Consistent Steps and Strokes

Day 23 Week 4 Q1  Monday, January 23, 2023

Have you ever found yourself a considerable distance from where you started with no heroic effort involved? Like the days I found myself out of sight of land two miles out in the ocean in a kayak, simply taking one stroke at a time for a half hour.  It was a real eye-opener for someone who was constitutionally much more like a rabbit than a turtle.  While racing around this way and that, I had never somehow never realized the power of slow and steady. I was an adrenalin junkie in general, doing everything as quickly as I could. Being a sprinter on the track team, I had never admired those marathoners. Sure I knew, as did everyone, the story of the tortoise and the hare, but as a speedster myself, I never took it to heart. I was deadline driven, and suppose to some degree, still am.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed that sometimes slowpokes passed me by, and some of them did really excellent work. And that, in fact, some things like graduate theses and dissertations, writing books, or symphonic works were long-haul propositions. And that although there was a lot of smoke when metaphorically burning rubber that it only produced smoke, not traction.

So, although you may be impatient, as many outliers are, try to remember that consistency generally wins out over bursts of speed and as creative outliers who, at times, seemingly burst forth with outpourings at great velocity, there are still rewrites, editing, reviews, feedback integration, rejection, redoing prior work and basically that excellence does require more of a slow and steady, or at least consistent approach.  I do hate to admit this, having done my fair share of shortcuts, like taking the advanced course without prerequisites or simply skipping lots of steps and vaulting to the end.  

However, as has been pointed out to me, even when accomplishing something in what seems like an extraordinarily short amount of time, I had, in fact, begun working in my mind on whatever the project was a long time earlier in my mind. You see, creativity does actually require gestation, and not all of it is conscious. In fact, most of it probably is not.  

Therefore, when you are feeling impatient, as I am most of the time, remind yourself that consistent, steady steps and strokes are actually on the critical path toward completing anything. Yes, television has this annoying tendency to make light of how hard it is to do anything at all. And being suggestible beings who sometimes delight in escape, we sometimes tend toward unreasonable expectations, especially when it comes to the level of effort and the time it takes to do anything. Have you ever noticed that characters in television programs sometimes go for weeks without ever eating anything and for years or entire seasons without ever going to the bathroom? Or that no one ever had to clean up anything?

Completion takes a lot of time, and there are a lot of unglamorous steps. But over time, you learn to integrate the unobvious and the not-very-fast-moving into your workflow.  Or if you do not, then it is not very likely you will complete anything wonderful.  

Patience can convert a speedster into a marathoner, and in fact, it must if you ever strive for excellence.

One step at a time.