Saturday, April 30, 2011

Creativity Killer #2 - Perfectionism

Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it - Salvador Dali

I don't know much about Salvador Dali.  I do know he painted amazingly unique pictures, one of which I bought as a print when I was in high school.  I loved to stare at the picture and imagine what happened to that painted world, how Dali had come up with the idea, what it would be like to be transported into the picture.  My own imagination fed off of his creative freedom.

Perfectionism as a creativity killer is tough to describe.  Of course we have to have standards for our work, whatever that work might be.  When we toil in our jobs, we have certain performance levels we have to meet. As parents, we have certain responsibilities to our offspring to make sure they get the nurturing, care and love they need to grow into healthy, stable individuals.  When we write stories, there is a certain level of skill that must be achieved to keep a reader engaged and produce a well-told story.

The problem arises when we forget that there are many, many ways to reach a goal, to tell a story, to be human.  We get stuck trying to get it "right."  But what is right in one situation (or for one person), may not be right in the next.  If we don't allow ourselves the possibility of "mistakes", then we get mired in fear and close off the part of ourselves that makes us, and therefore our work, unique.  Instead of gaining perfection, we achieve conformity.

Let's celebrate flaws and differences.  How boring the world would be if we were all perfect.  There would only be one story to write, one way.  Only one character who would always react in the "right" way.  Life is messy and beautiful and exciting when we stop trying to be perfect, and instead try to be the best we can be.

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