Sometimes, when praise is due, we nibble instead. DON’T!!!
Years ago, a tiny little book, full of cartoons, written by a woman most of us have never heard of, changed my life.
The book is called The Nibble Theory and the Kernel of Power: A Book About Leadership, Self-Empowerment, and Personal Growth and you can read my first blog post about it, THE NIBBLE THEORY, A Big Little Book. (Actually, I’ll post links to ALL my blog posts about this amazing little book.)
Short version is (yeah, let’s see if Luann can do a short version….ha ha!), we are all circles, big and little. But ‘little’ doesn’t mean ‘less’, and ‘big’ doesn’t always mean ‘better’. Sometimes little circles are in the middle of astonishing growth. And sometimes circles, big and little, when intimidated by another circle whose potential is astonishing, will ‘nibble’ that other circle down to size. Take little bites out of it, so that circle will be smaller and less intimidating.
If you’ve ever received a back-handed compliment, a small put-down (or a major slap-down), anything that makes you feel embarrassed, diminished, less-than….you, my friend, have been nibbled.
We’ve experienced it, and it’s awful.
What’s even worse? When we find ourselves doing it.
A year or so ago, I discovered an Etsy shop called Loveroot. I fell in love with Nikki Zehler’s work, her wonderful designs, the extremely competent use of color, the eclectic nature of her materials. I bought several items from her shop. They were just as wonderful in person.
At some point, she messaged me, saying something to the effect of, “OMG, you’re THE Luann Udell, I’m so honored you like my work!”
And I took my first nibble.
I told her one reason I felt so connected to her work was that it looked like what I might have made, if I hadn’t taken the path of making my own artifacts.
I felt uneasy, even as I wrote that. I wasn’t sure why. (I do now.) But worse, I did it again.
A few months ago, polymer artist/writer/teacher/curator Cynthia Tinapple featured Nikki’s work on her site.
And in the comment section, I thanked Cynthia for ‘helping’ Nikki get her work out there.
Do you see them? My nibbles?
First I implied, “I could do what you do, if I wanted to.” (For the record–I COULD NOT.)
I implied I was ‘better’, because I make my own artifacts. (For the record–SO DOES SHE. And when she does use components made by other very talented artists, she fully acknowledges them. She mixes it up, and makes what she needs when she can’t find it–like me.)
Then I implied that this talented artist needs the help of others to be successful with her art. (The only help a talented artist needs, is for people to buy the work and spread the word.)
Yes, I meant well. (But let’s be honest here–I envy this woman her talent.)
Yes, it’s human nature to be envious. (But we can choose not to act on it. And I did.)
Yes, we are all inspired by the beautiful work of others. (But we can simply acknowledge it, too. Not measure ourselves against it.)
Yes, we are all influenced by the work of others, the ones that are here now and the ones that have gone before us. (Prehistoric cave art. Can’t get much further away from our modern times, right?)
Bottom line: Sometimes when I am confronted by raw, wild, beautiful talent, I’m afraid. I’m afraid the world really is a finite pie, and if someone else gets a bigger piece, mine will be smaller.
And I myself have been badly nibbled by jealous professionals to understand how hurtful even the smallest bite can be.
And so, this Very Humble Apology, for what may be very tiny transgressions, but are still me not being the person I’d like to believe I am.
I want to be better. That means doing better.
So this is for Nikki. I am sorry I nibbled you. I will not do it again. And if I do, I’ll apologize, again.
Check out her beautiful work. Tell her I said hello.
She is a one-of-a-kind artist, and she has nowhere to go but up.
And she will get there on her own talent and story.
Links to my posts about THE NIBBLE THEORY: