Posts in Crave Coaching
Marvelous Human Mess

  When you make a mistake do you feel challenged to learn and adjust for the next time around, or do you admonish yourself and see it as a character defect? Or something in between?

I used to have a studio in a shipyard in the Bay Area. A variety of characters would pop in to see paintings in progress. Before they could say a word, within 30 seconds I had shown them all of the flaws in the painting. Luckily, the folks in the shipyard were artists and entrepreneurs. Their opinions of my work often took me by surprise. For many of them mistakes communicated entries into the imagination far faster than any conception or direction I may have had in mind.

One night I painted me dumping my head out of all its garbage into a recycle truck. My studio/office mate chuckled and asked if it worked. I told him that I believed that once I had nailed my character defects I would be a real painter. He said, "This isn't Miss America. Your character defects are what draw me into your paintings."

The nature of perfectionism assumes a law of order that is attainable if only we strive hard enough and become aware of anything that sullies it —  The battle of the lint of our imperfections can be intense.

I read a report card from my second grade teacher that she was concerned I would never be satisfied with an A+ — that I sought a grade higher not yet invented.

Creative practice during messy times has pummeled the perfectionist in me. When time is low and guilt is high and hungry deadlines persist, I've had to use the uglies in the work and make whatever is, oh, how to say this without cringing ... "good enough" ... yikes those words my toes curl.

By practicing imperfection I've grown fascinated by the human mess and standards by which the mess makes itself known. In particular the standard of perfectionism. Sheesh, where did that come from? The imperfections are so much more exciting. They give us more to discover and a wider array of materials to work with -- true adventure. Character defects make colors I have never seen. And isn't that true art? The expression of the tangled hairball of humanity is a painting I would buy over one that demonstrates perfect color theory.

Be proud of the marvelous human mess and make art of it.


Habits are Boring


I think about habit formation a lot.

I gather facts, I listen to podcasts, I study the psychology of habit making and heartbreaking habit diffusiveness at the start of a new year. I heard a stat the other day that our lives are comprised of 40% habit. These are the habits we don't know about. Brushing our teeth, getting up for work, etc. The auto-pilot habits.

But the habit discussions that are in fashion these days are the ones that improve our lives, bodies, health, relationships and productivity. There are many tricks to learning habits. Visual reminders to plan your day an hour in advance to get the gym, alarms to remind oneself of a commitment made to work on that novel.

I am bored just writing about it.

While making the transition to habit formation is not the most luxurious experience a person might have ... when the new habit is a disruption of ennui, inertia, being on autopilot, prioritizing tasks for others before yourself, trading what's important for what seems urgent in our 24/7 communications technology era ... it is then far from boring. More like how Jessie James must have felt in his first robbery. Like he got away with something and can't believe he is not dead.

My experience of creating a successful new habit engages many aspects of what makes happiness. It begins with a vision. What would amaze me if I got away with it and it didn't hurt my life? What if I did it a lot and my life grew as a result? What if on the days I didn't want to do it, I did it anyway because I am training my mind and body -- creating a new story and memory that undergirds precious resources and energy?

These days when I swim, I still feel the same. I can't believe I have created a habit of being in water intensively 4 times a week for the past 16 years. It has changed my life and health in ways I cannot begin to count. Yet, what gets me through the boring part of the habit is that the pay off over time exceeds the resistance. It's never boring -- It's different every time. Painting habits are the same. The water is in my brush vs. swimming in it. Expressing the water on a substrate -- It feels good, so I keep coming back to it. But there was a time when it was boring. I just had to do it frequently enough to get to the good stuff. Motivation was key. This habit was mine to make for no other reason than I love it.

Should's don't work in habit making and life transformation.

The reason habit formation is encouraged in 'frequency' is because the more we do it the more momentum it gathers and creates a life of its own. How proud a person feels to know that they succeeded in the creation of a habit that is true to who they are that they can access at any time. Quality of life and health amplifies. The sky is the limit after that.

Not so boring after all.


Postscript: The doggie in this illustration clearly gets it and is training her owner.