The pressure to perform can be as helpful as it is disastrous.
As a writer, I am torn between do it now and wait until it is perfect. For a long time, I was confused about what school of thought to pattern myself after because I didn’t want to offend the wisdom of either, as I respected and admired the work of people who swore by both.
I grew up in a time where the seven year old who makes 3.1 million dollars in first year of business and the seventy-five year old who wins a marathon got the spotlight shone on them while the thirty-five year old doing either gets a mere shrug. As a result, I have tried both – I produced work too quickly in a bid to rush up to spotlight but then realizing it wasn’t ready. Frustrated and guilt-ridden, I resorted to endlessly waiting for my work to be perfect or until I am ready.
Problem is, I never feel ready.
My perspective is broadening as I meet people everyday. The journey to purpose and significant work as creatives is often a path of undulating slopes and we grow through the process of a balance of learning and creating.
Don’t birth into the world a poorly written first draft at sixteen just because you will look cool doing it. I’d rather you give us an irresistible bestseller at twenty-two or thirty-five! You must remember that it is okay, yes, it is perfectly okay if you do not get there first or as early as you think you should. But it’s really terrible if you get there first or early and have nothing significant to offer, because you will be asked to stand aside.
There is an interesting story in the Bible (2 Samuel 18:30) where Kind David’s army commander, Joab, needed to get a message across to him. Ahimaaz thought he could run faster so off he went. He got to the king before the Cushite, who had the message, but because he had nothing to deliver, he was asked to stand aside. You see, the king will wait for the one who has something to offer, even if he arrives later.
It’s great if you do create masterpieces as early as you can, but if you can’t, it’s okay too. Do not let your performance be fraught with undue pressure to perform. The experience and maturity that comes with the diligence of mastery (or age as the case may be) is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes, you may have brilliant ideas, but your character is not formed – it is important not to rush the process because the wisdom you gain from the experiences on the journey is as important as the destination.
Listen. Pay attention. Learn. Fine tune. Release. Then rinse and repeat.
You don’t have to get there early because no one is observing the time. Really. No one is.
It doesn’t matter who is there right now, they will step aside when someone with something significant arrives. You don’t have to get there first because it’s not a competition. You don’t have to wait till you feel you are ready, because what you need to do is to prepare and then share it when opportunity comes.
It’s often not about when you get there, it’s about what you have to offer.
If you fall short at an attempt, shake yourself up and do it again. My advise right now is to be a life long student. Take on opportunities as they come
Do it one at a time. Do not compare yourself to other’s journey. One of the reasons why I just pay attention to doing good work rather than fussing over when and where I am published is that I am on a unique race.
Imagine you’re an athlete. You’ve trained for so long. You are ready for the meet, then when you squat on the track, the marksman announces, “hey, everyone, today, you won’t be competing against the people on the other lanes. The’re a personal creative best you’ve been equipped to achieve at this time. Today’s race will be about how much you have applied yourself to your personal best or how much you have improved since your last record…”
That’s pretty much the life we live. You’re on the same track as everyone else in the word. But you’re not running the same race. Each person has a unique set of gifts and abilities and paths of purpose to benefit the world. It is your duty to find your purpose and pursue it’s achievement.
As long as you are alive, what matters is the impact you make on other people with your work and the peace and joy you experience through the process of growth on purpose.
The creative life is a long-distance, not a sprint. And if there is one thing to take out of this article, it is this –
run your own race with diligence.
P.S. Check out my latest project here. Thank you!