“Do or do not there is no try” - Yoda
I’m not a huge fan of Star Wars but I am in love with the character of Yoda. I think I see him looking back at me sometimes when I look in the mirror in the morning. But all jokes aside as simple as this quote is, it packs a lot of power for me. May the force be with you. Doing or not doing is the most powerful choice that we can make. It makes a difference between millions earned or not. Being seen or not. Having brought your dream into reality or not. Having made a change or not. Getting started with any project is the hardest part. Be it a new business idea, creative project, or in my case learning new choreography. Taking action and getting started is the first obstacle that we have to overcome on our way to creating something new. Even small steps will take you forward. Just trying to take a step won’t get you anywhere. Staying in a mindset of only trying has no flow or movement. I like to think of it as practicing rather than trying. The idea of practicing something also seems a lot less daunting and will create forward momentum.
What keeps me from getting started?
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great” - Zig Ziglar
Perfection is something that gets into my way a lot and keeps me from getting started. My mind has this incredible ability to present me with a million scenarios in which everything that can go wrong will go wrong before I even get started with anything. When tackling new choreography for my classes that is out of my comfort zone there is this little voice in my head that will say, Oh you old fart, you can’t do this anymore, leave it to the younger kids. This voice also comes out when I put my artwork up in my Etsy store. The little devil on my shoulder says are you kidding me? Do you think anyone will pay money for your doodling? I’m sure you have a voice like that in your head as well. The one always reaching for perfection and comparing your creations with others.
Over time I have learned to navigate around my little perfectionist devil. Once I realised that the only thing that keeps me from doing and getting started is thinking the outcome has to be perfect right away things began to flow and I stopped feeling so stuck all the time.
Dealing with the perfectionist devil
The worst devil that sits on my shoulder and keeps me from getting started is the perfectionist devil. He will always jump right to the outcome and assume that it won’t be perfect enough, so it’s not worth even get started. I have learned to shut him up by asking: Well, my little red friend what does perfect REALLY mean? He is a smart little devil so he will wipe out the perfect definition.
adjective: perfect /ˈpəːfɪkt/
Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
And there it is, “as good as possible to be”. The magic words to activate the getting started superpower in me. The truth is that there is no universal perfect because the level of possibility at a certain point in time is different for every human being. As good as possible is different from you as good as possible for a multitude. It would blow the proportions of my little blog to list them all right now. The point is that perfect looks different for each and every one of us especially when it comes to creativity. Some people think you are a genius, some people think you are mad and some people will think you are a mad genius. What matters is not perfect it is the other p-word and that is precious. Create something that is precious to yourself then there is a good chance that others might catch on. It’s the love that goes into creative work that matters. Will everyone connect to your work because of that? Most certainly not but rule number one in my book is:
You can’t please everyone, so stop trying! Remember Yoda? There is no try
Do to the very best of your ability and keep practicing creating something that is precious to you -- precious is only defined by you on no one else. It carries your voice out into the world it is your very own version of whatever it is that you are creating. In my case, the choreography I learn and how I interpret and execute it has a different feel from someone else dancing through the very same steps. All my past dance experience and skill level and also the lack of it is reflected in how I present the choreography. There is the daily from that plays into it, again a multitude of small elements which all find their place in creative work. Nobody will remember if the performance was perfect, they will remember how it made them feel and how precious the performance was to me. If the message and intention came through.
Focusing on creating something precious rather than perfect is so much more exciting to me than creating something perfect. Getting started is easy and kicks my little perfection devil right off my shoulder. Once I’m in the flow of doing and loving it I will do it again and again, practicing and practice, as we all know, makes progress (I bet you thought I was going to say perfect ;-)
The comparison devil
Another little devil that pops up on my shoulder trying to stop me from getting started is the comparison devil. The ever comparing voice starting every sentence with: Loook at this one… or Loooook at that one….. you would never be able to do it like this and on and on. The sad thing with this one is he is right. There will always be someone doing the same thing as you or a version of it more or less successful than you. So this little devil needs to agree to disappear. So I will make some tea and cuddle up with him on the couch to tell him, yes my little devil you are so right. Look at all the amazing posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Flawless and amazing in everything they do. Beautiful faces and mesmerising bodies everywhere living the most successful and wonderful lives. These are no match for me, yes I can see it. My little devil then gets all dreamy-eyed and slowly fades away.
- Dramatic pause -
Then I leap off the couch and scream:
But I don’t care you say I will do it ANYWAY!!!
I will get started today and worry tomorrow. Usually, I get so excited about doing that worrying has no room in my schedule.
There is no point in this comparing nonsense. If you are looking for constructive feedback that will help you improve in whatever it is that you are pursuing then make sure it comes from some who inspires you and is a leading figure in your field that you can trust has enough expertise and experience. Plainly comparing yourself has zero benefits.
The Inspiration Fairy
So when those little devils are dealt with I turn to my inspiration fairy usually located on my other shoulder. She will smile at me with rosy cheeks and say: It was about time, let's get started! And off we skip into the sunset practicing freely what we love doing. Not worrying about the result and enjoying the hell out of the process.
Inspiration is nurtured by doing. You only have to get started, enjoy the ride, and open the door for the inspiration fairy. I deeply believe that we all have on inside of us itching to come out. So get rid of the little devils and open that door by getting started. You will be surprised how much light that little fairy can spread in your life.
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