“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. The more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no resistance.”
There’s beauty in chaos — when the outcome is limitless, ripe with multiple interpretations. Thus is nature.
It is structure that intends to display meaning. The mind stops guessing at identification, shielded with the brain’s umbrella from the books of rain.
Certain things require definition
Stairs need to be intuitive enough to walk and up and down. However, silly putty asks to be flexed and misunderstood. Both are pieces of art, finished or unfinished.
Art requires mixing materials. The end product just needs to work, perfect or carefully disorganized.
The freedom to create is also the freedom to appear unfinished, spaces left vacant for the curious mind to fill in. “One must have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star,” said Nietzsche.
One never overcomes the chaos — they merely live in it.
Rhythm builds thoughtlessness. Work can become more natural out of mechanical motion, a kind of doing without thinking.
Employees can’t make one hundred sandwiches in a couple hours without silencing the monkey mind. The process of unthinking begets a chorus of action.
Similarly, we can’t dribble a basketball nor soccer ball effectively while focusing on the mechanics of the perfect touch. The gears of cognition get in the way of flow. Continued practice helps numb the disease of crippling doubt.
Habits are bicep curls for the brain
Good habits strengthen human software, primarily if we aim to do something consistently.
Like brushing our teeth, it’s the repetitive locomotion that undermines inertia and compels one to keep connecting the chain.
We can get used to being productive if we choose to make practice non-negotiable. All such preparation helps plow the field.
Some people have no choice but to try harder than others because they’re handicapped.
So the shorter basketball player develops quickness and anticipation in order to compensate for a lack of height.
A dyslexic student practices harder than anyone else to read and write — in doing so, they unlock a new way to play with prose. Maybe they even become a poet or build a media empire, like Richard Branson.
A disability can be a gift in disguise
In working harder to overcompensate for these perceived disadvantages, one begins to see that what makes them successful is exactly the thing that causes them so much struggle.
As the author Bernard Malamud once said, “if you haven’t struggled you haven’t yet lived.”
Embracing the dialectic of a beautiful struggle is what underdogs do. They have no choice but to cope with their weaknesses and find other ways to win.
The following formula helps explain the phenomenon of beating adversity:
A lot of people never start because of the fear of imperfection. But when it comes to creating, something is better than nothing.
That something could be as little as a blog post — private or public — a diary entry, a podcast, a simple doodle, or if you prefer to speak through images, an Instagram post.
The habit of making and sharing your art builds confidence. Of course, there will always be others that want to put a dent in your endeavors but most people are encouraging.
Show up and do the work
Even more, two things happen when you show up to produce every day.
1. Your craft improves.
2. You establish an archive of work to pull from.
Once your daily practice of making art is set in the stone and you’ve kicked down the frustration barrier that prevents so many from being consistent, then you can go back and pull inspiration from your work.
“The unknown was my compass.”
New ideas will bloom from the stems of your first drafts, especially the shitty ones. You’ll start making connections and flag concepts that need further elaboration or clarification.
The best thinking emerges when you give your work time to breathe. Reflection increases the sophistication of one’s knowledge and experience.
Through this journey, it’ll start to become clear what types of trade you enjoy, what you want to be known for, and where you want to spend the most time improving.
Creativity is not rocket science. But it requires diligence, impatience with action, and patience with trial and error.
The professional shows up on both the good days and the bad days to hack away at their inner genie. There are zero shortcuts to building quality and long-lasting output.