A Story of Lost Trust - In Oneself, One’s Audience and One’s Work

Zeb Was Over Analysing Everything. Telling Himself He Could Have Done Better. He Needed to Have Tried Harder. That He Wasn’t Good Enough.

Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

It was early morning when Zeb left his hotel to find somewhere quiet to have breakfast. He didn’t want to bump into anyone who might have been at his concert the night before. He wasn’t feeling good about his performance — he felt disappointed with himself, and he felt his fans were also disappointed with him.

He was inside his head and walking on autopilot down the backstreets of the city, his head bent, so as to avoid eye contact with anyone. He was over analysing everything, telling himself he could have done better, that he needed to have tried harder, that he wasn’t good enough. That all his years of creating music in his garage, all his years of gigging wherever he could get a spot, all his years of building from that to perform to bigger audiences, to have his own concerts, all those years of hard work, and he still didn’t have what it takes to be performer.

As he walked a man tentatively approached him and said: “My daughter and I were at your show last night, we had a great time, thank you.” He continued: “I’ve been finding it really hard to connect with my daughter since she became a teenager. We actually don’t talk much anymore. Everything I say seems to irritate her. But last night, your music, it really helped us connect. We didn’t talk — we didn’t have to. We simply shared an experience. We were in the moment together; no words were needed. It was really special, thank you. I’ve never really understood before when people would say music brings you together, and helps you connect, but now I do, and I am so grateful for the experience we had together. It’s a memory I will treasure. Thank you.”

Zeb thanked the man and they parted. As Zeb continued his walk, he reflected on what the man had said, which really struck him in an impactful way. The words he had spoken, and the sentiment behind those words expressed in his tone. It resonated with him in a way that was meaningful because it felt truthful. He had received lots of compliments over the years, many of which were gushing and didn’t feel genuine, but this was different, this felt real.

Then he happened on a café, which looked to be quiet, and so he went in. In doing so he saw it was also a bookstore, and was immediately drawn to a book on the display table.

Book Wisdom

The book was The Practice Shipping Creative Work by Seth Godin. Zeb was a fan of Seth’s work, and so he picked up a copy to read over breakfast.

The question “Do you trust yourself enough to ship creative work?” from the inside cover, spoke immediately to Zeb. As did these:

Words of Wisdom

Which directly followed the question: “Learning to trust, yourself, your audience and your work — is the core component of the practice. Whether your creative work takes the form of a painting, a song, or a company, there is no formula for success.”

“But there is a pattern, a practice all successful creatives engage in. The best way forward is to recognise it and commit to it.”

These words were followed by this:

Sage Wisdom

That also spoke to Zeb:

Shipping, because it doesn’t count if you don’t share it.”

Creative, because you’re not a cog in the system. You’re a creator, a problem solver, a generous leader who is making things better by producing a new way forward.”

Work, because it’s not a hobby. You might not get paid for it, not today, but you approach it as a professional. The muse is not the point, excuses are avoided, and the work is why you are here.”

“Lost in all the noise around us in the proven truth about creativity: it’s the result of desire — the desire to find a new truth, solve an old problem, or serve someone else.”

“There’s a practice available to each of us — the practice of embracing the process of creation in service of better. The practice is not the means to the output, the practice is the output, because the practice is all we can control.”

“The practice demands that we approach our process with commitment. It acknowledges that creativity is not an event, it’s simply what we do, whether or not we’re in the mood.”

“The practice will take you where you seek to go better than any other path you can follow. And while you’re engaging in the practice, you’ll honour your potential and the support and kindness of everyone who came before you.”

Making music is what Zeb does. This brief interaction, followed by reading these words, led him to asking himself: “Why do I do what I do? His self-feedback brought his mind to this answer: I help people to connect, with other people, and with themselves and their own emotions. Helping people gain perspective on their own lives, taking them to a different place, even if only for a short time, helps them escape their everyday world. That’s why I write, produce, and perform my music. In that moment Zeb knew that no matter how he had felt about the night before and how it had gone in his mind, this brief interaction reminded him of every reason why he does what he does — his purpose.


Zeb knew in order to grow as an artist and a performer, that he needed to think through every performance, analyse it and access what went well and what could have gone better, because that’s the only way he’ll continue to learn, improve and develop. But in that brief exchange he was reminded too that he was there to serve his fans, and while his self-feedback is valuable, what also matters is how the audience feels about his performance.

He realised that while yes, he continuously needs to strive to be the best he can be as an artist, he also needed to have a greater connection with people in the moment during his performance, both as individuals and as a crowd; and he knew to do that he needed to get out of his head and be present in the moment.

Today’s featured book is: The Practice Shipping Creative Work, by Seth Godin.

WorkLife Book Wisdom

The intention of this story is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

Zeb’s story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Use Your Purpose to Help Others by Carmel O’Reilly, from the School Of WorkLife book series.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of www.schoolofworklife.com My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.