Lose Yourself

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Updated November 3, 2022

You’re reading an excerpt of Creative Doing, by Herbert Lui. 75 practical techniques to unlock creative potential in your work, hobby, or next career. Purchase now for instant, lifetime access to the book.

Let go of your external expectations. Immerse yourself in the task at hand.

Bono wrote about Frank Sinatra, “Fully inhabiting the moment during that tiny dot of time after you’ve pressed ‘record’ is what makes it eternal. If, like Frank, you sing it like you’ll never sing it again. If, like Frank, you sing it like you never have before.” This philosophy is applicable to your craft; you can pretend like it’s the last time you’re doing your work, the last chance you might be able to contribute to this piece of work. This immersion naturally lets expectations, hopes, and fears fade away; none of it matters. Treating your work like a craft will help you let go of external measures of quality and focus on what’s in front of you. Everything else is an unnecessary distraction.

Whenever a thought of comparison comes across your mind, notice it, and then let go. If you catch yourself ruminating about it, tap it away like a feather duster cleaning a glass and bring your mind back to whatever you are doing. As composer, band leader, and saxophonist Charlie Parker said, “Don’t play the saxophone. Let it play you.”

Or flip this prompt: Make Them Curious

Enjoy the Plateau

Mastering any skill, including all forms of creative work, means spending a lot of time moving forward slowly. The spurts of growth are very occasional, perhaps even rare. Instead, day in and day out, we are working. We are practicing. “At the heart of it, mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path,” writes martial artist and author George Leonard.

Make your practice enjoyable. Don’t obsess over improving, or whether someone else is better or worse than you in some way. Stay focused on your own skill set and craft. Perhaps it means changing your environment or schedule. It could also mean switching the routine or the sources of inspiration.

If you find yourself wrestling with metrics such as likes, shares, and comments, check out why three creators ignore the stats and some alternate ways of measuring success. You can also choose to set a mission for your work.

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