10 Reasons your work doesn’t suck, 5 of 10

by / Tuesday, 06 August 2013 / Published in Inspiration

Reason 5: How do YOU know it sucks?

My tabla teacher said something to me once that I’ve never forgotten. He’s said several things I’ve never forgotten, in point of fact. This is just the one that fits now. My teacher’s teacher is a world-famous tabla player. I mentioned to my teacher that I loved one particular album of his – a live performance from the Dharbar Music Festival in the UK. “I just love this album, it’s so good.” My teacher stopped and turned to me and said,

“How do you know it’s good or not? You don’t know enough tabla yet to know what he’s doing, how he’s playing. You like it, sure, but you don’t know if it’s good or not. Not yet.”

To which I said, “Yeah, but it’s …uh …hmmm. Okay.”

Before you can really recognize good work – wood-working, cooking, music or graphic design – you have to consume enough to know the various flavours, styles, textures, whatever. You need to make comparisons between what didn’t work and what did, to know how far the gap between great and good is. Between good and mediocre is. And between what looks like crap, and the small tweak necessary to fix it. I can almost guarantee that the work you’ve done that you thought sucked, was actually one change away from being cool. Every so often, there’s a layout beyond hope – the image just won’t conform to this space, or the font is just not working but you’re stuck with it. We all get those. You just push through. But, the works you struggle with are never far from the path of good. A couple small steps to the right, and you’re back on.

As you get better at seeing the small gap between where you are and where you want to be, you’ll spend more time where you want to be. The path will be easier to see.

Your work is better than you think …you’re just giving up on it too quickly. Don’t worry, you’re doing it right. Half way to ten…

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