Good work is enough
Attach to the act, not the result.
I recently stumbled upon a post in a group for creators on Facebook. We encourage and help each other to challenge ourselves to make stuff and create on YouTube.
A fellow member was sharing how he wasn’t happy about the way his channel was going. He was worried that the followers he amassed on his channel were taking his content in the wrong direction.
Is it right to worry about this? Or is it the wrong question to ask?
Why Am I Doing This?
When we create, when we put something out there, it’s a piece of art, it’s a piece of us. It must come from the internal, as opposed to external motivation.
Internal motivation is a form of motivation that fulfills an inner desire for achievement. External motivation, in contrast, ties to external validation such as attention, fame, money etc.
The focus must be clear at all times. You have to course correct regularly.
Imbalance of external vs. internal motivation can lead to impersistence and inability to complete tasks, especially in an area as scrutinized as creative work.
“What matters to an active man is to do the right thing; whether the right thing comes to pass shouldn’t bother him.”
— Wolfgang Goethe
I get there too sometimes. Balancing the internal and external is a game we strive to master all our lives. It’s the battle with ourselves, against our own egos.
I want and need to share my work. Otherwise, I wouldn’t finish it, hence wouldn’t make anything. But when I post online and get the feedback I ask for honestly, I catch myself drawn towards the wrong questions:
This seems to resonate with people, should I do more of this?
Maybe I should do more of that other thing?
Should I do what the other guy is doing?
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
I’m making something special. And it’s not for everyone, but it is for someone.
We need clarity. Seth Godin has said that the right thing to ask yourself whenever you make anything:
1. What’s it for?
2. Who’s it for?
If you answer these and stick to it, there is no way you find yourself hating what you’ve created. You might resent it over time, but that’s encouraged. As we grow, we should be embarrassed by our previous work. But never should we question why we did it.
Doing good work is enough.
The only way we can do good work and do it well is by doing just that. Doing good work is enough. The less attached we are to outcomes the better.
We cannot control the outcome. We determine the value of our work by doing it well.
What we can control is the action.
Originally published in The Startup on Medium.com.