Do the thing… adequately

Do the thingRecently, we mentioned that sometimes Erin will get one of our mutual tasks done, email me for my thoughts on how it was done, and I’ll write back with just gloriously adequate.

If you don’t know me, it’s the sort of story that may make you never, ever want to meet me, but I think it’s important to explain what I mean here, not to defend Erin’s and my honor, but because being gloriously adequate is critical to getting stuff done and getting to the next thing in your busy, world domination-oriented life.

What does gloriously adequate mean?  It means you got the thing done to all required specifications. The thing is not late. The thing does not have to be reformatted. The thing is not going to embarrass you. The thing is not going to waste anyone’s time. The thing is not going to disappoint anyone. The thing is done — competently and correctly — and now you can move on to things that may require more artistry and exceptionalism.

Gloriously adequate isn’t phoning it in. Gloriously adequate is letting yourself use a sewing machine for a Regency-era dress if you’re making a Halloween costume as opposed to a museum-quality reproduction. Gloriously adequate is saving your dazzling prose for a query letter and just writing something short, sweet, and polite to follow up on a professional issue where a reply is overdue.  Gloriously adequate is the awesome sandwich you made in 5 minutes or less.  Sure it’s not the 5-course meal you’re planning for the holidays, but it doesn’t mean that sandwich isn’t fantastic.

You may be a working artist. You may always want to deliver 110%. But sometimes, you just gotta look at the requirements, meet the requirements, and save the flourishes for where they’re going to do you — and your audience — the most good.

Gloriously adequate is about having an awareness and a sense of humor about this. It’s about knowing you’re your own harshest critic and surviving yourself. And it’s about making due with the tragically small number of hours in every day.

There are a lot of components in success.  But one of them really is knowing when all you need to do is get your card punched.

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