Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Perfection is Overrated (Enjoy the Ride)

We all (hopefully) are striving for perfection in our work (and if you aren't, what are you working for?). However, we think that perfection is overrated.

Often in the artist's journey, we are chasing after some sort of ideal. Perhaps it's the perfect translation from what's in your head to what's on paper/canvas/wood/the dance floor/etc. Perhaps it's worldwide fame and acclaim. Perhaps it's your own holy grail of technical perfection. Whatever it is, it's that elusive thing that we spend our lives chasing.

The thing to watch our for on this quest is the notion that we MUST find it. We often berate ourselves for not being perfect, for not achieving this impossibly high level of awesomeness. Every attempt feels like a failure and we end up crushing our own dreams because the elusive perfection is so far away. The key here is that if we are on this quest for perfection, we must want/desperately need to achieve it, but we have to realize that the road to perfection is what's important, not perfection itself.

You see, perfection itself is overrated. Once you achieve perfection, what are you going to do? You've crushed all competition, you have surpassed your rivals and mentors and instructors, nothing is ever new to you, you can't learn anything more. You just sit there alone at the top with nowhere to go but down. Not a very appealing prospect, if you ask us. What sounds more awesome is the notion of being close to perfection. You have competitors and rivals keeping you on your toes. You have to constantly stay on top of your game because other people are on top of theirs. You learn from your peers, and you look forward to finding something new and exciting in your craft. Sounds much more fun and interactive and amazing, right?

Now don't get us wrong - perfection is still something you want to strive for, but realize that it's something that you probably won't achieve in your lifetime. No one does. Take Michelangelo and DaVinci. These two genius masters of the Renaissance have had lasting effects on the world, and these two guys were alive over 500 years ago. However, they weren't perfect, but both strove for perfection and constantly worked and worked and worked at their craft so much that many would call them "perfect," even though they were not always happy with their own work. Michelangelo wasn't pleased with a tomb for the pope that he worked on for 40 years! The reason we regard these two so greatly is that while they were extremely gifted and talented and produced amazing works of art and engineering, they constantly strove for perfection. Additionally, just because they weren't perfect doesn't mean that their work wasn't amazing and awe-inspiring. You shouldn't knock your own work just because it is not perfect - it can still be amazingly mind-blowing - the secret is to embrace your creation for what it is, and the next time keep on striving for that perfect piece.

You see, oftentimes we forget in our hyper-competitive world that the trip is just as important as the destination, and in the journey of a creative, the trip is more important than the destination. If we must strive for perfection but never achieve it, you can either look at it as extremely depressing and you can give up now, or you can enjoy the neverending quest for perfection and enjoy the ride.

If you're in the creative field because you want to make money, get out. Whatever the field you're in, if you're in it just to make money, then why bother? The whole point is that you should be doing something that you enjoy and love, and you need to find joy in the pursuit of perfection, not perfection itself.

So go out there, try your best, and make something awesome today. Because just remember, while it might not be perfect, it doesn't have to be.