More To That

Good enough is just fine 👏

Published 5 months ago • 4 min read

Hey friends,

My flagship course, Thinking In Stories, opens up for enrollment next Monday, October 9th. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be sending a series of big emails to the course waitlist on the following topics:

  • How to draw people toward your work without sacrificing your integrity
  • How transforming your ideas into stories livens up the creative process
  • How to think beyond traditional storytelling techniques and use more applicable tools

I have a lot to share, so if you’re on the waitlist, you’ll hear from me soon.

In addition, I will be hosting a free workshop next Thursday, October 12th, at 10 AM PT. It’s called How to Frame Your Story (So People Care), and I’ll be sharing a practical tool you can use to present the central point of your story.

This is a key framework in the Thinking In Stories method, and is one that you’ll find throughout my own work as well. Simply click the button below to register, and you’ll get access to the storytelling emails I described above as well:

All right! Now that the spirit of storytelling is running through you, let’s move on to the story I’d like to share with you today.

Last week, I shared a piece on making classics, not content. While the vast majority of feedback was positive, there is one point I feel compelled to clarify.

The thing about creating a personal “classic” is that it often requires significant energy to do so. And while its quality could be outstanding, the problem is that the grubby hands of perfectionism might take hold and make you question everything you’ve done.

So in today’s throwback post, I wanted to shine a light on how embracing consistency is also an important part of the equation. There’s a careful balance you have to walk between quality and quantity, and much of it is defined by how well you can manage your relationship with self-doubt.

When you’re ready, let’s dive right in:

Good Enough Is Just Fine

Instead of the usual stuff I put in the newsletter, I’ll be putting the opening sections of today’s story below. If you enjoy it, feel free to share it with your friends, family, or audience.

And as I noted earlier, if you want to register for the free workshop and get access to the upcoming storytelling emails, simply click here and you’ll be good to go.

Finally, if you have any thoughts on today’s piece, hit reply to let me know. I love hearing from you.

Have a great rest of your week!

-Lawrence Yeo

P.S. Thanks to all the lovely people who support the blog on Patreon! It means so much. If you’d like to support More To That and get access to exclusive AMAs, offline posts, and other reflections, join as a patron today.

Good Enough Is Just Fine

When I start on a new post, I’m off to the races.

Words connect, the creative juices flow, and I’m able to get a lot done.

But as I get closer to the end, things start slowing down dramatically.

I scroll back and re-read what I’ve written.

Shit. Everything sounds terrible.

All of it makes no sense. None of the concepts stand out. I feel like I need to revise the whole thing.

As these thoughts bombard my brain, my once-confident pace slows to an exhausting crawl.

Perfectionism is when the last 5% of a project feels like 95% of the work.

It’s when you feel like you’re close to the finish line, but you won’t allow yourself to cross it. It’s when you obsess over every last word, every little brushstroke, every final note. It’s the belief that what you have now doesn’t fit the vision you had, so you must work tirelessly to get there.

Perfectionism is the inability to let your expectations go.

The project status bar makes the most sense when we view it alongside this gradation of expectations.

In the beginning, you don’t have any expectations because you haven’t created anything yet. No one expects a blank notebook to be their next bestseller.

When you face a fresh canvas, it’s easy to try out all kinds of ideas. This allows you to build things quickly without much hesitation, and without much expectation:

But as your ideas stack on top of one another, a recognizable theme begins to develop. Narrative arcs start taking shape. Points connect with other points, and there’s an expectation for them to keep connecting with more.

A body of work slowly builds, which is exciting. You’re not quite sure what the end result will be, but you start developing the expectation that it’ll at least be something interesting:

As you venture into the last quarter of the status bar, shit gets real. You now have something concrete to share with others, and there’s a central concept you want to convey. You’ve invested a lot of time, so naturally, your expectations start running quite high:

But it is toward the upper end of this phase where perfectionism can run wild.

For perfectionists, the last 5% of the status bar is the bane of their existence. It is when they’ve set themselves against not just high expectations, but impossible ones:

There are many reasons why perfectionism can manifest. It could be the fear of failure. It could be the fear of disapproval. It could even be a form of procrastination, acting as an excuse to delay finishing a project.

But ultimately, perfectionism is the result of an unattainable vision. The hands cannot recreate the idealized blueprints of the mind, no matter how hard we try. Perfectionists try to ignore this reality, but doing so will always result in a chase that never ends.

Creativity is largely about accepting that we are always a work in progress, and that no individual project has a definitive beginning or end. It’s the understanding that our creative potential is defined by the blending of our work to create a general trend, which we hope is progressing in the right direction.

Perfectionism cuts this trendline short by refusing to add more nodes to it. Since each project can only be released after it crosses some phantom finish line, nothing will ever come out. The illusion of the 100% completion bar keeps creativity from progressing, and stifles our growth as a result.

This is why we must view our status bar not just through the lens of expectations, but also the ease in which we can let our work go. I visualize this as a mountain that culminates in a narrow peak of perfection. Each layer corresponds to a stage that is defined by our expectations, and the narrower the layer, the less output you get from that area:

More To That

by Lawrence Yeo

Illustrated stories on the human condition.

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