Last night at my mastermind group we had a lot of interesting discussions, as we always do. We talked a lot about our own perfectionism and how we get stuck sometimes, wanting to make each thing we do the best it can possibly be. It’s an impossible goal, so instead we do nothing.
At one point, I remember saying “nothing exists in a vacuum”. What I meant was we’re so lucky that most of the time, we’re not being judged on just one tiny example of our work, by itself, all alone. Most of the time, creative work is consumed in some kind of context: it’s recommended by a friend, it’s positioned on a beautiful website, it’s consumed alongside other pieces, or it comes with a personal relationship to the artist. All of these factors affect how we experience any form of creative expression. And I think they also take the pressure off – a little bit! – for us to need to get it exactly right, every time.
There’s this other phrase I love that says “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Elise Cripe used to say it all the time on her blog, whether it was about photos in a grid or squares of a quilt or days of a creative project. Even her daily habit tracker aligns with this idea. Caroline Kelso has talked about how she realized this while doing her Abstract Affirmations Daily challenge. There wasn’t time to get hung up on any one piece, because she had to make a brand new one the very next day.
In the end, I think it’s a relief to remember that there’s power in numbers. What matters is showing up repeatedly and trying your hardest each time, while fully owning that some of the parts will end up being “worse” than others. Knowing that there’s a “sum” to our work helps us relax, and more importantly, it helps us stay in the game.