‘When you do something you’re really proud of, get rid of it and try something else. I had a very good teacher at school who told me this. When you paint something on the canvas you really like, and you’re really proud of, scrape it off, because it’s going to blind you to what you do elsewhere in the painting. It’s actually true to almost anything else in life.’
-Sir James Dyson
You probably recognise the name from the hand dryers in the toilets of every college, public building, museum, airport and restaurant in the world – or maybe you know it from the hoovers (or vacuum cleaners for my American readers) which actually suck up dirt.
Dyson is an interesting guy. It’s rare to see an engineer, a guy that actually designs and makes stuff, also keeping hold of the commercial end of his operation – especially for so long.
We can all learn something from him: about grit, about a restless desire to improve and innovate, about harbouring an absolute refusal to rest on our laurels.
I fall prey to that all the time. Every time I write a post I’m happy with, I find the next one suffers due to lack of preparation, not reading widely or deeply enough. We can only get better by moving on, forging ahead.
This approach of constant destruction and subsequent reinvention was used by one of the greatest stand up comics of our time too – George Carlin.
Each year, he’d consign his previous hour to the scrap heap – despite the critical acclaim, despite the commercial success. Every year, he was forced to go deeper, to look further for his material. And that meant he kept his creative toolbox in excellent condition, his mind sharp and his work only getting better with age.
Don’t rest on your laurels. Scrap the work you’re proudest of. And move forward.
You can steal ideas from everywhere.
I was waiting to get my hair cut today, and forgot my Kindle. So I leafed through some of the magazines, and stumbled across this interview, spawning the idea for today’s post (number 87 in my self imposed ‘100 day of writing’ challenge).
Utilise all your time. Don’t spend it waiting around, passively expecting things to happen to you. Fill it.