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  • Defeated by Craftsmanship

I am in awe of craftsmanship.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Ever seen a piece of furniture that you just have to look at from every angle? Or maybe someone hands you a pen and you begin to write a note or number and you pause mid-sentence to wonder at the very thing in your hand. It’s flawless. Or this doll maker. Or this chair. or this logo. or this song. or this.

Okay, I could go on, but you get my point. The thing that you know without question, the process was filled with passion and love. The iterations were probably numerous. The hours were endless and the craftswoman or craftsman is equally proud of what they’ve created. That. That’s what I’m talking about.

When I come face to face with that. I am inspired. My pulse quickens, a smile breaks over my face and I must know more. I want to hold it, understand it, experience it, hear it, taste it. It’s like a drug. It sends my head down wonderful rabbit holes of 'what ifs' and thoughts that I can’t usually capture fast enough. Craftsmanship can be this incredible catalyst for me.

But here’s the thing, in the very moment that it compels me, it defeats me. disheartens me. stalls me. Steven Pressfields “resistance” grabs hold and pulls me under, stifling any sense of progress or creativity.

Here’s how it plays out in my head:

Amazeballs! look at this incredible something. I’ve never seen something as awesome as this. Who did it? How did they do it? Of course. You know what would be awesome is this variation. Or that makes me think about this other thing. I need to write this down. It’s brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?

But then another line of thought kicks in:

Why? Because you’re average. Stop kidding yourself. You couldn’t have thought of that. You don’t have the time. You don’t have the dedication. You don’t follow these things through. You don’t have any original ideas.

And then what often happens is that I just move along. I move away. I hear the second voice that is much stronger and I just drop my head and get back to work.

I don't have solutions, however...

It doesn't have to stop there. I don't have to listen to that second voice. I don't have to listen to the response. Those statements are only true if I heed them. An alternative to defeat is resilience. So that's what I'm working on—using my stubbornness to fuel my creativity.

photo from Death to Stock by Zachery Elwart