There’s that thing you do. I don’t know what your “thing” is, but you know. It’s the work you are passionate about, that drives you, that makes you excited your eyes pop open in the morning. You know that thing? Maybe it’s painting or writing or coaching or golf or parenting…you get the idea. Your THING. When you’re doing your thing, there’s a sweet spot. Being in that sweet spot is why you do your thing (click to Tweet). You’re not always there, but when you are, it’s heaven. You’re on a roll.
Then there’s the rotten spot. The spot when your sweet has gone missing and you can’t find it…not even if you put an ad on the back of a milk carton. The more it creeps in, the worse it gets, the more you open the door, the more it shoves it’s big, hairy, stinky self through the opening. It gets in your head. It affects the quality of your “thing” and it’s a bugger to shake.
I wrote a blog titled, “It’s Not Always A Masterpiece.” This started a discussion about the sweet spot. So, what are you doing, what are the conditions when you’re hitting on all cylinders and enjoying the sweet spot? What can you observe that makes the planets align and the magic happen?
One of my painting groups offered a lot of insight into this question. The collective opinion of my arty friends is that children have a handle on the magic. They’re not attached to the outcome…they enjoy the process and stop when they’re done. It’s probably because children don’t have to pay for their own canvases. Children approach life with joyful abandon. They know there’s more of their “thing” where that came from. Children snack from the smorgasbord of life (click to Tweet). Without adult criticism…er…direction, they don’t worry about achieving perfection. Kids do what feels good. Soon they’re moving on to the next interesting thing.
Think about that.
So what pulls us out of our sweet spot? Do we try too hard? Do we overanalyze? Is it that critical voice in your head…the adult direction? Do we work it into mud, past the point of joyfully creating and into the shameful, wet-earth of self-critical flogging? How can we stop?
A supportive network that will offer feedback, and whose opinions you respect, is hugely helpful. Putting the work away for a period and looking at it later with a fresh eye can help. Don’t expect to always be at the pinnacle. The valleys of life lend perspective and make the view from the mountain clear and exhilarating (click to Tweet). Just relax. Be calm and just do art…oh, no…I didn’t just write that.
Another thing to keep in mind…I don’t want to be Al Bundy. I am eternally grateful I didn’t peak in high school. I hope I haven’t peaked yet. I want to keep finding holes to fill, new things to learn and opportunities to improve. I look forward to getting better as time goes on. The work I do now, when it misses the mark, well, that was just a dry run. The brilliance has yet to be seen. Keep that in mind. Considering your potential, if you were “done” what a disappointment it would be!
Getting familiar with the rotten spot doesn’t mean we’ll grow to like it. We don’t have to settle there and become compost. It’s simply an acknowledgement of its existence. It’s a compass. It helps us know when we are coursing off track so we can make adjustments to find our way back to the sweet spot. The course correction is up to us. The corrections can be like a spiritual practice. Learning to just be. Learning to tap into that childlike wonder and not having expectations, while still maintaining standards.
If all else fails, you can always paint over it. In the words of some very accomplished artists…my best paintings are often over my worst paintings.
Live the Sweet Life,
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