There’s a story I tell A LOT to heart-led, service-centred entrepreneurs and coaches who have been going around in circles and struggling to make real money in their business for a while, but honestly, it's relevant to everyone who is trying to achieve success of any kind in their lives. Before I worked with entrepreneurs I worked with postgraduates, and it was just as valuable to them too.
Everybody needs to hear this, at least once. I needed to hear it once too, a long time ago when I was a masters student. And you deserve to hear it too.
It comes from Art & Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking (D. Bayles and T. Orland 2012).
And an art teacher. Who split his class into two groups. One would be graded on QUALITY. To get an A+ they each needed one perfect pot.
The other group was to be graded on QUANTITY. They needed about 50 lbs each of pottery to get that gold star grade, but the good news was those pots could be sh*t. As long as it was a pot, it counted.
When the deadline arrived, he discovered something interesting.
In fact, Commander that-new-one-is-as-HOT Spock would say FASCINATING.
Because the ones who were being graded on QUANTITY... their work was:
Simply the best… Better than all the rest… Better than eeehhhhh-neeee-one…
De-fin-iiiiiiiiite-ly better than the-people-tasked-with-making-one-perfect-pot.
And the reason?
They were playing, curious, experimenting, doing, action-taking, making, mess-creating, mistake-making, having fun, full-on learning IN THE MOMENT. For themselves. In their own bodies. Their sleeves were rolled up, and they were in it. No fear of judgement. No overthinking. Just completing things through to the end, over and over, even if they were “rubbish.” Trying something new next time, because there were no rules! Going back to the thing that worked better last time, because there are SOME rules, like gravity and whatnot. And in doing so, they got better. A LOT BETTER. They were getting into "the zone."
The ones making the “one perfect pot...” not so much.
They were thinking. Planning. Worrying. Feeling inadequate. Doing stage 1, messing it up, scrapping the whole thing, doing stage 1 again, and never actually creating much of anything. They were in a black hole of perfectionism that kills PRACTICE. They talked about what “perfect” meant. They researched. They worried about what people would think. They looked into what other people did think. They compared.
These students didn't have fun and relax into it, after all they KNEW they were going to be judged. And the result? Perfecti-crastinating, and lack-lustre results.
If you want to make more money, there's a practice for that too. Called learning to feel good enough to ask for more money.
Practice is everything: practice creates FEEDBACK. My own research career confirms one thing most clearly - we make ourselves in the things we do not the things we think we might maybe do one day.
BEFORE PERFECT COMES PRACTICE.
This means perfect doesn’t come BEFORE confidence or clarity, skill-building or connecting, putting yourself out there to get peer approval (and critique) or messing up, nailing it, or pivoting. The closest we can ever get to perfect comes from those things.
It’s the practicing and making mistakes and getting feedback (from yourself i.e. “oh - this pot worked out great when I tried that!” and from others “Oh, that one's the best yet, I LOVE that glaze!”) that gets you close to perfect. Attempting perfect before your practice is an oxymoron. It just can’t happen.
Believing in your brilliance BEFORE people have validated it is the ONLY way to ever show it to them and get that validation.
Being brave before you have the evidence, and being resilient when it doesn't go exactly according to plan is what gives you the evidence you can do it.
You are the fountain of your own self-belief. And you have to PRACTICE it.
The other way around - aiming for perfect, right out the gate... It keeps people stuck on the starting line.
One year... five years... ten years... even TWENTY YEARS into their business, clients have come to me, still on the starting line. Amazing, gorgeous, talented people. Stuck and going around in circles on a hamster wheel, feeling like others are winning the race.
Because how do you practice things like brilliance, or bravery, or self-belief???
That’s very “generic-positive-message” abstract, and unhelpful right? So let's break it practice down.
It’s about creating the right manifesting ENVIRONMENT.
All successful practice is grounded in material and the body. As Kirsty loves to say “the brain is the organ that named itself and all the others” - it’s actually a self-obsessed little a-hole that likes itself the way it is and wants to perpetuate its own dominion over your life by keeping unhelpful thoughts on centre stage. It likes to be RIGHT and will sabotage your best efforts to prove it wrong. But it is only ONE part of the mighty system that is your whole being. Thank goodness. Learning how to activate your whole body and being and your physical surroundings as one united manifesting unit is incredibly powerful and liberating.
The right manifesting IDENTITY
You know who you want to be, but it's hard to truly say goodbye to limiting beliefs and wondering whether you are “enough.” It's very important that you don't “fake it ‘til you make it" or becoming a copycat either. Learning to understand where your identity emerges from and being intentional about working on that, however, is life-changing. The best thing you can do is learn what it means to truly, deeply, with commitment, honour, and loyalty, love yourself. The real you is the version of you that you were born to create as, just as much as the one you were created to be.
The right way of BEING
Not just thinking or doing. Human being. No action will ever move the needle as powerfully as the courageous actions that scare you and move your soul. That means being still and centred enough to hear the call inside you.
Whilst none of these are easy, what I can promise you is that consistently working on you creating the things you desire gets easier every day. Not only because manifesting becomes easier, but because your desires start to shift to express the highest version of you so that you and your desires start to match one another perfectly. Desires that match someone who is not who you really are will always be harder to manifest because well... the real you that's a universal powerhouse of incredible energy doesn't really want them.
by Dr Morgana McCabe Allan