Patterns Lead to Joy, Creativity

Patterns Lead to Joy, Creativity

I was talking with a client and friend about his next career moves. He explained that he was concerned about trying to learn a particular skill that he felt he sucked at. Later that day, my 12-year-old brother said that he liked drawing, but he wasn’t good enough at it, so he didn’t see the point in taking drawing classes.

I realize this is a consistent myth in our society, so I’ll quote the great Cal Newport:

“You don’t like something and then you do it. You like something because you do it.”

This is very important. For jobs, hobbies, businesses, whatever. It’s critical to get into this mindset of seeing our skills as flexible and malleable. It’s important to know more before giving up. I’m not saying know everything, but know more. You don’t need to become an expert to see if you like something, but you do need to give it a shot.

The more you know, the longer you can do it.

The more you know, the more you can do.

The more you know, the more you enjoy it.

The more you know, the clearer the incentive.

The more you know, the more rewards you find.

The point is this: Don’t try to predict your commitment to something. Your commitment will vary as you learn more about that something. Don’t sabotage yourself too early because you claim that you don’t like that something. Of course you don’t like it, since you don’t have a clear effort-reward connection yet. You don’t know enough patterns of that something.

As one learns and sees more patterns, the understanding of what’s possible increases, and creativity sets in. Once a skill stops being a simple repetition of what other performers created before you, and you start to own your skill by allowing yourself to create your own patterns, that’s where enjoyment and obsession show up.

Give it that much time, learn some patterns before giving up.

Note: Even being competent but not great at many things is a skill on its own, a form of greatness. You learn to love doing a bit of everything. You learn to love not getting to love any particular thing, which gives you room to appreciate many more things.

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