“Perfection is the enemy of excellence“
~adaptation of Voltaire
Do you have any unfinished projects lying around? Have you ever gotten started on something and not quite followed through to the end? Are some of your ideas perpetually on the back burner?
There are as many reasons to procrastinate as there are people in the world. Sometimes it might be a lack of confidence, other times it might be a limiting belief. Fear is a big one, and it comes in two flavors, the fear of failure, and even more insidious, is the fear of success.
Have you ever heard the old parable about the fellow who spent his life building a boat? It sat on the shore and he kept finding more things to do and reasons not to be finished until he finally died.
It wasn’t the quest for an ideal boat that stopped him, it was that he was actually afraid of the sea. If he ever finished, he would have to face his fears and venture out into the unknown beyond the waves.
Above I quote one of my favorite sayings, an adaptation from Voltaire; “Perfection is the enemy of excellence.” It’s useful to also remember that perfection is procrastination’s friend. Excellence is a quality and value we all recognize, you can feel it when you get there. Perfection is a mirage, a vanishing point on the horizon that never arrives.
As we approach the final month of the year, it’s a good time to take stock and ask ourselves what we’d really like to get finished. It’s also a good time to decide what’s really not worth pursuing and ‘cut bait’ as the expression goes.
For me, as you probably know if you’ve been reading my newsletter or following my publishing projects for long, I love to write. But somehow the actual publication of a book, (or books) has remained elusive. The constant output of articles, newsletters, and blog posts is satisfying yet ephemeral.
Sometimes you might find out that it’s a good idea to listen to your own advice. I found myself realizing this the other day as I was meeting with Maria Skinner, our newest member of Dance First. She’s the proprietor of Starfish Dance and Yoga in West Concord, Massachusetts, and the creator of BeSoul, MoveMyWay, Dance Spells, and Ageless Grace.
Maria has been on my radar as an avid fan and supporter of the Dance First motto of ‘movement before medication’ since Dance First’s creation back in 2012. She’s a prolific blogger with a great writing style and a knack for translating the embodiment experience into written words.
I asked her if she’d ever thought about putting together a book, and much like me and lots of other folks she said ‘Yes of course!’ but she’d never gotten serious about it. With so much great content already written on her blog, I couldn’t help but encourage her to take a crack at it. Self-publishing a book on Kindle, and getting print copies on-demand has never been easier, and having a book published does wonders for your credibility.
So I found myself giving her advice that you or anyone contemplating a book project (including me and some 81% of all Americans) can run with. The idea is to start by doing a rapid-fire mind-map, which is sort of a stream-of-consciousness brain-dump in order to get the main message framed up.
You start with a big sheet of blank paper and a magic marker. In the middle, write the key concept and draw a circle around it. Then start writing all the other ideas, insights, and pieces of information that relate to it in a constellation around the central idea and put circles around all of them. Once you get most of your nuggets on the sheet, start connecting them with lines, which will probably lead to more ideas being formed.
Once you spend a good hour or so doing this, you’ll have the foundation for your outline, which is the next step. Don’t worry about making your mind map clear or neat, it’s meant for your eyes only and is simply a way to turn your brain inside out and get your thoughts out on paper, much like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
From your mind map, making an outline is much easier. Organizing your your ideas into a linear sequence will give you the basic structure of your chapters, and from there it’s a much more manageable task to start writing them up one-by-one.
And lastly, something I think I forgot to mention to Maria, is the idea of not naming your book first, but rather waiting for the title to emerge. If you start with a title, you tend to write towards it. Whereas if you build your content first, the perfect title will come to you in the end.
Anyway, like so many other things in life, it’s worth paying some attention to the advice we give other people. It’s like that old saying you mom might have used when you were a kid, “When you point your finger, there’s three fingers pointing back at you.”
One of my favorite things about leading the Dance First Associationis my one-on-one brainstorming sessions that I offer to all our members. There’s something so satisfying about seeing the light bulbs go on above people’s heads during a meeting.
Whenever I can contribute to the success of another dynamic movement leader, I’m grateful that our work here at Dance First andConscious Dancer is making a difference in the world. My inbox is open and there’s more to our memberships than meets the eye, so please drop me a line anytime and we’ll see how we can collaborate.
Until next week — much love and keep dancing!
PS: You’ll notice dozens of new workshops, retreats, and trainings in the big list below. Check out the global reach of our Dance First member community on the MoveMap, and please share with your dancing friends!
Dance First Member Spotlight – Fred Sugerman and Medicine Dance !!
Host of a weekly Saturday morning event, Fred also offers a Facilitation Training, Performance and Non-Performance Workshops, and epic twice-yearly Immersions in Hawaii and the UK, as well as local day-long Immersions in the Los Angeles area.
I have the pleasure of sharing a window into the Saturday morning class experience written up by dancer and literary midwife Sage Knight, a devoted Medicine Dance fan and eloquent translator of the conscious dance experience.
I walk around the room, “arriving,” coaxing my attention into the here and now. Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” plays in the background, softly enough that I can hear myself think. Fred Sugerman, Medicine Dance founder and facilitator, reads my mind:
“Keep thinking what you’re thinking, and move your body. You are welcome to use any unoccupied space. Allow others to do what others are doing, and keep feeling your body.”
Feeling my body… yes. I love these sessions of sacred-selfish time set aside for pure awareness without story where I am invited to live “below the neck.” Most of the time, my eyes are closed and I enter a velvety dark world of breath, sound, sensation and movement as my mercurial mind slows down to explore the vastness of my own inner terrain. The insanity of the “real” world has not felt real to me for many moons, but inside the medicine dance, feelings have a place, and I am sane. At times I am on the floor; at others, on my bare feet. Whatever the shape my bones choose, I feel the support of the hard wood beneath me as I listen to Fred’s voice. “Support… press… pull… play… connect… disengage. Your presence is undeniable.”
I am welcome and my presence is undeniable. I matter. We all matter.
Acutely aware of the power of this work, I am curious about the possibility that our movement is The Movement.
After class, Fred responds.
“The work we do induces a visceral and intimate knowing of what the phrase, “Mitakuye Oyasin,” Lakota for “all my relations,” means all parts of my body, all parts of self. We’ve been in places with minimal or no war, with respect for all our relations. We’re recovering that information, using our bodies as a local way of remembering, restructuring, and rewiring, clearing, knowing how to be kinder, more respectful and loving. Our bodies are our access to the universe. We are expressing Self through self.”
It’s delightful to have such an insightful peek into the Medicine Dance experience! Fred and Sage, thank you so much for sharing this with our readers!
Please visit the Medicine Dance website to learn more and attend a class in Santa Monica or journey to one of their epic retreats!