my courage cultivators.

In my book Dancing the Tightrope, I said this about courage:

“…courage is actually the primary nutrient for confidence. We need courage in order to try something that might or might not work. Whether it’s facing up to a difficult boss, making a critical presentation or trying out a new idea, we can’t really be confident until we are willing to make a move with an uncertain outcome…Courage is the energy that says, “It’s worth a try. I would rather make a mistake than regret not trying.” Courage sees us through the moments of the Froth, keeping us focused on this moment, as we navigate through pressure-filled situations. After we have exercised our courage, we earn a different kind of confidence. With practice, our courage expands an inner-fueled awareness that we can handle whatever comes our way.”

My courage cultivators remind me that at one point in time, I chose to carry the heavy bottomed, weirdly colored, slightly out of balance pieces through the entire process of trimming, bisque-firing, and glazing. The lack of perfection is glorious. They did not reach this point because I was confident. They reached this point because I reached for my courage to take the next step. These were my experiments, my steppingstones to show me I was on the path to becoming a proficient potter.

I will forever be on the path to becoming proficient. There is no there, there. There is just showing up and doing the work.

Thanks to the years of reaching for my courage, I’ve noticed more inner confidence in my pottery throwing this year. One of my goals was to make a large casserole dish, with a fitted lid. My first attempt went pretty well…until I forgot to go back to add handles and trim it before it got too dry. When I broke it into pieces in the reclaim bucket, I did not feel the despair I might have in the early days. I knew I could repeat the result. My next attempt was also pretty good – but the bottom came out too thin. Another one in the bucket.

At this moment, I’m still living in the uncertainty of the casserole dish. But I’m not worried about it. I’m looking forward to taking each step, one by one, until at some point, the dish I’m picturing in my mind comes to fruition.

In the meantime, I need more space in my studio. There are several excellent bowls of different sizes needing a new home. If you would like to buy one, hit reply to this email and I’ll send you details on what I have and how to transport it from my space to yours.

One more thing. Last month I mentioned that I “signed my talk” the weekend before. Dancing the Tightrope, The Art of Balancing Under Pressure is now available for you to watch! You can see it here.