Fear, creativity, and the stock market

September 18, 2008 in Art as a professiontopics:,

While continuing our conversation on creativity and fear continues over on this post, I realized that the recent insanity in the stock market gives us as artists a good lesson on the nature of fear. (“What?,” you say, “artists learning from.. the stock market?” Yes, of course! Artists should be willing to learn from any source.)

The current unrest in the stock market is causing a lot of fear in people. I know, because I’ve been caught up in it some too. And this is a natural reaction, because suddenly being exposed to something with such a big impact is going to shake you up a bit. But how people react to that fear is where it gets interesting.

Some people are giving in to their fear, and panicking. Selling off their stocks, fleeing the market, and trying to pushing their money into “safe” investments. It feels like the right thing to do. But ironically, it is not. By doing this, they are basically guaranteeing that any money they lost will stay lost. By trying to be safe, they are actually holding themselves back.

Yet others are feeling that same fear about the market, but instead of panicking, they are stopping, watching, and listening. They are not trying to “protect” themselves, they are trying to find the opportunities. As a financial advisor friend tells me, you never make decisions because of fear, you make them anticipating the fear. Every investor knows (or should know) that stock markets always go through downturns, and when they do, you will feel that fear and panic. So instead of dreading it, or ignoring it, you plan for it. You look forward to it. And when it comes, you remember that it is a natural part of the economy. It still scares the heck out of you, but you understand it, and are ready for it.

Artists can follow this example. Making art is a lot like investing in the stock market. (How’s that for a quote?) You invest all of your energy into it, hoping for long term gains. Some days your investment pays off. And other times, it crashes. But when it does crash, you should never panic. Remember that your creativity goes through cycles of booms and busts, bulls and bears. When it’s high, you will feel unstoppable. And when it is low, you will fear that your creativity is drying up, or that you are a fraud as an artist. Just remember at these times that this feeling of fear is natural, and don’t succumb to it. When you feel the fear, don’t run and try to protect yourself. Don’t panic and lock in your losses. Invest in it. That feeling of fear is the signal that it is time to step out on a limb, and push forward and (hopefully, god-willing) grow.

(Needless to say, I am not a financial expert, so please take my understanding of the stock market with a few fat grains of salt.)

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