Guilt and and being your own taskmaster are often the stick with which we creative people prod (or beat) ourselves. For DaVincis, the effect is exponential — after all it’s not just one but many projects that we “should” be getting done at any given time. And yes, discipline is important; that butt in that chair on a regular basis is necessary to accomplish any meaningful work.
However, it doesn’t follow that constant diet of drudgery and self-denial is conducive to creative productivity. In fact, I’m finding that the opposite is true. Ironically, treating yourself with kindness and even taking time for some downright pamperingis a great way to recharge your creative batteries while you achieve some balance.
Right now I’m writing this having had a delicious facial and and equally delicious round of tapas and white wine at a cafe overlooking the sunset-drenched sea in Del Mar, California. And rather than turning me into a sybaritic blob, only fit for the couch, it made me really look forward to sitting down to do my work and this blog post. From this place of feeling good, and feeling like I matter (rather than like a martyr), that I’m worth taking care of, I’m reminded of what I love about my work — expressing myself with words, playing with ideas, communicating with like-minded thinkers, exploring the delights and the downers of the creative lives of multi-talented people.
After an afternoon of on purpose self-care, non-action and downright indulgence, suddenly, sitting down to do my work seems exciting and inspiring, a “want to” rather than a “have to”. Could it be that being happy, taking time for me, and working less, is more motivating and effective than brute force?
Aesop writes a fable about the Sun and the Wind arguing about who was stronger. They looked down on a man walking down the road and decided that the one who could remove the man’s coat would be the winner. The Wind went first, and tried to blow the coat off the man, who only wrapped it tighter around himself as flapped in the frigid gale. Then it was the Sun’s turn. He simply shone down gently upon the man until he was warm enough to remove the coat all by himself. Even as a child when I first read that story, I could see that the Wind had worked much harder and got a worse result because he went about it the wrong way. He tried to force it. All the Sun did was be himself. And he got what he wanted with almost no effort at all.
Activity: If you’ve been using a stick and it’s not working, try the carrot for a change, even if — especially if — you feel like you don’t deserve it. What would be something you could do for yourself just because it makes you feel good, or more connected with yourself? Now schedule it into your calendar. Extra points if you do it even though you feel like you don’t have the time. 🙂
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Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The DaVinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at http://www.davincidilemma.com/ .