As an entrepreneur, you are a creator. You take ideas and turn them into reality. Whether you view your industry as creative or not, your business, your brand and your impact never existed until you created it. That said, as an entrepreneur, the process of creation is never easy, and many times we are disappointed in our results.
Have you ever had a great idea that is crystal clear in your head? You can visualize the concept in all its glory, and it is beautiful. In fact, you are so excited about it that you are driven to start putting that idea to paper immediately, to breathe life into it, and make it real. You had such high hopes.
And then…then… things go horribly wrong. Somehow on the way from your mind onto the page something went awry. Your beautiful creation comes out looking like a troll.
The work is an abomination, you feel dirty. Showers are taken, prayers are said, and it is left locked in a drawer or in a file on your computer where it hopefully dies or disappears, and you pretend like you had nothing to do with the monstrosity.
Unfortunately, at some point, you realize that the work has to be finished and you begrudgingly go back to see what you can make of your disaster. You put on your scrubs, don the surgical mask, and pull on your surgical gloves.
It’s time to save the patient. Cue the drill sounds and bone saws, “I NEED MORE SUCTION!” This is triage at its best. At some point, the patient flat lines. “BEEEEEEEEEEP!” You grab the defibrillators and charge the paddles. Everything goes quiet, then…..”BEEP, BEEP.” Finally you stumble out of the ER, quietly sobbing, sweating, exhausted, but the work is complete.
Your project has had enough plastic surgery to become tolerable and you have submitted it, ready to move on to the next project.
It’s a terrible feeling, you feel like a fraud. You are disappointed, and you debate ever trying something like this again. At least, this is how I feel.
If you have ever tried to create something, then you can identify with the feeling of falling way, I mean WAY, short of your own standards. This feeling can drive you crazy. How can you be so passionate, knowledgeable and dedicated to building something that you clearly have no capability creating? You might feel like giving up or throwing in the towel.
But wait; there is a reason why you cannot seem to live up to your own expectations. It’s because you are not yet good enough to perform at the level you enjoy or have developed a taste for. Like a foodie, who knows the finest exotic foods, and can list the herbs in a dish, but cannot boil an egg. If you want to get good, it is going to take some time, effort and practice.
Malcom Gladwell identifies what he calls the 10,000-hour rule in his book Outliers (A great book if you want to check it out). The rule claims that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. At that time, someone has finally developed the specific skills and knowledge necessary to perform in that field at the highest level.
What you struggle with is that while you are building those 10,000 hours of experience, your work is nothing like the professional work that you enjoy consuming. Frankly, your work seems lousy when compared to others. The key is not to give up, to understand that it will be a journey getting from where you are, to where you want to be. You don’t have to settle for substandard work, but you have to realize that it will take time for you to get as good as you desire to be.
Ira Glass is a radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show “This American Life” on NPR. He has a great quote that captures this, the challenge between taste and ability. You can watch the video here or read the quote below.
The bottom line is that you can’t let your good taste get in the way of your learning and development. You need to put in the time to grow as a creator, as an entrepreneur, and develop the stomach to deal with your own limited abilities as you put in the work to get to the level of performance you want. As you put in the time, the gap between what you have a taste for and what you actually make will shrink.
So don’t give up, the journey is worth the pain!
Make your own path.