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Archive for May, 2014

I have been called a perfectionist. I don’t like it. In fact, I find it offensive. For me, perfectionism is stifling and so perfect in its unattainable state that I wonder why anyone who truly knows me would declare this about  me. Perfectionism is paralysis. Perfection is procrastination.

Oh, wait! How long has it been since I posted on this blog? Where is the monthly e-newsletter I vowed over a year ago to start? What about the canvases started but set aside until I feel more inspired? Seems I hear myself say “I’ve been meaning to….(fill in the blank) a lot lately. And so it is in this visceral reaction that I step back and realize that there is a seed of truth to this projection. In the dark shadows of my psyche I know that there is a tapestry woven from early experiences of silenced dreams and mocked fears.

I have shared my struggle with balancing acceptance, authenticity and the ego hurts that come with being an artist. In a moment of synchronicity, I saw a blog post by inspirational/spiritual speaker, Brendon Buchard. His words are a staccato of truisms for any creative adventurer and perfectionist galore!! I had to share, for so many of us live in the shadow of doubt, procrastination and fear. Is perfectionism holding you back from your art? Is it keeping you from contacting a gallery, submitting to a juried show? Perhaps it makes you a yes-man instead of saying no to the things that don’t enhance your life. Often it makes us say to others, you’re not good enough, or I’ll do it myself. I know I have to step back and allow myself the luxury of letting go of control (perceived, not actual).

I think it’s important to point out that there’s a big difference in being a high achiever and being a perfectionist. They often get confused or used synonymously. But perfectionists don’t often achieve, or at least not to their full potential. They sit idle, mulling; they think things will get better when something outside of their bubble changes, instead of changing their perspective, changing their choices. I hope to be able to recognize the difference when faced with those moments of doubt. Buchard beautifully describes the work and sweat and time needed to get to that place, let me know your thoughts as well.

Brendon Buchard on perfectionism:

The prettiest excuse we wield is the perfectionist’s lie, that crafty and vain and elegant delay logic shared with a high-chin that says, “You just don’t understand, I am a perfectionist so I have yet to finish.” The reason for our holdup is so beautifully precise yet abstract; our personality is to blame. No, the reason most have not finished is because they have yet to truly begin. They got tangled up in doubt or distraction, and so they have yet to commit the grueling focus, toil, sweat, and investment that real work and creativity requires. They believe they fear the blemishes of beginnings and the faults on the path to finishing, but perhaps they fear themselves. If there were such a thing as a “perfectionist,” they would at least be precise and call it like it is: “I am scared and distracted, and so I have yet to proceed or complete.”

And if there were such a person, they would be wise, knowing that the act of “perfecting” something comes only after completing and releasing it. They would know “perfection,” if such a thing exists, only happens after the terrible mess of creativity has been waded through with heart and discipline and excellence; they would know that the real magic happens after a thing is done as best as possible given the time constraints of a true and often terrifying deadline, after it can finally be shared with the world and beaten up and commented on and criticized and iterated; that the learning only begins once you see your work and art in the hands of others, once you see their eyes shine with joy or squint with confusion. 

They would know that day dreaming is not enough; that action, not perpetual analysis, moves us toward a more perfected state; that initiative alone propels us to real glory and greatness; that true high standards demand implementation not anxious apathy; that flawlessness is a fiction of the dreamer and has no use in the reality of the learner, the artist, the master.

Should such self-labeled delayers overcome fear and distraction, and actually allow days and weeks and months of courage and commitment, allow all the sloppiness and the feedback, allow the grand challenge to ego and to faith, allow the highs and lows of inspired and meaningful striving—then they might find themselves having actually completed the thing. They might suddenly realize that it wasn’t perfection they were after at all, but rather contributing something great and worthwhile; that only in the actual duty and discipline to finishing the things we dream of can we become alive and whole and legend; that in the handing over of our gifts to those we serve, no matter how imperfect, is what finally, after all that time, fulfills our mission and lifts our souls.

So let us lose the perfectionist’s lie and get at it. Let us do the work and take thrill in the toil and hardship and meaning that inspired action gives us; let us create and share and learn and reinvent with joy; let us complete it and release it and love it and allow our works to live under the sun for some growing and weathering and beautifying. Let us become masters.

Brendon Burchard – Live. Love. Matter.

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