How to Die Empty

I’ve heard it said that the most valuable land is a graveyard. Thousands of people die every day, taking a lifetime worth of unexplored ideas with them. Poems unwritten, philosophies unexpressed, melodies uncomposed.

I’ve talked about creative paralysis before. We fear failure. We fear imperfection. And, sometimes, we fear success. The first step to dying empty is to identify what’s actually holding us back.

Sometimes financial struggles, time-limits, and personal obligations keep us from making what we want to create. But that’s not what we’re talking about here (though, we often use these as excuses). This is about you and what you’ve allowed to become a mental stumbling block in your creative success.

What are you so afraid of?

Well, here’s what you should be afraid of.

How terrible would it have been if Einstein had decided that he should set aside his ideas for a later day? Would we see the world through the same lens if Maximilian IV hadn’t rescued Joseph von Fraunhofer from the rubble of a collapsed building? And If The Beatles had called it quits after a year of gigging, who would have written the White album?

You have something incubating inside of you. Something marvelous. Something only you can create. Only you have the unique set of skills and experiences that can give that creation the life it deserves.

Overcoming your fears is about avoiding the bigger fear of not doing anything. If you don’t write that song, will anyone? If you don’t push forward and tell the world about the plight of the voiceless, who will?

@@It’s every creative’s personal responsibility to die empty.@@

This is a concept coined by Todd Henry in his book Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day. In it, he talks about how we can become our most creative selves by taking action today rather than putting it off.

So, on behalf of Mr. Henry, I beseech you. Die empty. Don’t leave this life without contributing what you were meant to leave behind.

But here’s the irony of it all: If you work hard, you’ll never actually succeed. Because the more you push yourself, the more you’ll have to give. You may never actually die empty, but you should put in a good effort to try.


What About You?

I hope you found this helpful. If so, please share it with with someone who might need it.

What are you afraid of?

Are you willing to die empty?

Leave a comment below and let me know!