A few days ago on The Marketing Seminar forum, someone shared this delightful video of Ira Glass—host of NPR’s This American Life—talking about the gap between wanting to do good work and doing good work.
Glass speaks to the way that creatives get into doing the work that they do because they have good taste. Then there’s a stretch of time—years, most likely—when the work you’re doing and your expectations of your work don’t match up.
The antidote to this, according to Glass, is to produce a large volume of work.
In the book Art of Fear, there’s a story about a ceramics teacher who divided his class in two and told one group to make as many pots as possible while the other group would focus on making the perfect pot.
At the end of the experiment, everyone would be graded for who made the most perfect pot.
The students who had to focus on quantity—instead of quality—ended up with the most noteworthy vessels.
I know this to be true for myself as well. I have written Morning Pages every day for over 10 years. About 7 or 8 years into that process, I started getting paid to write professionally.
(I’m sure this could have happened sooner, it just took me that long to figure out that I wanted to be a writer.)
Now, I’m on blog post 45 of my daily blog project. Every day I get a little bit better at sharing my ideas, clarifying my voice, and asking questions to connect with my readers.
It can feel like a very slow process at times. And I’m definitely getting somewhere. My success metrics are rising to the surface.
Most importantly, I’m doing the work I want to do. I am making good art.
I get to write for myself for one more hour every day. I get to work on more chapter of my book every weekend. I get to build relationships with one more potential coaching client every month.
I’m closing the gap, one word, blog post, chapter, and client at a time
I am no longer selling out to my own story that change needs to happen quickly to matter. That change needs to be big to matter.
As Seth Godin says in one of his blog posts:
“There are very few overnight successes. Very few entrepreneurs, freelancers, non-profits, candidates, spiritual leaders, activists or people in a successful relationship that got there with thunder and lighting. It happens with a drip.”
So how are you closing the gap?