Maria and I had a business question once and we called a friend for advice. Our friend is a member of SCORE, an organization of retired business executives who provide free business mentoring. He referred us to another SCORE member who, well, let's just say that he's had an illustrious career and you've all heard of or used one or more of his creations. This gentleman was kind enough to come to our home for lunch and spend a few hours with us.
We don't remember if we ever got our question answered because we don't remember what our question was! But what we do remember is getting a shift in perspective. After talking with him, we began to frame our choices within a larger perspective. For instance, we still remember his questions, "What do you want to be doing in ten years . . . in twenty years?" Those are important questions that are easily lost in moment to moment urgencies.
But the advice we remember most of all, and one that we refer to time and again, was from his story of visiting an office of the space agency of the then Soviet Union. He described a cyrillic quote above the entrance to the space agency that translated, "Don't let better tyrannize good enough." (At least that's how we remember his story.)
This morning at breakfast I was reading a blog and its author, quoting Voltaire, wrote "The perfect is the enemy of the good."
"Maria," I said, "That's where his quote must have come from!"
We got talking about how a concept of perfection blocks so many people from enjoying something because of fears they couldn't do it perfectly. And what if you did create a perfect something? What a devious curse that would be for everything that followed!
Maria joked, "If you didn't try to create art because you thought it wouldn't be perfect, well, get in line!"
Then I looked up Voltaire's original quote. He actually said, Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien. "Better is the enemy of good." How many of us don't do something because we think someone else does it better, or we "should" do it better?
When we teach a Zentangle class, we always remind people to focus on what they are doing and not to compare it with others. We encourage each person to appreciate and enjoy putting pen to paper and to focus on each individual stroke without worrying about how the final result will appear.
With Zentangle, there's no need to allow "better" (or even worse, "perfection") to hold you back from the "good" of enjoying putting pen to paper . . . one stroke at a time.
We are ever so grateful that we have never seen a perfect Zentangle!