A softer approach can lead to more success in reaching creative goals.


  Written by: Angie Noll

How often do you find yourself working very hard, at your art and at life around it, giving your all, only to find that you seem to be receiving very little in return?

If you’re an artist, this can feel a bit like the story of your life right now. You put so much into your art — carving out time, producing it, staying inspired, selling and marketing it —while still having a life in between.

Why do we work so damn hard?

We often feel like there is no other choice. The reality is simple: we have bills to pay and a burning desire to create pounding in our hearts. The only way to manage both is to stop complaining and push harder.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

An alternative approach

Just like water gently wears away at rocks, I’m a big believer and proponent of the idea that once we slow down and approach things gently we get more done. I practise this philosophy in my own life and am constantly amazed by the ease with which I can actually get stuff done, like writing daily for a few hours when I initially thought I had no time at all.

Of course, there’s a lot more to it than just backing off, but for now, I wanted to plant the seed in your mind that there is another way to achieve your creative goals — it’s effective and doesn’t have to cost you your health, your relationships or your dreams.

The following story is taken from:

One Hundred Wisdom Stories From Around The World

by Margaret Silf.

Once upon a time, there was a piece of iron that was very strong. One after another, the axe, the saw, the hammer and the flame tried to break it.

“I’ll master it,” said the axe. Its blows fell heavily on the iron, but every blow made its edge blunter, until it ceased to strike.

“Leave it to me,” said the saw, and it worked backwards and forwards on the iron’s surface until its jagged teeth were all worn and broken. Then it fell aside.

“Ah,” said the hammer. “I knew you wouldn’t succeed. I’ll show you the way.’ But at the first blow, off flew its head and the iron remained as before.

“Shall I try?” asked the small, soft flame.

“Forget it,” all replied. “What can you do?”

But the flame curled around the iron, embraced it and never left it until the iron melted under the flame’s irresistible influence.

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