Focus

Amateurs Add, Professionals Edit

Constraints make creativity valuable.

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark


Some would argue that creativity is best when there are no constraints and the artist or business is free to do whatever they like. I disagree – constraints are what make creativity valuable.

It's easy to be creative if your client has a multi-million dollar budget. It's much less so if that budget is only a few thousand dollars. A professional can hone their creativity and deliver something beautiful regardless of the financial constraints.

Amateurs add, professionals edit. The best restaurants have fewer menu options, not more. The best magazines and blogs are the ones that curate their content and don't settle for information (or inspiration) overload. The best photographers are the ones who can capture myriad emotions in a single image. The best designers are the ones who keep deleting ideas until the product is so simple you think you could have created it yourself.

Constraints and editing require clarity of thought and vision. Constraints require someone to truly know their craft. These things make a business more valuable, not less.
 


Originally published November 2010

What You Gain From Not Paying Attention To Your Frienemies

Party by    Todd Events   , photo by    Cameron Clark   .

Party by Todd Events, photo by Cameron Clark.


One of the most toxic things you can do is try to justify or minimize another person's success. Just do your thing and let them do theirs.

Justifying or minimizing someone else's success often comes in the form of a statement like, "Jane can accomplish that because she has X, Y, and Z – whereas I only have Y and Z.” This way of thinking and living is debilitating. 

What could you accomplish if you channeled even a fraction of the energy you spend on being bitter towards someone else because they were seemingly dealt a better hand, or because others, "Don't know what Jane is really like?"

Spending 15 minutes per day – ten minutes here, five minutes there – hate-following someone on Instagram or Facebook adds up to 91 hours per year.

That's more than two 40-hour work weeks spent focusing on the negative. Over two weeks of creativity lost because of misplaced focus. And if we're honest, many of us spend much more than fifteen minutes per day focusing on competitors or frienemies.

What could you create with even just 10% of that energy and time if it were focused on making YOU better?

If you can't ever seem to find time to exercise, how would your health change if you committed to just fifteen minutes instead of the desired-but-never-happening hour-long session?

What new product or service could you launch if you had two extra work weeks in the year?

You have more time than you think.
 


The original version of this post was published June 2009

Measure What Matters

Years ago I took yoga classes led by a granola-chic woman in her fifties with long grey hair.

On the first day a man asked, "What measurable outcomes and milestones can we expect from this?"

The instructor replied, "Ohhhhh, you definitely need yoga."

This wisdom seems apropos as we wrap up one year and head into another. Measure what matters. Learn to let go of the rest.


Originally published January 2015