September 22

Have you ever heard an artist or business leader interviewed about their successful project? Often they’ll gush about how proud they are of the work, and how it perfectly captures their original vision.

And, they’re probably lying.

The truth is that very few creative projects truly match the original “a-ha!” moment that inspired them. Ideas always appear much more perfect in our minds than they do once they are brought into the world, where compromise and tension are inevitable.

Author Scott Berkun described this dynamic in a recent interview as a series of “gaps” that must be navigated in order to do navigate creative work from inception to completion. 

The Effort Gap: Some people become paralyzed at the thought of taking action on their idea. It feels perfect in their mind, and they fear that any execution will never live up to their standards. Is there an idea that you’ve been afraid to take first steps on because you fear it won’t live up to your expectations?

The Skill Gap: According to Berkun, it’s easy to become paralyzed when you compare your in-process work with the work of the best performers in your field. Is unhealthy comparison preventing you from taking action on your idea or in your leadership?

The Quality Gap: Even the most brilliant contributors still experience insecurity about their work. Your work is unlikely to ever live up to your expectations, no matter how hard you work on it. That’s simply a fact of life for creative people with high standards. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. As Berkun shared, “To be perfectly satisfied with something you make likely means you didn’t learn anything along the way, and I’d rather be a little disappointed with projects now and then than experience the alternative of never learning anything at all.” 

Creative work is an assault on uncertainty, and it requires persistence, focus, and bravery. Don’t allow the three gaps to lock your ideas up inside your head. 

Question:  Are any of the three gaps preventing you from taking action today? 

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