Last year I entered a competition for online businesspeople, hosted by entrepreneurial thought leader Jeff Walker (above).

I didn’t expect to win the dream vacation, but I did hope to be selected as a finalist.

As a finalist, I’d give a four minute presentation on stage to almost a thousand other entrepreneurs. Scary, but as an ex-teacher this was scary-exciting for me.

Heck, I’ll admit it: I wanted to show off a bit. I pictured myself on stage in a gloriously crazy historical outfit that would stop the show, and in that “wtf?” vacuum I’d have the opportunity to try to inspire the audience a little. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

Furthermore, I thought that maybe being on that stage might open doors of some sort – for a start, last year’s finalists had enjoyed an awesome mastermind meeting with Jeff himself. So I did the work, put myself out there with heart pounding, and waited…

Queen of the Hive by Jutta Burghardt. Entry in the 2018 Foundations Revealed Contest

Queen of the Hive by Jutta Burghardt. Entry in the 2018 Foundations Revealed Contest

Last week I announced the full details of the 2019 Foundations Revealed Contest. Naturally, a discussion has begun on social media…

“Are you entering this year?”

“I don’t know, are you?”

If you’re in that uncomfortable decision making place, what’s stopping you from putting yourself out there?

“I’ve been thinking about entering the last two years but I’ve never done it. Because honestly I’m terrified of trying to come up with a good enough design… For a contest like this, I feel like it has to be something special.”

Perfectionism: the bugbear of many a creative. But when we all vote, and when our special guest judge makes her selections, we’re not looking for perfect. We’re looking for humanity, for victory over fears, for how you made it work despite the obstacles. Make the journey… and tell us about the unintended consequences that made your work imperfectly perfect.

“Last year was my first year and I was terrified – right up to the moment I hit the Enter button on my computer… The only way to overcome those jitters is to keep trying… You can do this!”

This commenter is right… it’s all about making the baby steps, despite the fear.

“I want to enter again this year. But I’m afraid I won’t have enough time  Though I love the theme this year!”

As a reply to this comment said, “Start now! Then you will have time!” Without doubt, the biggest mistake people make is leaving it too late to begin. I hate to see creative people reining in beautifully grand plans. Get started now, and give yourself months and months to do something amazing!

Diaphora by Elizabeth Moody. Entry in the 2018 Foundations Revealed Contest

Diaphora by Elizabeth Moody. Entry in the 2018 Foundations Revealed Contest

So how did I fare in that business competition?

The finalists were only announced when we arrived at the event, and so I was all prepared, with costume pressed and speech rehearsed. But my name was not called, and for a while, I was disappointed and kind of embarrassed. I’d felt like I really had a chance, and it was upsetting that I didn’t even place…

…Until I put on the damn costume anyway and went down to an evening reception at a Texas conference hotel in my chemise à la reine. It was a revelation. My entrepreneur friends had never seen anything like it. It started many conversations. To see myself through non-costumer eyes re-defined who I am and why I do what I do, and since then I have been sure to wear a costume at every single business event.

With Jeff Walker at Launchcon 2017

With Jeff Walker at that evening reception at Launchcon 2017

“The bar is set so high now! But honestly I really think it’s not about winning, or doing something ultra amazing, but about pushing yourself just a bit more than you usually do.”

They say that winning isn’t everything; it’s about the taking part, right? Right. The “taking part” is a journey of discovery. It’s a trajectory that takes you places you’d never be able to go otherwise.

I’d never have the drive and vision that I have for my work today if I hadn’t summarised it into a four minute speech (that only I ever heard) and hadn’t worn my favourite costume in a crowd of non-costumers.

When you enter a competition you find out what you’re capable of. You find new direction. You flex your creative muscles, and find out why you’re really doing all this… and that’s rocket fuel for your journey after the competition is over. Everyone wins that prize.

So as far as I’m concerned, you can’t lose when you put yourself out there, in a competition or in any other capacity. You can only win. Isn’t that worth a little bravery?