When I saw my friend recently in Los Angeles, she showed me her art studio. I was like a kid in the candy store as she gave me free reign for an afternoon to create whatever I wanted.
She suggested I work on a collage, since she had tons of magazines, and it was something that wouldn’t need a long dry time before I headed off to my next destination on my trip up the coast.
As we chatted about something art-related, I shared an idea of something she could consider pursuing. She casually mentioned, “No, that idea wouldn’t work for me. I can’t do faces.”
That simple statement had such a huge impact on me: She’s been to design school and is a respected artist; her work has been beamed up on the big screen in Times Square and featured in respected juried showings.
And yet, she sucks at painting faces.
She sucks at painting faces and I suck at meticulous projects. Like knitting, for example. I’ve learned to knit three times but can’t seem to find the precision in my application to not drop a stitch. My projects come out looking like crooked, lopsided messes with knots tied throughout.
My mind is unstructured, so I do best with unstructured art mediums. Like collaging, where I put together pieces of images until they form into something. There are also collagists who are meticulous collagists, putting together tens of thousands of tiny bits of paper or words cuts from magazines until they form into a cat or an airplane. This would be the worst project for me to consider tackling. There is no question mine would not only not look like a cat or an airplane, and I would likely give up a third of the way through in frustration.
Understanding that you don’t have to be good at what you assume all people are good at who engage in your specialty or craft is big.
It will set you free to make the choices that are right for you — whether that’s which client to work with, which project to pursue or what to delegate in your business.
Instead of feeling inadequate, I recommend instead that you make four lists or draw a rectangle and divide it into four squares:
- Things I’m great at that I enjoy
- Things I’m great at but don’t enjoy
- Things I’m not great at but still enjoy
- Things I’m not great at and don’t enjoy
It’s pretty obvious where to focus your energy and attention, right? Things you’re great at and that you enjoy. While the other choices may have a place in your business or your life, spending time on things you’re not good at is inefficient, and spending time on things that aren’t joyful is an energy drain.
What if you allowed yourself to be bad at certain things and that didn’t need to be any different than it is? What would be possible for you if you chose joyful greatness?