Why we can’t always be good at what we do

If we are growing and consciously creating in business and in life we can’t always deliver excellent work but we can learn from and enjoy the process.

Video Transcript:

Hi, everyone. I’m Katie, artist, business coach and founder of Step Up Create. And today I thought I’d talk to you a little bit about why we can’t always be good at what we do, or subtitle, accepting your shit sometimes.

For me, this has been a huge learning, which maybe I haven’t completely learned. Because I am massively self demanding, I want to be the best at everything I do. I want to succeed, I want people to see me as being professional as connecting and all of this other stuff, right? So this is probably the same for you. And it’s Same for many of my clients, right?

So we live in a society that kind of expects us to be consistently excellent at everything we do. And yet, we can’t. And getting to the point where you admit that to yourself is a really important part of creativity. Because by putting yourself down this route of having to be excellent, you’re missing out on a whole load of other creative opportunities.

And let me put this into context for you. The reason I want to talk about this is because I have just finished the 100 day project, the 100 day project is sort of a worldwide phenomenon for artists and creative people, where on the 31st of January, you start painting or drawing or creating something every day, and you define your own project.

So you say okay, well, for 100 days, I am going to paint acrylic abstracts on this kind of paper. So this this is an example acrylic abstract on handmade paper, same squares, 20 centimetres on this 32 by 32 centimetre square paper. And I’m going to do that every day for 100 days.

That was my challenge, okay to myself. And I started out and you know, whenever you start something out, it’s kind of a, you know, honeymoon period, or it’s going really well, I’m able to dedicate a lot more time than, than I would normally the idea was not that this took hours and hours of my time, but actually that it was just an hour a day, something like that.

And then as time goes on, I started getting paintings that I really didn’t like, and I kept doing it anyway, for me, one of the learnings was the importance of doing it anyway, because from the paintings that I didn’t like, I got new ideas for ones that I did like, or learned how not to mix paint, or ways in which the the paint works in a different way.

This is obviously a metaphor for how things could work in business. So in business, we don’t have a choice, right? Often we have to do a presentation, we have to consistently hand in that report or hold that meeting or whatever, and she days, the meeting will go well, and sometimes it won’t go as well.

And what often happens to my clients is that they then have this sort of self demanding nature, this voice in their head that saying, “Okay, that was rubbish, you should up your game, you should be better, blah, blah, blah”, depending on their family member who probably inculcated this self demanding nature in them, the voice will be different. (Mine’s my father’s by anyway).

And you get into this case where you’re like, well, I’m maybe I’m not as good as I should be, when actually, you probably are, it’s just that you’re telling yourself you’re not. So this is really important in creativity in life, if we start telling ourselves, we’re not as good as we should be, it’s not very helpful, because what happens, we start to believe it and the painting goes downhill, or the presentations get worse, or we start kind of getting into this hamster wheel where we don’t feel good about ourselves, and therefore other people don’t feel good about us and all of the rest of it.

So what’s really important thing is to accept that sometimes you’re shit. Now there’s a there’s a contemporary painter, who recently said to a group of us that only one in seven of his paintings is excellent, and only one in seven of his paintings is, you know, marketable or whatever. And I thought one in seven, one in seven is not bad.

And I reckon that almost one in seven of these, this big wad of paintings that I’ve done, maybe one in seven is okay. And maybe one in seven of what you’re doing is okay, as well. And probably, if you’re classifying it as Okay, it’s actually brilliant. It’s just that you’re being pretty hard on yourself.

So accepting that, sometimes you’re just not as good. And sometimes it’s interesting to accept that and then do the thing anyway. So I forced myself into painting every day, even on days where I didn’t really feel like it And from there, I have a creative practice. I’ve learned more things and developed my painting further by doing that. You don’t have to always take that route, but take the conscious decision. Am I going to do it anyway? Or am I going to give myself a break?

About Katie Annice Carr

Creativity, Communication and Leadership facilitator, coach and consultant.