Starting is the easy part…

by vernsanders on March 16, 2012

Some time ago I read a book by Kerry and Chris Shook entitled One Month to Live. Great book, and for a while it helped me focus on things that really mattered to me. Like Stephen Covey‘s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and a number of other books and conference and encounters with extraordinary people, it is one of those milestones in my progress toward being the person I am. Which is a creative.

Creatives get a bad name, for the most part. We’re “moody,” or “troubled,” or” undisicplined,” “hard to work with,” and more. But creatives are also looked at with some sense of awe. We’re “brilliant,” “forward thinking,” “able to see/think outside the box,” and more.

My experience is that, in “cocktail party conversation,” it is simpler to evade the question “what do you do.” When I tell them I’m a musician, they either want me to “play something,” or they start talking about how they took lessons when they were kids and wished they had continued, or they give me one of two looks: the “uh oh…unstable…lock up the daughters” look or the “wow, I wish I could do that, do I recognize you from being on American Idol” look (that last part was a joke…have you seen my picture?).

Now I spend more time writing prose than playing or conducting, and if I say I’m a writer it’s just lather-rinse-repeat from the previous paragraph, only with a “do you ever come outside?” on the side.

But there is a benefit to being a creative. If you do something well, people know you, or of you, even if they haven’t met you. This part is always astounding to me when I go to speak at a conference. People show up to hear me talk because they’ve been reading my stuff.

Let’s go back to that doing something well part in the last paragraph. Some of it is the result of Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. But I’ve spent 10,000 hours doing all kinds of things (like sleeping), and I’m not sure that my results are distinguished enough for people to come hear me talk about it. Which brings me to something I read last year and I’ve had open in my browser to write about since then. This is from a post by Tommy Walker (the marketer) on the Problogger blog.

I think this is the part that even some creatives don’t understand:

In order to raise the bar, you have to over commit to something.

You’ll never learn how much you can do, or exactly what you’re capable of, until you push yourself to the limit.

This is what it comes down to: it isn’t enough to “start a new habit,” or “make a habit of something good.” In my experience, in the creative world, the people who really “change the world” are those who don’t accept “same-old, same-old.” Every concert, or worship service, is done to the best of their ability, whether there are 12 people there or 12,000.

There are no days off from doing, to the best of your ability…and beyond, what you’ve been called to do.

So starting is the easy part. Doing is the habit part. But pushing to always get better is the part that separates the ordinary from the extaordinary.

When is the last time you followed the Eagles’ advice to Take it to the Limit? How do you motivate yourself to do that every time? I’d love to learn from you, so leave a comment below…

Ipod shuffle status (What is this?): 3705 (Surfer Girl – Beach Boys)  of 7875


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