If ever there were a simpler, more innocuous phrase that could cause so much grief, I am unaware of its existence. Most of my life, the utterance of these five words is the beginning of a process that will test my patience, sanity and slumber. They are also the source of almost every accomplishment I am proud of.
The reality is, almost everything is harder than you originally think it will be, and that is good. Because if everything were simple, then everyone would do everything, and that would leave no room for anyone to excel at anything.
There is also one other hidden nugget of truth in this: If you knew exactly how hard something would be before you started, then you may not start it. And then, you would have very few accomplishments. And worse, you would have no growth in your life.
Many times I have said yes to a project without knowing just how deep I was getting myself buried in unknowns. I guess that’s why they are unknowns. I have always done my best to estimate just how much of the unknown I didn’t know, but, being the unknown, the exact amount was unknowable. Wouldn’t ya just know it! Suffice it to say, I have always underestimated.
However, when the project wrapped, I could look back at just how much knowledge and experienceÂ I had gained. I also had a new tools in my repertoire. Those tools always get used again.
I think there is something wonderful about ignorance in the creative process. I don’t think it’s bliss, but I think the challenge of heading into uncharted territory stirs the creative juices and brings out some of our best work. If all you are doing in life is repeating what you have already done before, then you are just a version of an assembly line worker. Probably without the union benefits.
Sometimes the best way to supercharge the creative flow is to take on a few unknowns. That may be working in a new medium, say video when you usually use text, or audio when you are used to pictures. Whatever it is for you, that foray into a new field gives the right brain a kick in the pants.
Every now and then, if I’m not tugging on a few strands of hair trying to extract content from my head, then I feel I’m just not challenging myself enough. As much as I may dislike the moment when I’m in the middle of it, I always love the results.
I know a lot of people, (myself included) want to believe that when we are in ‘our true place in life’, that we should never have this level of stress. It’s not true. Sometimes that stress is what makes you feel alive. And when you feel alive, that is when you are in your true place.