Friday, November 9, 2012

When You Just Don't Feel Like Working


The creative process is messy, clumsy and frustrating. By creativity, I refer to anything requiring imagination, perseverance and discipline to produce a solution or end result. This of course includes writing, painting and music but also coding, running a business, maintaining a household or answering phones for a busy executive. There are days when even the most spirited among us cannot find enough juice to get on the field of play. The difference between peak performers and those who consider them lucky is how they react to this lethargic state. Instead of waiting for inspiration, they do the only thing they know how. They get up and get to work.

Michael Angelo summed it up well when he said: 

"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all."

Extraordinary work is about more than inspiration or motivation, but grueling, painstaking effort. While the public marvels over the finished product, only the artist and God are aware of the pain it took to produce.

Hence, the seasoned artist is hardly impressed with himself. For daily he comes face to face with his own imperfections. He must in order to produce great works.

The Cure for Lethargy

The only way to cure this mental numbness is to simply get to work, even if all you produce is garbage. On occasion, magic happens and inspiration strikes. This is when the engineer finds the buggy code after days of getting nowhere. When the accountant takes one more look at those returns and uncovers hidden dollars. Or when my 9 year old son says to me, "Daddy, I think I'm ready to try long division again."  An hour earlier, he was almost in tears, but now he zips through in a matter of minutes. Inspiration is for those who commit themselves to their work.

Inspiration makes the faithful climb the twin peaks of perseverance and discipline for a mere morsel of insight. The worker, the artist then returns to the lab to create something worth sharing with the world. Days, weeks or even years may pass before the work is complete. Yet, the artist labors on in appreciation of inspiration's gift.

More than Showing Up

Do not mistake being at work with doing work. How many people do no more than show up, and then complain of being miserable? This is a cry from their spirit to get off of their ass and do something! The spirit naturally wants to move, to strive and to achieve, yet is trapped in the body of someone waiting for a miracle.

It is okay if you do not feel like working today, but it is not okay to not work. Perhaps that wall is not a wall at all, but the line between average and extraordinary.  The place where inspiration awaits and the masterpiece is born. Give in to the temptation to rest and you may never get this chance again.

So, let inspiration alone to do its job at a time and place of its choosing. Your only concern is to do your work, and allow the magic to happen.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The PlayersLounge.

Oh, and get back to work....

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