From times immemorial, ever since the formal schooling system has been in place, we have always been pegged at how great or not we are in a classroom. So if you were like me, you probably had a rank in class. A rank in the subjects that you studied and then overall. Throughout your school year, you had the opportunity to improve the rank, to get better or to maintain it.
But life isn’t about relative successes. Life doesn’t rank you.
Life couldn’t care two hoots if you were more successful than your neighbour or your sister or your father at that age or your spouse. Life is lived in absolutes. You can only be better than how you were before this and that scale has no bearing on what anybody else is doing.
We have all been made to believe that those who’ve created astonishing works of art or created something extraordinary were cut from a different cloth. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There is a possibility that they had some bit of innate talent.
As Robin Sharma says, “Dedication and discipline beats brilliance and giftedness every day.”
This post is dedicated to figuring out how you can elevate your craft. If you are reading this, I am going to go out on a limb and assume that dedication and discipline is something that you’ve tried to do, but at times been unable to stick with.
The good news is that- it’s not that difficult to stick to it.
The bad news- it is the only way to improve your craft.
Let me share with you my practice. Maybe that can help.
I start with a prayer before I put pen to paper.
“I am grateful. I am forgiving. My life is beautiful, creative, magical, productive and prosperous.”
I say it till I feel it. I say it in my mind with my eyes closed, my hands resting anywhere they feel comfortable. There are some days that I don’t feel it and there are some days that I get goose bumps. On any kind of day, just try to feel it as much as you can. And then start your work.
- Believe in your greatness and the largesse of your craft. Silently. It is not something that you shout from the rooftops. Often external energies interfere with your path. Once you have the belief in place (the prayer feeds into this), sincerely and rigorously go at it.
- The difference between a good piece and a great piece is sometimes one brush stroke, one chapter, or one curve or just imagination. As you come closer to perfection, your brain kicks in by telling you that you’ve done well, it is time to rest. This is that time when you suddenly feel the need to check your phone or respond to a text that has been sitting in your inbox for hours. This is that time when suddenly your brain is trying to distract you. Don’t get distracted. Finish what you were doing. The distance between good to great, is just that. Don’t stop mid way.
- Limit accessibility to yourself in your productive time. Tell your stakeholders that you will reply to emails, texts or any communication only between 12- 1pm during the day and 7-8pm in the evening. This frees you from what’s happening at large in the universe and keeps you focused on the actual work.
I am a writer. I am besieged by self doubt very often. I often feel there isn’t enough depth or enough breadth. But I don’t stop. I keep writing. That is the only way to elevate my craft.
*This post is inspired by the literature of The 5AM Club.