“Show us your process, not just your perfection.”
This mandate hitting my ears was just one of dozens of eyes-wide moments at last week’s STORY 2018 conference in Nashville—an annual conference that’s been called “TED for Creatives.”
It will take me a while to type up the pages and pages of notes I brought home from this immersive, two-day gathering for artists, creators, and storytellers. I brought colored pencils and markers with me and used them to circle, star, underline, and annotate, in a feeble attempt to somehow capture the wild energy of the event. (It was that kind of conference…the kind where the colors just fly.)
The title quote, in particular, stuck with me (it’s bright green in my journal). What does it mean?
Every day we’re assailed by images and videos and books and articles and ads that are evidence of something that’s reached perfection—or at least as close to it as is possible for the creator. Completed, polished, effective.
We’re not interested, or so they say, in seeing the path the creator had to take to get there. We’re taught in myriad ways that the only thing of real value is the finished product. I take issue with that more than I can explain.
What happens if the ONLY images we ever see in life are of things in a state of perfect completion, or perfect beauty, or perfect symmetry and balance? Is that natural? How does it make us feel?
By “us,” I’m especially referring to those of us who are neck-deep struggling with our own creations.
We’re writing our book, seeking out our ideal clients, building our business/practice, developing offerings that people may support us by buying. And all with that inner clock ticking expectantly: Perfection. Now. Perfection. Now. Perfection. Now. Faster.
On the days when the words just won’t fall on the paper, when new clients just seem to be deaf to what we offer, when things just won’t take shape, I sometimes feel as though if I see one more perfectly-coiffed mega-guru telling me about her latest wildly successful $5000 coaching package – that has, by the way, only 3 spots left, so hurry hurry hurry – I am going to scream.
On those days, more than anything, I want to talk to others who are still in their process too. I want to know where people are stuck, because I too might be stuck, and perhaps (like freeing each other from a mire) we can help each other get un-stuck.
I want to know that someone ELSE is frustrated that their promotional efforts aren’t hitting the mark yet, and they’re not sure what to adjust.
I want to see the rough drafts of a new article, the flawed prototype of a new product offering or even just the first notes scribbled in a frenzy on the back of a flattened-out Starbucks coffee sleeve. I want to smash the illusion that successful ideas are supposed to burst forth from our heads, fully-formed and perfect and with no effort whatsoever.
I want to see the process and the perfection, not just the airbrushed final product.