Be Creative, Not Perfect.

The reason why you haven’t written that novel yet, released that song or otherwise given expression to the art inside you – is almost certainly fear. Fear of what people will think of our creative work can play a significant role in our decision to show off our talents. It could be fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of judgement, and for some, even fear of success.

“Most people self-edit, killing potentially creative ideas because we’re afraid that our bosses or peers will see us fail. We stick to ‘safe’ solutions or suggestions. We hang back, allowing others to take risks.” – David & Tom Kelley (Creative Confidence)

There are many reasons why we may give into fear and fail to unlock our potential. Having creative confidence requires you to be strong-willed and means that you must take steps to control your emotions. There are many ways we can trick ourselves into believing that our creative work does not deserve recognition or attention.

  • I’m not good enough

Self doubt is probably the number one fear of any creative professional.  After all, for the most part, we are not creating necessities but luxuries.  As much as our art enriches our life and the lives of others, it remains something that we (at least as consumers) could probably live without.

  • I’m not original enough

While it may be true that all the great themes in art and literature have already been done before a thousand times over, it’s always possible to bring something entirely new to the process.

  • People won’t take me seriously

The truth is that your career as an artist is only as serious as you take it.  Do you work at it as your “job” or do you only work at it occasionally as your “hobby”?  How much work do you really put into it daily?  If you were your boss, would you pay yourself for the effort that you are currently making? If you are putting effort into your work, it will not go unnoticed.

  • My work is never as good as I imagined it would be

No artist is ever completely satisfied with their work.  Some pieces you will always like better than others but the pursuit of perfection is only a mirage that keeps you from moving on. We should be creative, not perfect. We should look beyond our own biased perspective of how ‘good’ our work is. We should free ourselves from the belief that others will laugh at our creativity and undermine our efforts.

We should accept the fact that even the greatest authors, composers, musicians, and artists were still unsatisfied with their masterpieces in some way.  Perfection is an illusion that will eventually consume you if you let it.  Think of each piece that you create as a stepping stone on a much longer journey.  You will never get to the next stage of development as an artist unless you are willing to set that piece aside and move on to the next.

Mitochondrial replacement therapy

Ethics vs. Science: Three-parent babies

A new IVF technique uses DNA from three people to prevent genetic diseases being passed on. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) recently approved the use of this groundbreaking procedure, deeming it fit for clinical use. The historic decision to go ahead with such treatments is highly controversial and critics have argued that there are significant biological risks involved.

The Procedure

Harmful mutations in mitochondrial DNA can have a devastating impact on children who inherit them. Due to the fact that the mutations affect how much energy is available for cells, they can cause progressive failure in the most energy-hungry tissues, including the heart, brain and muscles. About one in 10,000 newborns are affected by mitochondrial disease. Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT) refers to a treatment in which a tiny amount of DNA from a third woman is added to genetic information from its mother and father. This technique seeks to offer mothers a way to have a child, without passing on the metabolic diseases caused by faulty mitochondria. US fertility clinic revealed last year that it had created a baby boy using a controversial technique that mixes DNA from three people, scientists were quick to raise the alarm. Some objected on ethical grounds, and others questioned the scientific claims made by the clinic’s leader, physician John Zhang.

In theory, MRT can not only prevent a child developing inherited diseases, but also protect future generations. However, critics say the technique is not fool proof and small numbers of faulty mitochondria may still be “carried over” into the child, and even replicate in the developing embryo.

Ethics vs. Science

A degree of caution, even scepticism, is a healthy thing so far as scientific advances are concerned. Critics have claimed that using donated mitochondrial DNA to stop faulty genes from being passed on from mother to child amounts to the creation of “three-parent babies”. In addition, Dr Dieter Egli, of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, discovered that when the nucleus is transferred some of the defective mitochondria can go with it. He went on to say “…it looks like a rush to use this as a treatment, especially during a time when we still know very little about what the outcomes are.” However, supporters have stressed that the DNA in mitochondria, which provide cells with energy from food, is separate from the DNA that essentially makes us who we are, contained in our 23 pairs of chromosomes.

It is fair to say that the wider community does have to create some sort of framework of rules for morally charged medical intervention such as termination of pregnancy and, indeed, genetic intervention. It is vital that the development of MRT takes place very cautiously and safely within that framework of law.

Find Your Flow

Flow. This is the birthplace of creativity. It is an optimal state of consciousness in which we feel and perform our very best. Flow. This is where time dilates and every aspect of your performance is heightened. The flow state gives a sense of focus, concentration, and true clarity to our work, as well as a sense that the work is valuable and that the work is in fact its own reward. In order for a flow state to occur, you must see the activity as voluntary, enjoyable (intrinsically motivating), and it must require skill and be challenging (but not too challenging) with clear goals towards success.

“Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.” Mihaly Csikszentmihayli

Most people don’t know how to reach their flow state on demand. When it happens, it’s fantastic — but how can you make it happen more often?

Make Time – Feeling productive, whether at work or home, is gratifying. But if you have taken on so much that you can’t satisfy your daily demands, you may become emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. Determine which of your responsibilities are out of choice versus necessity. Which are energizing versus draining? Your heart needs to feel nourished, and your body energized for you to engage in pursuits in the flow state.

Focus – Eliminate distractions. Anything that might distract you or tempt you from your task needs to be taken care off before you can fully be in the zone. This could mean turning off your phone, Facebook, your email alerts — anything that might pull you out of your flow state.

Don’t Expect, Just Accept – As human beings we have a negativity bias. In order to enter the flow state, you have to let go of all expectations. There are no wrong answers, write whatever comes to mind, don’t worry about formatting, just let go and fully immerse yourself in the task. This will take practice, but once you stop being a self-critic and start allowing yourself to be freely creative, you can be bold and play with ideas that you never thought were possible.

Plan Bee

Bees are responsible for many of the commercially grown crops we eat (including staples such as apples, some berries and broccoli). Today, their dwindling populations pose serious problems for farmers. In response to this, Anna Haldewang, an industrial design student at Georgia’s Savannah College of Art and Design, has created “Plan Bee,” a drone controlled by a smart device that artificially pollinates flowers on behalf of bees.

Pollination is a complex task and should not be underrated. It involves finding flowers and deciding if they are suitable and haven’t already been visited. The pollinator then needs to successfully handle the flower, picking pollen up and putting it down in another plant, while co-ordinating with its team and optimising its route between flowers. In all of these tasks, our existing natural pollinators excel, their skills honed through millions of years of evolution. Unlike biological evolution, which is wholly adaptive and driven by survival of the fittest, technological evolution is self-evolution, and it is therefore driven by what we want, not necessarily what we need.

It is clear that humans urgently need to ease the strains on the planet’s natural systems. But whether or not we can solely rely on technology to solve all of our problems is another question.

Money, Motivation & Addiction

Money is our marker for success, a metric that we can assess and improve upon. Many of us base our lives on our bank balance. Having very little means that we are a failure. What will people think if we do not have the newest car, the grandest house or throw the best parties? Money defines who we are. The problem is that capitalism sells us happiness as something that can be bought. It cannot. We look for love through capitalism. It is our preoccupation with wealth that dictates how we define happiness and success. Such a money-centric society even coerces the non-greedy to focus on money at the expense of damn near everything else in order to survive. In this way, the pursuit of money, like a drug, has many addictive qualities.

Addicted

 For someone who is addicted to alcohol or drugs, their lives become increasingly organized around the use and abuse of their substance. The person who uses money to alter their mood can have their relationship with money spin out of control; by being overly focused on accumulating it, spending it hoarding it or using it to control people, places and things. Gradually, just as is the case with any addict, their relationship with money becomes their primary relationship in life. Their personal drives and identity become so wrapped up around having money (the wealthy person), accumulating money (the big earner) spending money (the big spender) or even giving money away (the big donor), that they don’t know who they would be without it. Nor do they want to know who they would be without it. Over time their core sense of identity along with their ability to manage their moods becomes overly dependent on something outside themselves.

The pursuit of this lifestyle leaves many of us feeling unhappy, disempowered and unfulfilled. No matter how hard a lot of people work, they will not bridge the income inequality gap, nor be able to afford enough consumer products to feel content. Why? Because being content doesn’t exist in a world of excess.

NEW: Watch my chilling response to our society’s obsession with money below.