✱ Back to Work

Following is a short transcript from my favorite podcast - "Back to Work" (iTunes link) by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin. The text sums up just how hard it is to really do something creative. I can directly apply this to my architectural design career. It's easy to design. Chew on this: it's incredibly hard to design something incredible. Not only that, but make that 'incredible' thing that's in a 3d model or in a sketch into something that other people actually get to experience and not get incredibly screwed up and compromised along the way to becoming an actual building. 

I see compromises by every single team member. I's usually driven by whatever is easiest... whatever gets the fire put out the quickest so the damn thing can continue. It's at these points along the way that the final product is less and less like the original vision. All of this is because great design and architecture takes such an immense amount of time and coordination, and because it's just really hard. These projects take years to complete, sometimes decades. And because people don't see that all of those compromises add up over time and dull the blade. Too often we are stuck in the moment and not looking at the overall vision. This is not design.

It's times like these when I can actually visualize my desire to build something in an uncompromising way. I can actually visualize how hard it is. And the truth is that I want to take it on. I want to fight the fight to build the original idea. To build the vision. I want to work in a place where every team member has the balls to actually make something amazing. Believe me - it takes some serious guts to make something great. It's easy to make buildings. But those buildings are not architecture.

Thanks Merlin. This is what it's all about.

The closer we get to the thing we really want, the more resistance we will feel. We will feel some force pushing us away, the closer we get to some thing we think we really want. And for a lot of us that could be writing. Let’s be honest: it is not that hard to write. It’s not really that hard to type. It’s really hard to make something good when you’re writing.

It’s not that hard to do anything, really. But the problem is, if you start really, actually doing it instead of thinking about it, instead of, like, polishing your beret, if you actually start doing it? It’s scary. It’s scary - not to be a writer, anybody can call themselves a writer - it’s scary to write. And if you don’t believe that, ask yourself why so many people who try to do it all the time have such a problem sitting down and typing. And it’s not because typing is hard, it’s because getting close to that thing is scary.

Now is that related to fear of success? Maybe … because I think it still represents fear of change. People don’t like external stuff being forced on them, but they’re also not great at doing it themselves. Most of us tend to think that glass is always gonna be sitting there ready to have milk poured in it. Well, that glass is temporarily unbroken and your life is temporarily unbroken. So enjoy what it is for now, because change is not something that’s negotiable. And I think once you accept that, and once you accept the true, gut-wrenching scariness of the fact that you don’t have that much control over that much stuff, something like sitting down to write suddenly seems a lot easier than it used to.

The fear is what keeps us scurrying to familiar problems. I think most of us would rather have familiar fear than the potential of an alien anxiety. Fear is going, “There’s a bear out there!” And anxiety is going, “There might be a bear out there. Sometime.” Anxiety is based not in a thing that’s there right now and threatening you, it’s based on your own amount of reluctance to confront whether there really is something there. … When you fear fear itself then everything becomes scary because everything is alien, everything represents change, and everything represents a threat.