Archive for the ‘making mistakes’ Category
And get yourself a steadfast interlocutorMaking mistakes is the point with Dumb Sketch Daily. And it is the point with writing every day. And it is the point with moving forward quickly with client work. Progress happens only as we make mistakes. And often we only realize it was a mistake—or at least somehow fallen short of our dream—when we present our rough sketch to someone else. That’s why it is important to have steadfast interlocutors in our lives. Those ongoing conversations with people we trust help us see what is what, which helps us see how to do something differently, which is what progress looks like. Teachers and professors and authors (and spouses!) can be great conversation partners as we stumble toward some goal.
I am learning to make mistakes in more media. Yesterday I commented on some quick sketches by an artist in Quebec, how simple they were and how definitive.
“It’s easy,” she said. “Just sketch the people you see on TV.”
“Not so easy,” I replied. “I do that as well, but my sketches turn out fussy and juvenile. And ugly. And sometimes I despair at how bad they remain.”
“Well, I do 12 sketches before I get the one I really like.”
I found that encouraging because she is quite accomplished. And of course we all know this is true. One need only think on Philip Glass or Hemingway to gain a bit of perspective.
The more time we commit to the thing, the more mistakes we make, the more we progress. But mistakes are part of the process. As far as I can tell, making mistakes in pursuit of our passion is the only way forward.
Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston
What to do: Engage colleagues or just put up with them?
Between David Rock and David Bohm there is a lot of good advice about helping people have productive conversations. Rock’s “Quiet Leadership” is all about helping your friend find the answer she already knows, which is particularly useful for folks with leadership responsibilities. Bohm, on the other hand, was an omni-thinking physicist with deep curiosity about ordinary life connections. Bohm (and Rock, for that matter) are two of my conversational heroes.
Here’s Bohm on how it is that something new gets created between two people (italics added):
Consider a dialogue. In such a dialogue, when one person says something, the other person does not in general respond with exactly the same meaning as that seen by the first person. Rather, the meanings are only similar and not identical. Thus, when the second person replies, the first person sees a difference between what he meant to say and what the other person understood. On considering the difference, he may then be able to see something new, which is relevant both to his own views and to those of the other person. And so it can go back and forth, with the continual emergence of a new content. That is common to both participants. Thus, in a dialogue, each person does not attempt to make common certain ideas or items of information that are already known to him. Rather, it may be said that the two people are making something in common, i.e., creating something new together.
–David Bohm, On Dialogue (New York: Routledge, 1996)
Every day affords some catalyzing opportunity, often hidden in a very ordinary exchange.
How will you leap in to catalyze today?
Dumb Sketch/Timed Gesture: Kirk Livingston
Don’t stunt your growth by reaching for fame
It’s funny we gauge personal success by numbers of followers. It’s as if we’ve adopted the business transaction as a model for every area of our lives.
Business wants more eyeballs for more attention for more revenue for more profit. And that makes perfect sense for our business goals.
What’s problematic is when we confuse business with what humans need to move forward: Doing what attracts attention and gathers “Likes” is often very different from the stuff our souls need to grow.
One thing I’m learning from the artists and photographers I’ve been interacting with at Dumb Sketch Daily (currently at bad drawing #78) is that while today’s drawing is (clearly) imperfect, there is always tomorrow’s drawing. And I know what I’ll do different in that drawing. I know I’ll try this technique, or that view, or this topic. I’ll do it again and create yet another imperfect representation of the world.
And that’s OK.
Because the pursuit is about learning to see, learning how to draw, learning how to write. Learning how to tell the truth. Learning how to interact with each other. Learning how to be human. Perhaps even learning how to interact with God.
The goal is not fame, unless you really want to turn this pursuit into a business. But learning itself—whether crowds acknowledge you or whether you plod silently and alone—learning is its own reward.
But I still argue your growth is also a benefit to the humans around you.
And while I don’t think 78 bad sketches have changed my life, I can say with certainty that I see things differently than I did 78 days ago.
Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston
The Beauty of Knowing Nothing
I don’t have a fine-tuning mode that tinkers with physical detail. I draw and it is mostly crude. I cut plywood and pine shelves and they are rough enough to make my craftsman-father scoff into his hand. I make dinner and it is mostly broad-stroke stuff that requires very little finessing. I will confess my popcorn is a work of art, combining yellow and white kernels, salted and buttered and mixed to a sensuous, savory smack of flavor. And I am learning how words interact on a page—though it is slow going.
How does someone get to the point of crafting from rough cuts to fine finished detail? It is possible that in this age of ordering clothes, pizza and romance from a button on our mobile devices, that some things still take time. Some things require beginning at the beginning. The question for each of us: do I have the courage to begin at the beginning? To know nothing for a time and do things badly?
The beauty about not having been taught drawing is that you are in a position of the acquirer: the process of figuring it out might take a while, and you will most likely continue to figure stuff out as you go, but that process is yours. There are no shortcuts and no tricks. Just the plain practice of drawing, screwing up, and drawing some more.
–France Belleville-Van Stone in Sketch! (NY: Watson-Guptill, 2014)
You cannot buy personal processes. Not really. You have to make them from scratch—those processes that help you make meaning in the world. And you have to begin at the beginning.
Mistake will be made.
You will make those mistakes.
And that’s OK.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston