Being Found Out

He’s a giant in the music business, the second-wealthiest entertainer in the world, worth more than half-a-billion dollars. His songs are adored and downloaded by people on every continent, from age 10 to 110. He’ll go down in history as one of the greatest composers of all time.

And yet, in a recent interview, he said he suffers from the same insecurity that many others admit to. Specifically, as he put it, he’s afraid of “being found out.” In other words, someday people will perhaps share the same doubts about his work that linger in his own mind and the game will be up. He won’t be able to fool anyone any longer.

And who is this alleged con artist? Paul McCartney.

I chuckled when I heard this, because I think Sir Paul speaks for an awful lot of people, especially creative types. Regardless of your industry or your aspirations, no matter how much success you have, there’s a little demon in your head who whispers “smoke and mirrors, man; smoke and mirrors. One day everyone will figure out that you’re a fraud.”

Fake It Till You Make It

Sure, I suppose there are some who do fake it. There’s even an old joke about “fake it till you make it,” but how many people can honestly pull that off for long?

What it really boils down to is this: You’re often your own worst critic - which is not necessarily a bad thing. Stumbling through life believing that everything you do or say is golden is . . . well, crap. Contrary to the preachings of today’s Self-Esteem Patrol, a lot of what we produce is crap.

But a lot of it is touched by magic. Through continuous effort and - this is key - continuous learning and evolving, we can produce greatness. McCartney might’ve slipped a few times, but we forgive him for singing “the dog-gone girl is mine” because he wrote Maybe I’m Amazed. We try to forget Ebony and Ivory because he belted out Hey Jude.

The Saddest Outcome

The day you allow the lows to blot out the highs you either (a) lose your compass and start working from a place of fear, or (b) stop trying altogether. And then it’s not others who are shutting you down and stifling your efforts; it’s all you - which is the saddest outcome of all.

So enough with this nonsense about being ‘found out.’ If you’re an artist of any kind (painter, musician, author, whatever) - or, for that matter, an accountant or an architect - sometimes you’ll stink it up. Just keep grinding away, keep producing, keep delivering your vision to the world. They may not like it - or they may love it.

The worst thing they can ever ‘find out’ is that you shackled yourself with doubt and maybe - just maybe - stopped short of your masterpiece.