A Call for the Creative: Let Go of Perfection and Start

“Why can’t you start by being honest?” This was the question I asked myself. Then asked myself again. And again.

“Are you sure, John? Are you sure people will respond to honesty rather than perfection?”

Truth is, I’m not sure. But when are we ever sure?

Perfection is constantly a step ahead of us, just out of reach. Perfection is like our cat, Bella. She wants me to pet her, but as soon as I go to do what she wants, she moves. I get up and move to her new position. She moves again. Of course, she’s still upset the whole time.

Why can’t you keep up, John?

Perfection is always upset at us—always crying for our attention, but never attainable. Still, for some reason we keep running, reaching, reacting each moment it escapes our grasp once again.

No, I’m not saying we shouldn’t invest our time or energy in what we do so we can have greater impact. There’s nothing wrong with being driven to improve. But I know I must challenge myself with honest questions:

  • Invest for what?
  • Improve for who?
  • Why am I doing what I’m doing?

Am I driving toward greater connection with myself and others—toward true encounter—or am I just running away, while I say I’m just trying to be great.

I love when Bella eases into a space and simply enjoys the moment. Why? Because she reflects to me what I actually want. Presence. Connection. Peace. Joy. These are more than cliché words to throw around, with a quick, “Oh, isn’t that nice.” These are, in fact, central to breath. To health. To wisdom. To life.

When we ask ourselves honest questions like those above, we begin to recognize fear. We come face to face with it. Then we get to choose: run or dive right through.

When you choose the latter, something interesting happens. All of a sudden, you end up in a space you never knew existed: a space of freedom.

What is this honesty in your bones? What is this ground on which you stand, empowering you to see your beauty and your battle scars, to breathe the breath that can only be yours?

You have now arrived—not to perfection but to the true story, the full story. On the other side of your big wall of fear you find a space to create and keep creating.

A couple weeks ago, I started getting really practical with all of this. I saw fear. Heard it. Felt it. Then I dove through it.

I started sharing a new idea on Instagram, even though the idea was still in development. I started assembling a team even though I can’t pay them much right now. I made a Facebook live video to introduce the new concept, forgetting to hook up a couple things to make the quality better. I sounded tired after a long day of trying to set up a website and connect complicated membership and email software together. I posted the video anyway. In fact, I put it on the front page of the website.

I decided to start sharing posts like these to tell people about SceneStudy—a new community for artists—before it feels safe to share.

I decided to let go of perfection and start. I hope you’ll join me.

About John J Mannion

Hi! I'm John. I'm rebelling against the mini-bio that tells a little piece of a little piece of the story.