Perfectionism & Passion: How Soon Is "Now"?
There is a nasty rumor swimming around theseparts that leaves me with an appalling taste in my mouth. This brute dares to categorize our precious dreams as distant, costly, unattainable, “too hard to be worth the effort” and in most cases only reserved for a very few lucky young, able-bodied souls. I don’t have to go to great lengths to express the flaws in that tale...but I bet there is still a shred you might still secretly believe.
There is a bit that sticks with you and whispers, You aren’t good enough.
The biggest counter to a life of complacency (compared to a life filled with accomplishment) is generally a simple dose self-belief. You see, dear maker, self-doubt -- really any doubt at all, can squash your hopes and passions. It can even squash you if you aren’t careful.
All too often, creatives like you and I are tyrants of perfect. Everything we produce is a reflection of ourselves, and therefore must be the utmost of representations that we can muster.
Although the practice of perfectionism might be considered a virtue when producing a service or product for an ever-evolving market, it can also be our greatest creative stumbling block.
More often than I would like to recall, I hear my fellow creatives spew out their passions and ideas with all the hope and excitement they need to get started, only to be followed with a detrimental defeatism big enough to bring down an army.
You see, dear maker, Perfectionism is a crutch for procrastination, and procrastination eventually leads to complete and utter paralysis.
Think about your last great idea.
Where did it go?
What did you do with it?
I bet it was filed away with the others in that idealistic vault you’ve labeled “One Day.”
Yes, I know you’ve heard the “One Day” rhetoric.
“One day I’ll have the money, the time, the margin to focus on my passions.” Some may label it “dream”, others call it retirement. Anything stored away, unused and dusty, I call: tragedy.
You don’t have to wait to be freed to pursue the things you love, you are already free! You have power over every choice you make. Everything you need to pursue your purpose is either already in you, or in front of you.
Rather than being discouraged by where you are not, begin to focus solely on what it is you want to spend the rest of your life building. During this first stage you will be refined by your willingness to learn and seize opportunities. -- Amy Howard, A Maker's Guide: A Letter And Roadmap To Creative Entrepreneurs, pg. 37, “Timing is Everything”
The hard truth about all of this is—now don’t take this the wrong way, dear maker….You aren’t good enough. I know you read this and thought, “Wow, stab me in the heart, Amy!” But what I’m trying to communicate is, none of us are!
At least in the beginning.
A BRITISH BULLDOG PICKS UP PAINTING
Winston Churchill, England’s Prime Minister during World War II, took up painting in June of 1915—when he was 40 years old. Churchill was first exposed to watercolors by his nephew during a summer retreat. In desperate need of distraction from his stinging removal from Parliament, Churchill quickly thrust himself into his newfound outlet. Subsequently, painting proved to be more than a hobby, and more like one of the greatest passions of his lifetime.
Although he didn’t pick up a paintbrush until 40, he produced more than 500 canvases over the course of the next 50 years. He had always been known as a dominant and pragmatic leader, and likewise treated his art like any other endeavor he had previously faced--fervently.
“...[E]xperiments with a child’s paint-box led me the next morning to produce a complete outfit in oils,” Churchill recalls. Classes upon classes upon trial and error later ushered this influential British Prime Minister into prestigious museums and award ceremonies right beside those that had been studying art their entire lives. He was even known to frequently invite fellow members of Parliament over for lunch to gain critique and insight from them. It wasn’t solely Churchill’s talent that brought him acknowledgement, it was his unwavering dedication and pension to devote himself to his passions, not matter how humbly he had to begin.
“The first quality that is needed is audacity, there really is no time for the deliberate approach.”
-Winston Churchill (on his approach to painting)
In the end, some of Churchill’s impressionistic works would be auctioned off for over 1 million euro. The value of Churchill’s willingness to give over his heart and soul to his art would end up proving more valuable than he could have ever dreamed.
Passion = possessing a strong and uncontrollable emotion or intense enthusiasm for something.
It’s not that the perfect day, or the perfect opportunity, or even the perfect YOU will ever come, dear maker, that’s not the point. It’s more so that YOU have to see the greatness in the opportunities the Current-You, already have.
No one accomplishes greatness right off the bat. What we learn from history’s greats like Churchill, is that no matter how small you have to begin, you have to just go for it! Invite one and all who can help you to help you along in your journey. Those baby-steps, those classes, that critic, will be just the propellant you need to understand that it’s not about being “good enough”—it’s about a journey to refine your passion into something great.
The magic is always found in those first small and measurable steps, dear maker.
Until next time!
To see the artistic works of Winston Churchill, click here.
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