Trust Yourself To Let It Go
I remember watching an interview many years ago with Kevin Cronin, lead singer and one of the main creative forces behind R.E.O. Speedwagon. He was talking about his creative process behind their hit “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and how, as a creation of his, it was one that was very difficult for him to let go of.
He talked about how he wanted to keep working on the song in the studio, about wanting to do just one more take, just one more overdub, because he couldn’t bring himself to stop. As I recall the interview, he felt he could add just a little bit more, make it a little bit better, before he felt he could release it to the world.
Of course, he did ultimately release it and the song went on to become a number one hit and one of their best known tunes - a song they felt was important enough for them to play at Live Aid in 1985. In other words, at some point, Cronin had to trust that the work was good enough, and that he had to, finally, let it go.
The point is, it’s natural to doubt what we’re doing at times. It’s normal to debate the specific choices we make as we’re in the process of doing, of creating. It’s completely normal to question our work.
Because this is the reality of creation.
The stories of instantaneous, inspired achievement in a short period of time are few and far between. More common - more realistic - is that great work is a result of hard work, of graft, of blood, sweat and tears.
Great work doesn’t just miraculously appear out of nowhere (except for the guitar riff to “Whole Lotta Love”). It is ideated, crafted, turned over - and over and over and over, until it becomes tangible, something real. (And even then, the creator might still debate the validity of the creation, of its potential impact, of its value. John Lennon did it all the time.)
At some point, though, we have to trust our judgement. This is my best work. I have given this all I can. I have built what I had to.
At some point, we have to let it go. We have to give it to the world - or rather, to the people we created it for - and trust that it will find its place.
That can be nerve-wracking. That can be difficult to accept. That almost always is a scary proposition - one that involves plenty of risk, exposure and vulnerability.
But that’s what makes the work great. That’s why it’s called “great” work. That’s why it’s considered it’s own form of art - no matter if it’s in the arts itself or in other fields of commerce. The iPhone is art. Nest products are art. An elegant, well structured delivery process is art. What you do when you make your own great work - that’s art. You should own it and strive for it.
Just don’t expect that “Great” is going to be easy.