Posted at 11:01h
I wonder if there is any human on earth who doesn’t have this kind of pressure:
…the nerve of facing a perfect blank white canvas, being afraid of making a mess.
…the pressure of entering a meeting room, joining a brainstorm session, trying to contribute an appropriate idea.
…the hesitation of starting a new project, of trying out a new hobby, thinking that we may not be able to follow it through.
This article is for those who are feeling this kind of pressure every day, with a scary message: let’s focus our energy on making a mess, not perfection.
Messiness is a (huge) part of the creative process
To be honest, not just in a creative process, it is a part of every process.
We all have to deal with a cluster of data before getting it all together to form an actionable insight.
We all experience a table full of flour here and there, tins, spoons, and ingredients laying out everywhere before we have that beautiful bread sitting in the oven.
We have piles of fragmented ideas in the note-taking applications before a comprehensive article be published – or sometimes we toss it for more suitable, impactful content. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I find it rather unfair to call that beautiful process a mess, just because it is unclear, undefined yet. But as I haven’t found a better for it, let’s just call it “a beautiful mess” – which should not be mistaken for Jason Mraz’s song.
Why we are so uncomfortable with being messy
The antonym of ‘messy’, in this case, is not ‘organized’ or ‘clean’. It is ‘perfect’.
Whether it is an unrealistic standard that we set for ourselves (and our works) or it is the fear being seen as “imperfect” that makes us scared of making a mess, it sure holds us back from having creative confidence.
“Think about how kids play: They don’t think, they just do. And if the whole contraption comes crashing to the floor, they laugh at the mess and start over. (Or throw a fit, but hey, they’re learning about emotion, too!)” (Ideo Blog)
It is because they know no standard – or don’t even care if there is one. They also don’t have a concept of self-image. And because of that, they are free to be creative. They are free to be as messy as they can and to learn from their trials and errors.
We don’t learn from getting something right.
We learn from getting it wrong so many times.
Let’s embrace the beautiful mess
Not like kids, as we have learned grown-up stuff, we experienced standards and setbacks, it might not come naturally to us to just make a mess and forget about everything else.
We all got that tension already, now we need to learn to loosen it up first.
At IDEO, a design company that created the first usable computer mouse for Apple, introduces a warm-up practice to get team members to release perfectionism tension in the brainstorming sessions called The Really Bad Ideas Brainstorm. Instead of trying to contribute with good-to-great ideas, all the team members focus on producing the weirdest, most hilarious, seemingly impossible ideas. By doing so, we can lift the pressure and lean towards getting the creative juice flow while at the same time, gain insights from those weird ideas.
After all, we just wanna have fun, and so does our creativity.
Recommended activities for getting messy