Say if you are a dancer, you have an idea, a great vision of a choreography that you want to bring to life. In your mind, you are utterly flexible and light, your body can do anything that you could imagine, and you can really jump high. However back on the dance floor, you have to deal with gravity. Throwing yourself into dance is one thing but the moment you look at your own picture or video, you start to scream…
Of course this is not limited to dancers, the same crap happens to a painter, photographer, designer, inventor and anyone who is on his/her way to creativity recovery. We just feel so flat in front our vision – the reality is nothing when compared to it.
Fortunately there are ways to get around this hopeless gap.
Accept the existence of gap
If you do want to create with peace, then you need to quit the perfectionist way of acting. No matter how hard you try, how much you push your limits, there is always a barrier of some form of “gravity” to restrict you, and to everyone. I remember a while ago that I saw one of Da Vinci’s quotes, “my work has offended God and mankind because it hasn’t reached the standard it should have”. Initially I took it as sarcasm, however looking back now, I kind of understand the pain he was talking about. We are not masters, but the source of underlying pain is the same.
Give your work a purpose
What is the message behind your work? Hopefully it relates to some universal truth that you are expressing in your own way. The purpose is the bigger picture, it is the reason why we are working on our project. It keeps us going. When we fail, it is not because our techniques aren’t perfect, it is because we failed our purpose. On contrary, if you deliver your purpose, it doesn’t really matter if your work is 100% polished, it will touch the people that it is meant to touch anyway. If the purpose of your project is singing with healing effect on people, keep that in your mind all the time, it will affect your choice of songs, your presence and your underlying intention. Then the moment you start to sing, you already are healing. Purpose can put your mind at ease. It can save yourself a thousand attempts at video editing, or a hundred hours of photoshop once you captured the right moment at the initial second.
Detox your subconscious mind
I just came back from the zoo, and while I am writing this post I still can’t get out of scenes of what I saw: cheekiness in monkeys, cuteness in giant pandas, ferocity in lions… . They are all raw, but they touch us because they are being themselves. It is easier for animals to be so due to their nature. We were also good at that when we were toddlers – creative and expressive straight from the heart. However once we grow up, we forget who we are. Our minds are filled with too many: “shouldn’t”, “can’t”, “not good enough”. We hide our inner child deeply to protect from any criticism. We must unlearn the B.S. that has been imposed on us. We need to bypass the censor, the top dog, the subconscious mind, whatever you name it (I will write a more in-depth post on this next Thursday). Make appreciating and loving your work be your “must have” attitude. Concentrate on your strengths, make your “weaknesses” gradually become ignorance and ignorance will turn into bliss as they say. Keep the amateur enthusiasm. Amateur in Latin simply means love, let the love and passion be the fuel for your project/work to unfold.
On one hand, we need to keep the amateur attitude to keep ourselves in the creative process. On the other hand, when it comes to the last stage, which is getting yourself out there and presenting your work, we are scared and feel insecure. At this point we need professionalism carry ourselves through. Marie Forleo is one of my favourite modern marketing leaders. She built up her business empire from just her laptop. She taught us: “unlike many things in life, going pro is something completely within our control. It’s an attitude. A way of being. A daily and sacred soul practice.” She got this idea from Steven Pressfield’s book War of Art. In an interview Steven said, “It is like training yourself. I always say that habit is a mighty ally for us. And that’s what Murakami probably meant. He gets up and laces up his shoes and doesn’t even think about it. The thought of “Should I crap out today?” may cross his mind, but the habit is so strong that he’s on autopilot. We need that to some extent. We need every resource we can to break through that Resistance….So the pain of not doing it was worse than the pain of doing it.” Absolutely love it!
In fact, in the game of life, we should all be professional players. If you are serious about building a life on your own terms, then show up to your day with a pro attitude. And do that everyday.
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