I wrote a blog post on How Perfection is Killing Your Creativity. Basically the cliff notes is that you are not going to achieve any level of mastery through the pursuit of perfection.
I know this might conflict with some commonly held beliefs, but that is the truth. That being said, I decided to create this top 10 list so you can move past being perfect in order to achieve greatness in whatever you do.
So here goes, the Top 10 Ways to Achieve Greatness in Whatever You Do:
- Commit to the process - As I mention in the 14 Things a Real Artist Does Podcast, if you're not committing to the process of creating art on a daily basis, you are not a real artist. A real artist in the sense that being an artist is your identity. Success is always a byproduct of the process. When they sleuth on the show Yukon Gold, they are testing different areas of dirt and going through a process to achieve the result they are looking for, which in that case is gold.
- Understanding that perfection is the enemy of greatness - The process produces better results over time, but if you spend all of your time on one section of the process, you're never going to finish the entire process. The biggest mistakes artists make is that they think that their work is not good enough and they are right. It probably isn't good enough, but it's not going to get better if you don't complete the process. Perfection prohibits us from completing that process and puts all kinds of non-essential facts and reasons in our way. When you create a shit load of art, some of it will become product. Product is the art that you monetize that society deems great enough or perceives to be great enough to exchange money for. Sometimes you never know what will become product. While you may think it's not perfect, that has nothing to do with what the market thinks and you're never going to get to that hit if you're always worried about making the last song perfect. Sometimes good enough is great.
- Limit your exposure to toxic substances - We all know this because I talk about it all the time. I have struggled with it and you struggle with it. But if you do it, you're never going to get where you're trying to go. Booze, cigarettes, hard drugs all of these things, especially used outside of the artistic context are harming your body and mind and preventing you from going through the process to become greater. Instead of waking up and pounding out that new song, you're waking up with a pounding headache and decide to check out for the day. You have now lost an entire day because substance has robbed it from you. Not just that, use of these substances in conjunction with the behaviors they produce can harm other people. I'm not even going to say that moderation is okay because for some people, like me, it's not. I have to either abstain or go all out. There is no in between.
- Eliminate your exposure to toxic people - Having toxic people in your life that downplay your desires and dreams have no place in your reality, period. Cut them all loose. It doesn't matter if they are friends or family if they doubt you they are not part of your spirit tribe, the tribe you need to cultivate before you leave this planet. Notice how I said doubt. I didn't say if they express concern for you. It is okay for people to be concerned for you, your future and your direction but when that concern for your direction turns into directions that's when you have a problem. That being said, cut all these negative people loose because they are only going to drag you down.
- Don't try to replicate the success of others - There is a huge difference between taking inspiration from a master and copying a master or anyone else you admire. As I mention in the post about The Master, The Artist and the Masterful Artist, there are stark differences between all of these. These days, people are so addicted to the thought of being famous, known or infamous that they will try to copy style and strategy of other artists to create product that resonates with a marketplace. This is a mistake. Not only are you a fake artist when you do this, but it may or may not be sustainable. The entire music industry as a whole for the last 10 -15 years has become a product of this mentality. The use of pitch correction, saggy pants or whatever the current fad is are all examples of people trying to replicate the success of others. If I sound like this or act like this maybe I will get treated like that. You might initially but when the master worthy or praise shows up, you're going to be looking stupid when contrasted against you.
- Develop a Unique Skill and go deep - I talk about having a unique skill or developing unique skills that nobody else has. This is what attracts people towards you. If you have something that can't be replicated, the market will develop a dependence for the good or service you offer. Once you develop that unique skills, deepen it. If you're a guitar player with a certain style, focus on that style more so you don't sound like anyone else. If you’re an actor, develop your method so that your method becomes desirable because of its ability to transverse different character roles. If you're a female trying to keep a man, treat that man like no other woman treats him and reinforce it frequently.
- Only collaborate with people of equal or greater value - All artists are not created equally. If you're a master, you should only be collaborating with other masters. If you are collaborating with someone who is not on the same level only do it if they possess a unique skill. Fame or infamy has nothing to do with this concept. There are lots of people that you should never collaborate with even if they have huge brand name recognition. Fake Artists, Fake Gurus, Famous for being famous people, YouTube celebrities, instagram models all of these individuals are of lesser value to the Real Artist. If one of these people engaged me to collaborate, I might put my Unique Skill on their Fake product, but the consumer is clearly going to see who the master is in the process.
- Stay committed to your vision - I should really say that your vision is the only truth you should be concerned with, but I understand that not everyone striving to achieve greatness has the same path. Regardless of who you are, if you are trying to achieve greatness, staying committed to your vision is paramount. There are going to be growing pains, things are going to be uncomfortable at times, if not all the time. There is going to be a lot of pressure from the outside world to get you to change your trajectory or conform. You must resist and stay committed to what YOU feel you should do. You know deep down what it is that you should be doing. It's called the niche or the nagging itch. That one thing your heart tells you to do that will bother you for the rest of your life if you don't commit to exploring that desire. You can always change your trajectory or strategy to serve your new needs at a later time, but don't go to New York if your compass is telling you to goto Miami. You know what your compass is saying and if you don't then you're not conscious. If you're not conscious you won't be searching for or patronize any of my content anyways, so it doesn't matter.
- Be careful with regards to partners and starting a family - Just because I live my life like a mercenary doesn't mean that I don't recognize the nobleness of a man who has chosen a different path than I. Some people start families. Some people have great partners in their life. Sometimes these things can enhance your ability to become great or assist in that process, but it could potentially be the thing that derails you. If you're conscious you will know the difference and if you're not, then you're not reading these words anyways.
- Revel in your progress - Sometimes the outside world will call you great even when you don't believe you are great. The real artist is always striving. They are always getting better. When you attain true mastery that means you have a skillset that nobody else has that impresses everyone who doesn't have it. Other masters respect you and talk about you because you have become what you wanted to be. While it may not be exactly what you envisioned, it's okay to revel in your progress because society at large has deemed you a master worthy of praise. Even though you may still have work to do, it is perfectly okay to revel in the progress you have made to achieve whatever your definition of greatness is, because ultimately that's all that matters is what you think about your art and how it makes you feel relative to being a successful individual.