Posted: January 28, 2022 in: Pain-2-Power

Editing Your Life Story—Or Any Other Story

Several years ago, about three months into our efforts to launch a new technology that allows not-for-profits to better understand their donors, my team and I realized that we were going to have to radically change our product and take a very different path to market.  I must have sighed loudly or grimaced or both, because my friend and co-founder smiled at me and said, “You don’t seem to be having fun.  This is the fun part!”

It didn’t feel like fun.  It felt like we had spent a lot of time, effort and money heading in the wrong direction.  But I should have known better:  Starting any project, including a business, is always a creative journey.  The path to success is rarely a straight line.  Missteps, re-thinking and reupping are not only to be expected, but, are necessary to “get it right.”  They are part of the creative process.  Reengineering an idea, a business, a political campaign—or one’s life—is inevitable, and it can be fun.

I have written lots of books and movie scripts and, in every case, editing was an invaluable part of the process.  In fact, falling in love with the content—of anything—and resisting needed editing can kill creative projects that has huge potential.  The great novelist William Faulkner put it this way:  In writing, you must kill all your darlings. Stephen Spielberg expanded on the thought: Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.

The path to success is rarely a straight line.

Dr. Keith Ablow

One very substantial hurdle in the way of editing an idea is ego.  When we see the fruits of our imagination in a business deck or a manuscript or an architectural rendering, we can feel legitimately proud.  We may have gotten others—readers, investors or potential partners—to buy into what we have manifested.  And that can make us feel affirmed and accomplished.

But there’s something else that comes into play beyond ego and pride: Fear.  If we reverse course, if we start reworking our ideas and creations, what if they all just fall apart fall apart?

When something you create feels not quite right, that isn’t a knife to the heart of the project, it’s testimony to the vitality of it. The project or plan has its own life.  It is calling out to you to  make it stronger and stronger.

–Dr. Keith Ablow

Here’s the key to “having fun” while reimagining or editing or deconstructing your ideas or work product—or life:  Faith in the creative process itself.  See, you wouldn’t be feeling that your creative work (or you) could be stronger or more “true” or more profitable if it were not for that

immeasurable force in the universe called intuition and another called inspiration.  When something you create as an individual or as a group feels not quite right, that isn’t a knife to the heart of the project, it’s testimony to the vitality of it.  The project or plan has its own life.  It is calling upon you, as a child might, to help it grow stronger and stronger.

We human beings could apply the same reasoning to our lives.  We’re works of art, too.  And if we feel that we’re years into the wrong career or an ill-fated relationship or education that misses the mark, then that feeling is a gift from God or the universe, not a searing criticism or an attack.  It means that we’re still becoming the people we were meant to be. We’re still alive.  We’re still worthy of true self-regard.

So, go ahead . . . Even if you feel some fear, remind yourself to have some fun putting that next layer of paint on your metaphorical canvas, whether professionally or personally.

Dr. Keith Ablow

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