I get derailed by other people’s feedback

Reins & Blinders


The Context

Einstein is often quoted for saying, he who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. This is a profound insight when it applies to our relationship with our surroundings. But when it comes to our relationship with our work, pausing to wonder can actually work against us. Because into that vacuum, the ego pours. In the creative process, when we start casting our thumbs up or down as a verdict of our ideas too early, it often delays and derails and even destroys our motivation. We condemn ourselves to insecurity.

The Tool

two color

Reins & Blinders

REINS & BLINDERS — Using restraint as the quiet backbone of your creative habit

Restraint. This is the quiet backbone of the creative habit. Write with your heart, edit with your mind, as a friend of mine loves to say. Work so fast that you won't have time to evaluate it until it's done. It can feel difficult to restrain yourself at first, but once you see how surprised you are at the results when your art is unimpeded by early evaluation, you'll train yourself to keep your head down. Debono's powerful framework for parallel thinking calls this the black hat. It's when we use discernment and logic to identify the practical and realistic implications of our idea. It's essentially being the devil's advocate, spotting the difficulties and dangers of where the idea might go wrong. His research on creativity showed that it's probably the most powerful and useful type of parallel thinking in our repertoire, but it can also become problem if overused.

Scott's Take

Scott's Take

Many of my friends are artists, and it breaks my heart if they get infatuated with the imperfect details of their unfinished projects. They'll get a third or halfway through something, and out comes that cursed red pen. Worse yet, they start asking friends and family for validation of feedback on their progress. But very little good comes out of this. People are just begging for their hearts to take a beating and their ideas to come out stillborn. It's like taking a pie out of the oven too early. Just because it's risen, doesn't mean it's cooked in the middle. And just because you're hungry and excited, doesn't mean it's ready to eat.

The Rest

In the early stages of our creative process, our minds should enter a more freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas. That comes later. Way later. Right now, focus on writing with your heart and not editing with your mind. Keep your head down and keep your foot on the gas. There will be plenty of time for the judgmental axe to fall later. What if you worked so fast that you didn't have time to evaluate your work?

The Benefits

Stay focused on what’s in front of you despite distractions and feedback
Work so fast that you won’t have time to evaluate your output
Make high amounts of work unimpeded by early evaluation
Create from your heart without editing with your mind

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