Tag Archives: perfectionism

“I lower my standards”: William Stafford and How Progress Trumps Perfectionism

The poet William Stafford wrote a poem daily – every morning, starting at either 4 or 4:30 AM depending on which account you read. When asked what happened if the poem wasn’t amazing, he replied, “I lower my standards.” Lowering standards – I can see a sea of executives and testing afficionados react in horror. Standards are standards, right? Not if you want to progress at something you care about. There’s time enough for high standards later, when you publish. The daily act of creation, of innovation of producing the work you were born to produce is going to give varying degrees of quality. The important part is to keep the flow flowing, no judgment. And when it does come in, be like William Stafford – lower your standards. This is the second part of a 40 Days to Change for Good ritual – the first part is to do it daily. Robert Frost also tells us to make sure the work is motivated by delight. Progress is the #1 motivator. If you want the power of the #1 motivator as one of your tools, make sure it trumps your urge for perfection. There’s time later for polishing. Lower your standards until you get the flow flowing and the work moving.

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