Craft For The Soul Creativity Rad People

Ourselves, Motivation & Misunderstandings

Oliver Jeffers This Moose Belongs To Me

Hello bunnies.

How are you? I am good. I seem to be quite busy, but I’m finding little pockets of time to do the things that make me feel happy. They are these kinds of things:

Quick walks through the park
Speedy trips to the shops with Ari
Early morning soup making
Mid morning toast toasting
Late evening hot baths
Lunch break TV shows
Afternoon tea podcasts

I listened to a podcast the other day and honestly, it felt like the best thing I’d heard in a long time. It was the Design Matters podcast with Oliver Jeffers as guest. That’s it above (or here.) Have you listened to it? It’s really, really great. I loved so many things about it, amongst them were:

Jeffers talking about the fact that people want to see us, our own style, our own handwriting, just us as we are. Flaws and all.

I love this because I think we’re all under pressure to adapt ourselves to the styles or fads of the day – be they aesthetic (and I’m thinking about art/creative style here) or personal – things like diet fads and exercise trends and all the things we’re meant to like or the ways we’re meant to look.

I really think we owe it to the world to be who we really are, if that’s possible. I know it’s sometimes hard… The thing is that if we’re lining up to follow the way others are doing things, living life, touting stuff, we’re sort of defaulting ourselves. It’s possible that we’re a kind of half-self… wanting to bust out and just be the way we are, but feeling that it might be easier to follow a more prescriptive path set by someone else because lots of other people are doing it and it’s ‘working’ for them.

Maybe we could stop measuring and monitoring ourselves in disappointed tones and notice how great we are?

It’s good to be us. Even if that means we don’t have the perfect house, perfect outfit, perfect hair, perfect body, perfect kids, perfect health, perfect job. Not being/having those things is MY kind of perfect.

Wouldn’t it be such a relief to move around in a world where people were themselves (unless that self is a serial killer of some such…) We could spend our time doing things we loved with people who knew us – rather than being hyper-vigilant and trying to squish ourselves into a different mold.

This owing the world our real selves leads into something equally important. Backing ourselves.

While it’s nice to be humble and it’s easy to second guess, in the end isn’t it a great idea to stand behind ourselves and the work we do or the efforts we put in? I really think it is. In the work I do with creative people, I see a lot of self-doubt and self-deprecation. That’s totally understandable because it’s scary to expose your work and it’s so easy to let insecurities override the joy of creating something. There’s a kind of existing script involving foot-shuffling, hand-wringing and doubting looks as someone tells you your work is good.  Again, this doubt-y shuffle is a comfy default.

Surely it’s better to steady ourselves, get behind our own work, be proud of the stuff we do? While it might be comforting to voice our doubts and get affirmation from others, how great would it be if we just said ‘Here’s the thing I made/wrote/composed. I like/am interested in the way it turned out. It was a challenge making it, but I’m so glad I did?’

Not only does it feel better to back ourselves, it sets a pretty nice example for other creatives and the people in our lives – a nice diversion from the more rampant uneasy default of self-doubt or self-deprecation. Backing our work also means that we’re not giving others the responsibility of making us feel okay. We are okay. We do good work.

Let’s let other people off the hook and make it much easier to say we’ve done a good job. From… NOW!

Another thing I loved about this podcast was –  an observation about how a person’s motivation trumps their actions – especially when it comes to communication and misunderstandings.

This is such a great idea. We’re taught that good intentions aren’t enough, but I love the idea that if someone’s motivation was GOOD, even if things didn’t turn out as expected because of the way something was executed or stuff that happened along the way, it’s still okay. We’re going to work it out. Because motivation trumps action.

Intentions are actually really important and should not be cast aside. It’s so easy to think ill of someone because they didn’t follow your rules or stick to common behaviour/communication conventions.  But they might have different rules, so getting down to the bare bones of WHY they did whatever they did and what their motivation was from the get-go can surely make a lot of the squabbles and snark of life drop away?

And that made me think about creative misunderstandings…

I’ve had quite a few creative misunderstandings over my career. I thought about detailing a few, but I don’t really want to draw attention to the people involved, because they really were just misunderstandings and those people are probably good eggs.

One of the things that seems to happen when creative or sensitive people feel they are at loggerheads, is that they actually stop hearing one another and seek to protect their creative vision at all costs. This is so sad for all involved, really, because if we stop trying to protect our idea/heart/creative self and ask ‘what’s really happening here?’ there is often a way through. It’s possible that the parties involved are either closer to a resolution than they know OR they’ve been teetering on the edge of misunderstanding all along and luckily this has become obvious and some rational decisions can now be made.

There was so much other good stuff in the Oliver podcast – observations about ownership, sharing, kindness, publishing, impermanence, loss. You must listen. You must.

It just goes to show that if you spend some time listening to other people’s great ideas, you get a whole heap of your own.

More Oliver Jeffers over on BrainPickings.

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And You Don’t Have To Win Everyone Over
Why Slowing Down Is The New Speeding Up
Have Your Pie And Eat It Too!
Watch Out For The Gems

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Kerry
    May 24, 2016 at 9:38 AM

    Great post, Pip! Totally agree! 🙂

  • Reply
    Zanni Louise
    June 16, 2015 at 8:17 PM

    Oliver Jeffers has long been one of my favourite creatives. And I love podcasts. Can’t wait to listen to this!

  • Reply
    Pia
    June 15, 2015 at 12:48 AM

    Pip,
    This is pure gold. Your observation about Creatives having difficulty communicating sometimes . . . “they actually stop hearing one another and seek to protect their creative vision at all costs” is so utterly true.
    And so insightful.
    Thank you for this post.
    <3
    Pia

  • Reply
    Carly Findlay
    June 14, 2015 at 8:00 PM

    I have downloaded this podcast to listen to because of your recommendation.

    It is so important for us to back ourselves and to be proud of our work. I hope that people think themselves worthy enough to nominee themselves for an award or scholarship or something great – because you can’t rely on others to do that for you (and shouldn’t be disappointed if you miss out because you had the chance to nominate yourself). But then pride can be seen as a bit up yourself, you know, and it shouldn’t be regarded that way.

    Thank you for writing this.

  • Reply
    Zooey
    June 13, 2015 at 8:07 PM

    Hi Pip, I’ve been travelling the last few months and have had lots of lovely time to slow down and reflect. Anyhoo, I have been pondering a creative project that fell through over a year ago, it sadly resulted in not only a fold of the project but friendships too. I realised just reading this how it truely was just a mess of misunderstandings and there’s no need to still torture myself about it. Onto the next project! Thanks for your insights, they always come at the perfect time. X

  • Reply
    Josephine
    June 12, 2015 at 7:36 PM

    A beautiful post Pip, thank you. I’ll make sure to listen over the weekend. We have a few of Mr Jeffers fine works at home – my favourite being The Way Back Home. About a year or so ago, I saw a short film about Oliver’s creative process and it was most inspiring. He’d be an ideal dinner party guest 😉
    Good luck with all your events over the weekend.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    June 12, 2015 at 4:22 PM

    Oh I listened to that one on Brain pickings yesterday too! I just loved the part about the unanswerable question, no right and wrong way of seeing, just different. I read his books to my kiddos every day 🙂

  • Reply
    Courtney
    June 12, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    I actually love Oliver Jeffers.
    Lost and Found is one of the most treasured books at our house. My 3 small people (and me!) adore it.
    “Some birds are like that” might just be the best sentence in all of literature, kid lit or otherwise.

  • Reply
    The Hipsterette
    June 12, 2015 at 7:17 AM

    Thanks, Pip. I will schedule time to listen to Oliver Jeffers this weekend. Two thoughts and quotes came to mind after reading your post: “compare and despair” and “Be yourself – everyone else is taken”. The last one is by Oscar Wilde – true individual!

  • Reply
    Helen Fatharly
    June 11, 2015 at 11:42 PM

    Gosh Pip, Your enthusiasm is thoroughly contagious, and I agree with everything you have said here. Now I am looking forward to listening to this Podcast!

  • Reply
    Reannon @shewhorambles
    June 11, 2015 at 10:13 PM

    I am going to have a listen to that tomorrow because it sounds totally up my ally!

    Have a nice weekend Pip xx

  • Reply
    Cityhippyfarmgirl
    June 11, 2015 at 8:18 PM

    I adore Oliver Jeffers. One of my favourite written lines of all time comes from him. Looking forward to hearing this, thanks Pip.

  • Reply
    Renae
    June 11, 2015 at 7:02 PM

    “I love this because I think we’re all under pressure to adapt ourselves to the styles or fads of the day ”
    YES, YES, YES! I posted on my blog today about Project Life, the system of scrapbooking I use, and while I ended up deleting the paragraph from my final draft I initially had in there that there’s so much inspiration and fads to follow that you do second guess yourself, doubt yourself, think you must be crap, but at the end of the day the goal is a personal scrapbook about your life, not the popular kid on the block. I also updated my ‘about’ page today and posted some website goals which talk about that overthinking and self-doubt I have because I compare too much. This post is just what I needed tonight. Thank you Pip!

  • Reply
    Isabel
    June 11, 2015 at 6:04 PM

    Nice one Pip. I’ll listen to it on my evening run. I really agree with this backing yourself thing, and not relying on other people’s approval. This afternoon, I find myself constructing a presentation on my former work and travels in PNG, in Chinese, to present to classmates tomorrow. I find this both interesting and exciting! I know it’s not everyone’s idea of interesting and exciting, but for me, it works, and I’m backing myself. By the way, I loved your book. I read it in about a day in Shanghai! Good on you Pip x

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