Being Late Is What Makes Me Great (Sometimes)

Being Late Is What Makes Me Great (Sometimes)

24/02/2020 Off By pauldrury

A Douglas Adams quote sticks with me every time that a deadline nears:

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make when they go by.”

For anyone involved in creative or entrepreneurial pursuits, this is a familiar thought. If the idea or project isn’t yet ready, it simply hasn’t had enough time to ripen.

If we give our ideas enough time to percolate, we are guaranteed to be closer to creative nirvana. If we force our mind into solidifying our thoughts before it has had a chance to let them breathe, we will have an imperfect solution that will be hard to mould further. Once we have come up with a “solution” for something, it is difficult to look past that idea to something entirely different. Much better not to have any solution at all for a while.

Just let the wonderful randomness of your mind take the strain.

I have been enjoying teaching my twelve-year-old daughter about the mystery of creativity recently. She writes with a carefree stream-of-consciousness approach, and while this is fantastic for filling a page of her school book, her ideas are sometimes a little disjointed. The other day, I suggested that she (slowly) writes a paragraph, goes to play with her brother for ten minutes, and then writes another paragraph, etc. She did this for two hours, and the piece of work was superb. She was pretty quiet for the rest of the day – it is wonderful when you realise that there is a different way of doing something.

Giving your brain time to work out “the next paragraph” is why procrastination is at the heart of many an amazing venture or creative project.

Top entrepreneurs very rarely push the button on every idea immediately. They get used to the ideas, they adapt them, they test them, and even then they will perfect them right up until the last minute.

Giving yourself permission to wait is one thing, but giving yourself permission to be late is another thing entirely. Every now and again, it’s okay, it really is.

Possibly the greatest painting of all time, the Mona Lisa, was commissioned by Francesco del Giocondo to celebrate the birth of his second son. Da Vinci started the painting in 1503-1504, but art historians estimate that it was only finished in 1517, shortly before his death.

The trick lies in accepting the fact that many deadlines are arbitrary. Da Vinci certainly thought so....

You set a deadline to suit a process, but if the ideas are not quite there, should you really rush in regardless? Have a chat to the person waiting for the piece of work - can they wait for it any more? In some cases this won't be possible, but in others there is often some wiggle room. If you are working for a client, they would much prefer a perfect (but slightly late) solution to a timely but imperfect one. This is not ideally suited to a corporate environment, where multiple stakeholders are depending on your work, but as more and more people branch out into the “gig economy,” the corporate world may need to get a little bit more flexible in terms of its expectations.

As a ghostwriter, I do try to get my blogs out “on time,” and I start thinking about each one that little bit earlier to allow me to do this, but if any given blog isn’t quite there yet, my clients now understand that there may be delays.

Late but great works in their book.