The anxiety of opportunity


This is an unusually big month.

In addition to going into the studio several times to continue recording my next album and heading over to Ireland to play at a festival, I will be playing my first-ever hosted, internet live-on-air concert.

I will also be performing at an international convention of leaders and influencers in the fields of technology, entertainment and design.

I am really excited by the opportunities these events present for me to promote my music, make new friends, fans and contacts, and learn.

But I also feel a sense of anxiety about them.

For some reason, despite the positive nature of opportunity, it carries with it an emotional agenda that can cause stress and anxiety.

It might have something to do with having to confront my own wishes, expectations, insecurities and limitations all at the same time.

What if these events fail to deliver what I expected?

What if I miss out on something important during these events because I was not prepared?

What if I just don’t know enough to make proper use of opportunities I may encounter?

I think anxiety (and worry) have a lot to do with under-developed thinking about existing and/or upcoming issues, making things feel unstable and up-in-the-air.

A grounding process is needed.

These days when I feel that unpleasant, anxious feeling, I know there’s actually something positive behind it: an opportunity is at hand, and the anxiety is telling me to get in touch with the opportunity by preparing for it in more detail.

The whiteboard is my go-to.

By the time I finish looking at an upcoming opportunity from every angle using the whiteboard, writing down ideas, developing insights, asking questions, visualising likely scenarios, identifying the resources I will need to call upon, and making decisions about how best to exploit possibities that may emerge, I have both a clearer picture of what’s going on and an operating strategy for moving forward within it.

Solving problems with the whiteboard involves both creativity and logic. Reason works hand in hand with imagination. It uses both brain hemispheres equally.

Whiteboarding is as low-tech as you can get (with the exception of the iphone photo I take of it afterwards), but it works brilliantly.

It focuses your attention and resources on what you can control, and causes that anxious feeling to be replaced by a feeling of confidence, clarity and empowerment.

Not to mention that at the end of a whiteboard session I have a “map” to refer to, add to and refine as new ideas come along.

Have you discovered the magic of the whiteboard?

What do you use it for?

What makes you turn to it?

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9 Responses to The anxiety of opportunity

  1. Wayne says:

    Hi Preston,

    Being creative by nature, I have always had a tendency to see things from a multitude of angles. Abstract thought is great for many endeavours, but sometimes creates a clutter. By illustrating thoughts in a visually cohesive fashion sometimes hidden answers to challenges emerge. My day job as a Journeyman plumber in new construction, I rely on whiteboards to demonstrate project demands and to scatter-plot costs and projections. Something about speaking and writing out your thoughts on a board seems to convey information concretely.

    As a musician, I am practically desperate to try to make a living at it. Sometimes seems overwhelming, but when I write down my short, and long term goals I can reflect more easily on the positives and visually see what I have a achieved and what the next step is, and it allows me to see how I may need to change things up. Seeing little successes pile up to a big achievement is like positive reinforcement, and with that there is clarity.

    And sometimes I just use the board for random thoughts, inspiration, grocery lists. 🙂

    Thanks for the great insight, inspiration, and openness.

    Your Canadian Friend

  2. Your Blogs are always inspirational Preston just like your music. Be great to see a few of your whiteboard “artworks” via twitter. Thanks for the creative sparks. Martin @Nitramdraddil @TheAntelopes

    • fretgenie says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Martin.
      Glad you are continuuing to read
      and enjoy these posts :^) My iphone
      whiteboard snapshots are hard to read.
      Not sure I would want to share them on twitter, but thanks for the idea. Will think about it.

  3. Aimee Campbell says:

    Yes, the whiteboard…mine’s full of 4-squares: for tasks, I sort important+urgent, important-urgent, urgent-important and neither urgent nor important (just don’t want to forget them); for things I’m struggling with, another sort: top 2 boxes, what I love about and why I should and why I should not pursue it; lower boxes, what I fear about and why I should or should not pursue it. These take more time to populate as the words that are added are more feeling/intuitive in nature. But in the end, when I feel I’ve exhausted myself on the topic, I can then look at what I’ve written—and where I chose to place it—and start to suss connexions and gain clarity about my feelings. They’re a lot less a mash-up. Sounds odd but works for me. Peace.

    • fretgenie says:

      Thanks for that input, Amy. There must be something about writing things out in large letters and then looking at them :^) Also something comforting about being able to see it all (all three dimensions of a problem) in one place, on a single surface.

      • Aimee Campbell says:

        I think that physically writing stuff (or playing/singing music or painting/photog, etc.) is one way we add idiomatic feedback to what our brain is trying to accomplish. It’s akin to the
        feelings ya get when performing, feeling the energy if the crowd, then channelling it back to them as you perform. Our bodies are the pathway to our souls; that’s why doing something either feels right or feels “off”. So writing on a whiteboard will give you the same rich experience of your true self far better than just listening to the chatter of ya inner monologue. Just sayin…

      • Aimee Campbell says:

        I meant SOMATIC feedback, not idiomatic. Flippin spellchecker!

      • fretgenie says:

        I liked “idiomatic” more lol. Sounded intellectual. Feedback within the idiom, ya know? You gotta love that creative spellchecker :^)

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