Do good work, with good people, and the rest will take care of itself.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the bullshit that surrounds us. Sorry to say it so bluntly, but it’s true. Whether personal projects or professional endeavors, there’s a lot of noise coming from all angles, making it difficult to focus on what really matters.
Opinions of people telling us what we should be doing or how we should be acting/thinking/breathing. Everywhere we look there’s advice on how to be successful, productive, and happy. If you’re not reading some article online, you probably have a friend telling you about this great piece they read earlier in the day. Happiness bullshit is everywhere! Magazines, blogs, TED talks; everywhere we look there’s someone giving unsolicited advice on our lives, our careers, and our personal pursuits.
Yet honestly, none of that stuff matters. None of it matters at all, when you really get down to it.
What matters is doing whatever it is that you do. What matters is doing the work.
Putting in your time to master a craft, a skill, or a desire. Or allocating your time towards specific areas of your life that you decide to focus on, and then doing what’s necessary to move yourself forward. Simple as that, no questions asked.
What matters is showing up and being prepared to take some hits, yet practicing, working, and creating anyway.
What matters is getting so far into the thing that you’re doing that you forget about it all and that world around you, and you just do the thing.
That’s the only part to focus on: Doing the thing.
The rest will fall into place.
But typically — especially in American working cultures, from corporate to creative — we tend to focus on all the other nonsense that surrounds the people who are “successfully” doing the work. Nonsense like morning routines, daily schedules, creative journeys, credit and fame, and step-by-step guides that worked for one person but don’t apply everywhere.
It’s certainly valuable to learn things along the way, always remaining open to new ideas and ways of operating, but at the end of the day, your work is what matters most.
Great artists, makers, musicians, entrepreneurs, leaders, and all of the people we end up hearing so much about aren’t doing their thing for all of those other surrounding reasons. They do their things because it’s what they know; it’s the only thing they know. It’s what matters most to them. It’s their craft, and it’s what pulls them out of life and into their zone.
Yet on a daily basis there’s so much nonsensical glorification around all of it, between accolades and awards, press and publications, interviews with creative people and more; there’s endless piles of garbage “content” designed to do one thing: steal your attention for just a little bit longer.
My thought: ignore that stuff. Tune it out. Let it go. Know that it’s there if you ever want to look at it for a moment and spark your creativity, but for the most part, let it all float away and go do the work.
Practice your craft. Put in your time. Forget about the other people, forget about the interviews, tips and tricks, and forget about how the other person did their thing. Go do yours. Do you.
As one of my favorite creative minds, Austin Kleon, says in his wonderfully inspiring book Steal Like An Artist,
The trick is to be too busy doing your work to care.