“To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do – away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes.”
“To the critic, art is a noun. To the artist, art is a verb.”
"Look at your work and it tells you how it is when you hold back or when you embrace. When you are lazy, your art is lazy; when you hold back, it holds back; when you hesitate, it stands there staring, hands in its pockets. But when you commit, it comes on like blazes.”
Those three quotes are from Art and Fear: The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orlund. Now read them again. This time substitute "love" wherever the words "work" or "art" appear.
Now read it again one last time, substitute "life" wherever the words "work" or "art" appear.
Intriguing, ain't it?
I haven't touched a business book in a few years. Partly due to burn-out since I used to review business books as a hobby, and since surviving the Indian Ocean tsunami they just felt a little bit, well, cold (no offense intended to business book authors) compared to so many other things I could be doing with my lifetime. After one survives a disaster, reading "Execution: The Art of Getting Things Done" drops a few notches on the "to do before I die" list.
In October I decided I wanted to shake some things up a bit, by attempting to break my routines (being a Gemini a "routine" is anything I've done for more than a year ;)).
I was desiring to break through a personal plateau.
For instance, I decided if I walked into a bookstore (now that act of walking in is a definite decades-long habit--why not a knitting shop instead?) I'd at least be open to "new" topics or ones I was purposefully averting. So I my eyes fell upon, "Who's Got Your Back," by Keith Ferrazzi. I had recently heard it mentioned in one of those ubiquitous "how to get rich" newsletters I decided to subscribe during the same timeframe so I wasn't averting money (part of the shaking things up process). Keith Ferrazzi charges CEOs $250,000 to coach them to better relationships in their networks, often peer networks (in case alarm bells of "too warm and fuzzy" are sounding, although close connections are their own reward in my book).
"Once when I was in Italy visiting my extended family near Milan, one of my great-aunts took me to a local churchyard where many of my relatives are buried. The church itself is one of those Renaissance cathedrals with a soaring dome. Looking up from the pews, it's hard to imagine how it was built. But outside, when you trace with your eyes up and down the exterior, you can see how the vaulted dome rests on firm columns, which in turn are supported by substantial foundations. It's all out in the open, for anyone to see.
To me, the courage to reveal your vulnerabilities reminds me of the structure that supports that dome. No one would ever attempt to build a church from the top down.
. . .The key to building that kind of foundation, leading to respect, empathy, and trust, is to do so gradually, through increasing degrees of intimacy and self-disclosure." - Keith Ferrazzi, "Who's Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success--and Won't Let You Fail"
Ferrazzi intertwines vulnerability and candor with successful risk-taking--which is basically what courage is. In The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace, which I also read recently, M. Scott Peck shares how vulnerability and commitment lead to bonafide community (not a superficial one where it everyone gets along because they avoid everything of any consequence) or a clique.
I don't typically follow Internet meme flurries, yet I was drawn to this video presented by Dr. Brené Brown (Dr. Brown's blog, Ordinary Courage) making the rounds lately (I took notes over in my Footnotes blog):
Dr. Brown is firmly rooted in her Ph.D. academic researcher credentials and identity and in the very beginning she shares how uncomfortable she feels with the TED organizer's suggestion to change her title from "researcher" to "storyteller" so it doesn't sound dull in the event program.
Dr. Brown exclaims, "You're going to call me a "storyteller"? Why not a magic pixie!" I laughed particularly because it echoes my journey. I clung to the identity of computer engineer for so long as it gave me a wide berth from the sticky stuff of people patter. (Machines made much more logical sense.) Then I dipped my toes into soft stuff by route of marketing. Then I started to call myself a writer (eh, close enough to "storyteller").
Not that any stamp of identity is necessary, but if you were to pin me down nowadays "magic pixie" is fairly spot on because what I care about are the enchanting possibilities that most people label "impossible." It's a work-in-progress, however go ahead and peek as I crystallize the vision (that's not the end-product, rather it's a public doodle of its coming into being), please see http://soundwhole.posterous.com--I'd love your feedback.
p.s. There's still time to accept my inviation to be my miracle partner, http://bit.ly/miraclepartner
p.p.s. Wonderful example of aiming for perfection compared to aiming for execution from Art and Fear, "Throw More Pots."
art credits: mural by Jesse Reno; unknown source for the trapeze artists