|Learning to Fly, from 1970's sketch pad|
“Perfection is a ridiculously low standard because you can never achieve it.”
Tony Robbins, well-known personal development guru
Perfectionism: noun: a tendency to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable; especially: the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a tendency to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness.
Are you a victim of Perfectionism?
Perfectionism can be the cause of cluttered houses, messy desks and artwork that is left unfinished or never started. We can't get started because we're afraid we can't do it just right.
If perfectionism is our standard, we cause ourselves a lot of misery. We find reasons to put things off "until I have time" or "until things are different" or "until some day when the stars are lined up just right."
My friend, Marla Cilley, aka The Flylady, adviser to slobs everywhere, says that when perfectionism rears its ugly head, no progress can be made in the effort to get control of the chaos in our lives. She advises that any little bit of effort we make towards cleaning up our homes blesses our families.
What does housekeeping have to do with your artistic practice? I'll tell you a story:
Once upon a time, when I was a younger artist, I met a woman I admired, an artist of greater skill than my own. We had a great time chatting about art. She showed me her sketch pad and it was just chock-full of stuff. Ideas, drawings, scribbles, dreams, cartoons - it was a delight to see.
Then she asked to see my sketch pad. Yes, I had one. Brand new, spanking clean, and not a thing between its covers.
It was embarrassing. I explained, "You see, I don't have a lot of money and this paper is pretty expensive. I don't want to ruin the pages by drawing on them something that isn't good enough."
She just shook her head and replied, "What do you think a sketch pad is for anyway?"
The next day she brought me a brand-new sketch pad and handed it to me with this remark:
"Here you go, use it up. It's just paper."
What a gift! A pad of "just paper" and a whole new way of thinking! No one had ever explained it quite so simply. She had given me the freedom to make progress and to let go of perfectionism. I filled up that sketch pad.
I still have it. The drawings in it remind me that we don't have to be perfect, we just have to do something.
|Unfinished, From 1970's Sketch Pad|