Did you watch the Super Bowl this past Sunday? Whether you’re a fan of Tom Brady or not, he has made an incredible career out of throwing the football. I read that he spends hours in his off season working on minute details in his throwing motion. He’s focused on the throwing, not the catching. I’d say he has that process down pretty well!
I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s book, The Practice. He says that throwing is more important than catching. If you’re good at throwing, the catching takes care of itself. No, it’s not a book about football, it’s about creating art. Art, is the generous act of making things better by doing something that might not work. In creating my work, or my art, my job is to care about my customers, look ahead with confidence, find the pattern and trust the process. I don’t always get the end result. But a lot of the good that happens is in the process. In the book Seth tells a story about going fly fishing for the first time. He asked for a hook without a fly. He didn’t want to be focused on catching a fish. He wanted to focus on casting the line. Not worrying about the end result allowed him to pay attention to and enjoy the process of learning how to fly fish. Are we so focused on the “catch” that we have forgotten about our process and perfecting it? This reminds me to focus on my work with generosity and intent, seeking to make things better. Not worrying so much about getting it right, or meeting the metric for the month.
Here’s a slightly different example of throwing (and not catching) and generosity. Askıda ekmek, which means “bread on a hanger” or “suspended bread,” is Turkey’s ancient tradition of paying it forward. It works like this: You go to a bakery and pay for two loaves of bread but only take one. On paying for the bread, you tell the clerk that one of the loaves is askıda ekmek. Your contribution is bagged and hung together with others so when people come in throughout the day and ask, “Askıda ekmek var mi?” (“Is there bread on the hook?”), they can take a loaf for free.
In a sense, we are all creating art. The only choice is to begin. Begin where you are and trust the process. Let’s throw it out there together!