In our creative quest we face two challenges. On the one hand, there is the tension between the me I see in the mirror and the imaginary ideal me waiting to be unlocked in some distant, tantalising future. On the other, there is the pressure to present some refined, or authentic version of ourselves to the world.
When I talk to friends in the corporate world, they talk about a heightened version of this tension, in the way their workplaces ask them to think about their weaknesses. I’m no expert here, but even a cursory glance across the Inter- net reveals plenty of horror stories about opportunities for growth or development needs. Why do businesses love this kind of language? A more cynical view might suggest these say less about employee potential than the work they do as tools for managing career expectations, slowing people’s advancement, and making it easier for an organisation to plan its future.
It’s not that we don’t all have limitations that might need to be addressed. But, the notion we need to be com- plete and well rounded before we can achieve our potential feels inhumane.
Artists are often demanding people because vast areas of their lives don’t need to be optimal. They spend more
time giving freedom to their creative work than fixing what is wrong.
“One puts into one’s art what one has not been capable of putting into one’s existence. It is because he was unhappy that God created the world.”
– Henry de Montherlant
The path to mastering our craft involves building up our skills and often requires us to address the areas where we lack ability. But the path to artistry involves embracing our imperfections (and the angst and frustration they generate), while still managing to feel liberated enough to create.
If we are not careful, an imbalance can easily take us over. We might end up investing much of our energy trying to improve the skills we will never be good at, while not focussing enough time and effort on the things that make us unique, not opening up a large enough space for our biggest strengths and abilities to shine through.
This is an extract from my new book No Missing Tools: Creativity In An Age Of Abundance. You can pick up a copy a paperback copy on Amazon for U$11.52 (also available in Amazon UK or Amazon EU), or order the Kindle version for U$6.79 (also available on all the global Kindle stores, check your local price), if prefer and there’s even a digital multipack available for U$10 through GumRoad that includes the pdf, mobi and epub versions (use the code “abundance” for a 25% discount till the end of the month on this version). Finally, there is a numbered, limited edition, hardcover version, printed in Japan available for U$65 direct from my studio in Tokyo.