Friday, December 18, 2009

CONTRAST: Exploring vs Accomplishing Stuff

Three things recently got me thinking about the contrast between exploring and getting things done, and how we need both:

1. A conversation with a designer who said they thought the difference between art and design is that the artist creates from their life and passions while the designer tries to get out of the way. (Way oversimplified, but it hints at this contrast).

2. Several introverts in my life have told me (or exhibited in action) that when they don't get time alone they become frustrated, judgmental and see things in blaringly negative ways.

3. I recently picked up part time work installing audio and video systems, and I've liked it because we get things done (as opposed to my other work which is with people in which I see progress but rarely see finished products).

People are different and need different amounts of exploration and accomplishment. Artistic pursuits require more exploration, as do startups, and certain types of research and programming. Even then, however, a back-and-forth rhythm and a level of tension between exploration and getting things done is necessary and good. Spend too much time in either place and you get stuck or withered, strained and stretched or arrogant and lazy.

In some ways I think I've hit the rhythm best in my songwriting. I spend a fair amount of time exploring as well as time editing. And even when it comes to accomplishing things (for instance getting a song finished like the one I was recently commissioned to write) there is still some exploration involved. I've found the end result is better when there's a little exploration allowed even in the accomplishing phase (and some clear boundaries and goals put around the exploration phase).

This post was pretty exploratory, maybe I'll come back to the theme and accomplish a succinct, applicable model for this exploration-productivity contrast with some suggestions for tracking and implementing healthy rhythms in this area in your life.

Or maybe it was just a landscape I passed through quickly on the way to the one I'll be exploring in more depth...

No comments: