Lower Your Standards
Brené Brown. Adam Grant. Glennon Doyle. Tim Ferriss. Sara Blakely. Elon Musk. Carlie Lloyd. Lebron James. Oprah. Sting. Prince. Pink. Ye. Global giants in their craft. Sure, they’re inspiring, but when we only use them as inspiration, we run the risk of being the imposter to their accolades, stuck in a perpetual state of daydreams and Pinterest boards instead of actually doing something about it.
The great poet William Stafford reminded his students often with, "You've got to lower your standards. You can't compare yourself with the most renowned writers in the history of literature."
Indeed. Early on, we’re not one step away from being great, let alone being a pro, so don't concern yourself with what the Beatles did exactly, or what Cathie Wood’s precise path was, or what Toni Morrison wrote when. The exact trails our heroes took are now cold. Anyway, a path is only a path in retrospect. It can't be copied.
No matter how fired up you are to emulate your heroes, making a name for yourself will at some point be you crossing a foreign expanse, waiting for someone to react to what you're doing.
And it's hard to do it alone.
Your job is to find peers and allies who can give you support and feedback so you can keep each other moving forward.
Because to do what you dream of someday you’ll first have to convince yourself to create and share a little more today (that’s what the greats all had to do too). Post. Submit. Write. Produce. Edit. Tweak.
That's the only thing that matters.
8 years ago I wrote, inspiration is only as good as the action it stirs. I might adjust that last bit to: the sustained action it stirs, because it’s fine to get a little jolt from the pictures on your wall, but a defibrillator is only as useful as the heartbeat it kick starts. Otherwise, it's "all zap and no go”; just ephemeral lightning bolts on the horizon.
Ditch your heroes if their success has you frozen. Surround yourself with your contemporaries. Be each other’s inspiration. Take action. Seek input. Here’s to your process and your “band.” Keep making that music, that sustained drumbeat of creation.