I recently wrote about how being perennially dissatisfied can fuel us toward continuous improvement and growth.
There is however a catch. The dissatisfaction could lead to disappointment rather than enthusiasm. I’ll address how to avoid that in this post.
Some years ago, I watched an interview with the always-in-the-news Elon Musk. Here’s one part of the interview that stood out for me:
The reporter asked: “When you see a Tesla car, what do you see?”
Elon’s answer: “I see the flaws. The many things that need improvement.”
Now let’s assume you were the proud owner of a new Tesla and a friend pointed out a list of *genuine* problems with the car, how would you feel?
Most people would probably get defensive. And maybe a bit angry too 🙂
So, there’s a contrast here. While the owners of the vehicles seem attached to the cars, the creator seems detached.
Here’s the process:
Step 1: As a builder, you invest your creative energy with enthusiasm. And create something beautiful.
Step 2: You then switch sides to become your own critic. And then actively seek even more feedback and criticism from others.
Step 3: You show up at work the next day with enthusiasm to work on your creation again.
Step 2 is hard. Step 3 is harder. However, unless we can get good at this process, we can’t go very far.
Here are 4 key ingredients that can fuel us in the right direction:
- Acceptance: You will never be done. You will always see scope for improvement. What you created isn’t perfect. And it never will be. “Perfect” is a verb…not a noun.
- Be grateful for the progress made: You’re here today, because of what you got done yesterday. You showed up. You did great work. You made a difference.
- It’s not your creation: Once it’s out there, it’s not yours anymore. You’ve given it away. For the world to consume. It’s now theirs, not yours. You were an instrument, a conduit that helped make it happen.
- Remember you have control: If you could show up yesterday, you can do it again today. And tomorrow. And make it better. And better.
“But why go through all that in the first place?”
If that’s your question, you may find this short interview (with the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson) useful.