The Flinch: Its a mindset thing.

Brandon dropped into our DM's with a story to tell. He is a leather worker and has been for some time. With many hours of his own craft and teaching under his belt Brandon had some advice he wanted to share and we are all to happy to be sharing it.

The Flinch: Its a mindset thing.

Words by Brandon Corral - Leather worker

Eight years in, a lifetime to go.

My name is Brandon. For the past eight years, I've been trying to carve out a career as a leather artist. I sculpt things out of skin and then turn the skin into valuable things- the details aren't important. I want to discuss the useful and often necessary skill of entering the correct mindset to tackle daunting challenges. I'm going to try to be very honest. I don't like sugar-coating. More specifically, I'm terrible at sugar-coating. I'd rather be transparent and honest than safe and vague.

Suppose you're familiar with the world of creative entrepreneurship. In that case, you must be fully aware of the colossal number of challenges that are put on your plate on a very regular basis. If you're new to this world, don't stare at it too much; it can smell fear. This seemingly insurmountable mass of things to do and things to accomplish can look scary, and let's be honest, it is scary, but the useful skill is not to avoid being scared. No, fear is useful. Fear keeps you sharp if you can manage it. The useful skill is to prevent flinching in the face of it.

I had a bit of a rushed childhood. My mother indulged in the classy lifestyle of meth consumption when I was six years old, and that set me up to grow up pretty quickly. It's not the best and, unfortunately, a more common thing in the world than we would like it to be. However, when you grow up, you have to learn lessons fast. Before I could do multiplication in my head, I had to learn how to navigate gang culture. This was my first lesson in creative entrepreneurship, long before I became a creative entrepreneur. Now, for those who are unfamiliar with this concept, I'll run you through a scenario. I promise there's a point to this.

The Flinch.

A group of guys are walking your way. Based on instinct, something is a miss about the scenario you find yourself in. They're about to say something to you, and the next 5 seconds will determine your day's direction. Where I grew up, where gangs were prevalent, most of the time, said groups are simply going to ask what gang they represent (For you, this may have been school or workplace bullies). You could tell them you're not in a gang, but that's not what they want to hear. What they want to know is whether or not you're going to flinch. If you flinch, they'll know you're an easy target; you are now labelled an easy target, prey if you will.

The key is to make sure they understand that even if they feel like beating you, you won't give them the satisfaction of being afraid of it. You'll welcome it if it's going to come to that. That earns their respect, and you might end up with allies from the interaction. It's wild, I know. I don't make the rules.

The point is that from a very young age, without realizing it, I learned how to identify when something is trying to smell my fear and how to calm myself and keep from flinching. Flinching makes you sloppy, indecisive, and unconfident in your decisions. When faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, your mind will make you want to flinch and back down.

Entrepreneurship is not a job; it's your life.

Being an entrepreneur can feel like that. It's not just a job, you are living your life in manual settings, and that shit can get scary when you don't have a safety net. You'll be put in tense situations regularly, but remember not to flinch. Be confident in your decision, even if you're about to get your ass beat. And you will get your ass beat- that's just a part of the game, but you come out stronger and wiser on the other side.

I can only speak for myself for how I pull this off. Catching your fear while it's happening is easier said than done, and doing something about it can be even trickier. For me, I try to fool my body first, and the mind will follow after. Control your pace: literally, move slower and more confidently. Breathe fuller and deeper. Control your language: don't use uh, uhm, and filler words like that. Pretend you have eyes on you that are trying to watch for nervousness. Smile more. You can trick your physiology into making you feel a certain way just because you're giving off the right signals- being relaxed, smiling or laughing, and not being forced into rushing. 


Be greater than yourself.

Now for the mental part. I read this advice in a book about samurai when I was a small child, and it stuck with me forever. When you've already signed your life away to something greater than yourself, you are already dead. Assume you are already headed down the path of failure, but you will go down swinging. What is there to be afraid of now? 

If there's one thing I cannot be, it's boring. It shows in my work; at least, I hope so. I'm sure this story took some turns you weren't expecting, but the lovely people at We Are Makers told me to be myself, so here I am. I hope you can scrape some useful bits from this story and put it to use. At the very least, You'll know you are not alone as a creative entrepreneur.

Pro tip: Being funny when you're terrified is a great way to hide fear if you're funny enough. Make fun of fear shoes; that's always an easy one.

Check out more of Brandons work on his instagram here,