What stops you from consistently producing at the level you want?
For me, one of my greatest daily struggles is my fight with perfectionism.
Every time I think I’ve “conquered” perfectionism, it rears its ugly head yet again. Reminding me about the imaginary, future, super-me I’m supposed to be. The super-me I could have been if I was talented, skilled, and disciplined enough to follow through on my intentions.
This super-me doesn’t bring insecurity in just one area, it does so in many. Consistently exposing the gap between where I am and where I could be. Nothing’s off limits. It points out the gaps in my abilities, in my communication, in my writing, in my leading… And on and on it goes.
Whenever I see the gap between who I am and who I thought I would be:
I feel behind.
I feel unworthy.
I feel stuck.
I feel demotivated.
I feel like I can’t move forward.
I bet you can relate. Maybe you’ve dreamed of taking the next step, but you’re allowing fear and disappointment to hold you back.
Maybe your goal is to be a musician, dancer, singer, actor, writer, speaker, or designer, but you feel like you’re too late in the game.
Maybe you’re afraid that others will see you’re not as far along as they thought.
Maybe you’re afraid to admit you’re not as far along as you thought.
Either way, we have to find a way to accept where we are… and be willing to do the work to close that elusive gap.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO:
If you’ve related to anything I’ve said so far, then I want to share a story from David Bayles’ and Ted Orland’s “Art & Fear.” This story has encouraged me to let go of perfectionism and start producing more.
“The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were ALL produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”
So what’s the biggest lesson we can learn from this?
No matter your goal or action, give yourself grace to just do it. Do it bad. Do it weak. Do it clumsy.
As babies, we learned to walk not by thinking about walking, but by actually walking. By standing up and falling. It’s how we learned then. It’s still how we learn today.
So keep executing on the habit. And at some point, current-you will catch up to super-you.
IDEAS FOR ACTION
- Aim for quantity