Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tools & Crutches

As we strive to "keep the goal the goal", sometimes we forget that equipment, supplements, routines, poundages, percentages, and stopwatches are just "stuff". The "stuff" might be related to our goals, but they are NOT the goals.

Hugh MacLeod calls this stuff "pillars". Enjoy.

Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity

Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on a piece of ordinary stationery that he had borrowed from the friend whose house he was staying at.

Ernest Hemingway wrote with a simple fountain pen. Somebody else did the typing, but only much later.

Van Gogh rarely painted with more than six colors on his palette.

I draw on the back of small business cards. Whatever.

There's no correlation between creativity and equipment ownership. None. Zilch. Nada.

Actually, as the artist gets more into her thing, and she gets more successful, the number of tools tends to go down. She knows what works for her. Expending mental energy on stuff wastes time. She's a woman on a mission. She's got a deadline. She's got some rich talent breathing down her neck. The last thing she wants is to spend three weeks learning how to use a router drill if she doesn't need to.

A fancy tool just gives her a second-rater one more pillar to hide behind.

Which is why there are so many hack writers with state-of-the-art laptops.

Which is why there are so many crappy photographers with state-of-the-art laptops.

Which is why there are so many unremarkable painters with expensive studios in trendy neighborhoods.

Hiding behind pillars, all of them.

Pillars do not help; they hinder. The more mighty the pillar, the more you end up relying on it psychologically, the more it gets in your way.

And this applies to business as well.

Which is why there are so many failing businesses with fancy offices.

Which is why there are so many failing businesses spending a fortune on fancy suits and expensive yacht club memberships.

Again, hiding behind pillars.

Successful people, artists and nonartists alike, are very good at  spotting pillars. They're very good at doing without them. Even more important, once they've spotted a pillar, they're very good at quickly getting rid of it.

Good pillar management is one of the most valuable talents you can have on the planet. If you have it, I envy you. If you don't, I pity you.

Sure, nobody's perfect. We all have our pillars. We seem to need them. You are never going to live a pillar-free existence. Neither am I.

All we can do is keep asking the question, "Is this a pillar?" about every aspect of our business, our craft, our reason for being alive, and go from there...

- Hugh MacLeod (Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity, pp. 43-45)


Boris Terzic said...

Great read, and very true. Tool are very useful but can easily hinder when we can't train without them.

Boris said...

Thanks Boris. The book is a very easy read and has some good insights (though perhaps commonsensical).

Boris Terzic said...

Boris, common sense is a rare commodity these days. People have gone beyond the simple and effective to advanced and convoluted all for the sake of "progress."

Boris said...

Well said Boris. I agree.