Ok let’s be honest.
What is your first thought when you decide to go for a workout, publish a project or post something on the social media? I bet that as most of us, at some point you think that you need to be better, do the “perfect this or perfect that…” or at least show a vision of what you do that will look
good great. There is so much comparison going on by the simple act of sharing our accomplishments online that we probably can’t help thinking this way.
But do we need to be the best at everything we undertake in order to be valued and recognized in this new era of increased connectivity? What is the point of seeking perfection for its own sake (or even worse, pretending we are doing something at a superb level just to “look good”?
When doing a sport, an art, or even a hobby, if your only goal is trying to be the best or log in a performance, and if you focus on the latter only, you will certainly miss the pleasure of the journey itself entirely. You also probably won’t have anything very interesting to say if you focus on performing. Lastly, you certainly won’t have the internal stamina and determination required to endure in an unusually difficult moment when things get tough.
Don’t just focus on the goal.
While it is important and rewarding to set objectives and be satisfied when you reach them, I think it is even more important to accomplish something for the PERSPECTIVE it can bring you, how it can inspire you, help you grow, give you balance, bring you new insights. Not just for PERFORMANCE.
As I’ve recently realized when running with friends and as Julia Cameron suggests in The Artist Way (if you haven’t read it, I recommend you do), instead of looking for a super fast run to just “show that you can run fast”, why not run for perspective? Perhaps run for getting out, having a moment of quiet away from all your devices, in nature or in your favorite neighborhood, and feel your body, refresh and resource?
In addition to running, I love climbing. It can be tough mentally when your head is full of the day’s concerns. Still, perhaps even more so than with running, if you approach the rock with the sole goal of performance, you will quickly find yourself stuck. You won’t even be able to finish that hard climb. I recently discovered the book The Rock Warrior’s Way. It is eye-opening for climbers but the same thinking can be applied to all areas of life: because climbing is mostly about being clear and at peace with what you are looking for. When things get difficult, and you’re hanging at 20m on that rope in the crux of a hard climb, it will get stressful, no doubt about it. If you haven’t figured out WHY you are there in the first place, you won’t pass, or you’ll have a really bad time doing so.
A much more interesting question to ask then, before going on a new project, profession, workout etc., is asking Why? Why do I do _______ (fill with your word)?
The same goes with art and photography.
In art and photography too, it’s not about being AS good or AS creative or better than this or that person. The process here is perhaps even more important than in sports. Because it is the very process, and the perspective you can bring to the table, which will really make a difference.
A thought I read recently from Jeremy Cowart is “Shoot like you have something to say, not something to prove.” Obviously, bringing a new perspective on a subject or in the message you want to deliver, in a word knowing why you do this project and what unique vision you want to bring to the table, will take you a thousand light-years ahead of what you could have done by just showing that you can master this or that technical aspect.
Connect with your inner self, dig deep inside you to find what it is that makes you unique, what perspective you can gain by doing this project, and how you will grow. in a word, why you want to do it, what perspective it can bring you, and your audience.
So next time, try to look for perspective in what you do. Ironically, it is probably what will bring you to a better performance and exposure in your work.
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