Half-hearted, or a monkey?

It’s best not to discuss one’s flaws online. That’s the impression I get. Potential employers scour the internet and choose not to hire you based on the ghastly things they find. But today, for the sake of this blog, I’m going to throw caution to the windflowers.

The other night, a friend accused me of pursuing projects “half-heartedly”.

Ouch. 

It was something I REALLY didn’t want to hear. Me! Half-hearted! Be still, my heart which only beats on the off-beat. 

How could he have said that? After all, I cannot STAND people who pursue things half-heartedly. For years I prided myself on being a perfectionist, because I thought that meant I wasn’t half-heartedly approaching my work. So of course, I got quite defensive and blurted out “I don’t do things half-heartedly! I just do things slowly!”. See The Tortoise and the Hare.

But it’s been nagging me ever since. Do I really have commitment issues? This morning, when I looked at this blog, I realised I’d written two posts in the space of a fortnight. I had intended to write daily. The guy may have a point. Even if it is the point of a rusty stake which he has stabbed through my semi-heart.

But see, it’s the plight of the perfectionist. It’s a problem I’ve not yet overcome. We’re all aiming to create this…

…but we aim so high that we tire ourselves out, ending up with bits of greatness amongst giant gaping holes…

…because, so badly, we want to avoid creating this….

 

This lovely painting is the handiwork of Cecilia Giménez, an elderly Spanish woman who made headlines recently when she “restored” this century-old fresco of Jesus. The paint had been peeling off substantially, so Cecilia took the initiative to try and salvage it. The monkey-like result has both mortified people, yet drawn crowds of thousands to the church.

She’s clearly a “get-it-done type”, that Cecilia. The sort who would say “don’t worry about it not being perfect – just get the thing done so we can all go out to tapas”. And who are we to criticize? Thanks to her, Jesus now has a whole face. It may look like he’s addicted to botox injections but nevertheless, He has a face. Even Steve Jobs used to tell his staff “real artists ship”. Cecilia has shipped.

I’m not going to get snarky here. Sure, I used to look down on people who cared more about “completing a task” than “aiming for transcendence via high quality work”. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that if it weren’t for loved ones badgering me to finish things, I’d never have passed pre-school.

So, I think the key here is it’s okay to aim high and it’s also okay to allow yourself to paint a monkey – but keep painting those monkeys consistently. With enough practice, discipline and healthy ambition, your monkeys may start to look like Jesus.

Then, and only then, should you dare go anywhere near a 19th Century fresco.

And so…I will continue blogging.

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