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We all desire to do great work. Our work has our name and our DNA attached to it, so we’re always wanting to create our absolute best. Those of us who are competitive often feel the pressure to outdo ourselves or anyone else in our field. With each new creation, we have the opportunity to create the greatest art of our history.

So, how do we do this and what prevents us from doing this every single day?

First, we have to embrace the concept that status quo, just enough, and okay are not sufficient. Greatness is like a mile marker that is a mile further down the road – a mile further than most people are willing to travel. We want greatness and to create something beyond average. We want to create things that people talk about, not the stuff people ignore. In order to do that, we have to be willing to do what others are not. We have to be willing to work, pursue, challenge, and fight to uncover the last 2% that requires love, passion, commitment and the refusal to be satisfied. When we live with the gift and the curse of this passion, we uncover some of the great obstacles to achieving great work. Here are three of those obstacles:

1. Distraction and lack of direction. Focus is so important. We have to be willing to clear this hurdle. We have to fight and claw to create the space necessary to be our best creatively. This is hard work. It’s difficult. We have responsibilities and deadlines that are at war with the clarity necessary to make our best stuff. Traditional brainstorming and our routines feed the distraction. We have to battle to find new ways to tell the same stories. Not having clear direction often leaves too many possibilities on the table. Without crystal clear direction, we spend hours of valuable time chasing good ideas rather than great ideas. We have to have the clearest direction of what we’re attempting to create and the willingness to rid ourselves from any distractions that keep us from executing that direction. Laser focusing always produces better work than cannon ball creating.

2. Be as strategic as you are creative. Our greatest art is only as powerful as it is accessible. The relationship between what we create and the information it provides is more important than the details of any one particular feature alone. We have to fight to tell the STORY and the BACK STORY. The days of a good idea succeeding without sweat, strategy, and intentionality are over. If our greatest work can be broken into pieces, it probably isn’t sustainable. We have to understand the entire scope of our art and experiences or we won’t be able to communicate them effectively.

3. Avoiding the capture. We have to always be capturing ideas. At any point in the creative process, we may have another idea that could be the next great one. That is not permission to chase the rabbit down the trail, but it is mandatory we document it so we can come back to it NEXT. We have to stay focused on the current project. Greatness is compromised when we choose to sacrifice an idea for another idea before we have given it enough time to live. Documenting our ideas gives us options for our next endeavor and the opportunity to spring board rather than start at zero every time. Further, documenting our ideas makes them better. Writing them out allows us to start flushing and planning. It forces us to confront if our idea has solid content as well as the context to make a difference.

What is something that you have learned prevents you from doing your greatest work? If you can identify it, why are you still allowing it to get in your way?

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