Specificity

It’s been a wild past few days, with my email server down, my home network screwing up, my son and family moving to another state, and clients falling all over themselves with unreasonable requests. But I have missed you, my dear blog!

All the craziness – especially suddenly and completely losing control over communications – has put me in mind of another essential creativity principle. It goes like this. We’ve already looked at the willingness to surrender control as a basis of creative practice. But it’s really not supportable to continue human existence without some small sense of personal power. So the way we hang on in tumultuous times is through specificity.

In the art world, it’s often said that art resides in the particular, never in the general. General expressions miss their target completely; the more specific an expression, the more impact it can have.

Somehow during the chaos of the past few days, I managed to watch a wonderful TED video with Amy Tan, focusing on this examination of details as the foundation of her creative output. Especially if you’ve ever read her fiction, you’ll delight in her self-revelation and wisdom here.

‘The devil’s in the details’ when you have a big idea and then try to collect the specifics to make it happen. Your committment to the fine points must be as avid as your passion for the goal. A huge amount of business success is simply left to die on the vine because of lack of passion for the details.

But especially in times of confusion, when big ideas elude you and control slips away; or times of emptiness, when direction and excitement are lacking, a focus on the particulars can bring extraordinary inspiration. No good ideas for marketing? Turn your thinking to the minutia of customer’s interaction with your product. Worried about potential recession and not sure what to do about it? Take an in-depth look at any one aspect of your business and figure out how to be more efficient there. Burned out and wondering if this is all she wrote about your life? Reserve a small amount of time in your day for playing with any small reality that holds attraction for you, letting the experience of that play inform you about yourself. When life hands you lemons, instead of tossing them away as insulting and useless, consider their particular gifts and put to good use their virtues!

In short, as the winds of change wreak havoc on your plans, you can find solace and power in the intense, personal, passionate appreciation of the tiny realities of the moment; you can weather the storm if you’re willing to align with the trivial!

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