After watching Bones Brigade this weekend I decided to learn more about Rodney Mullen. I particularly enjoyed this excerpt from his TED talk about competing and winning early on in his freestyle skating career:
I think I was on tour when I, I was reading one of the Feynman biographies. It was the red one or the blue one. And he made this statement that was so profound to me. It was that the Nobel Prize was the tombstone on all great work, and it resonated because I had won 35 out of 36 contests that I’d entered over 11 years, and it made me bananas. In fact, winning isn’t the word. I won it once. The rest of the time, you’re just defending, and you get into this, like, turtle posture, you know? Where you’re not doing. It usurped the joy of what I loved to do because I was no longer doing it to create and have fun, and when it died out from under me, that was one of the most liberating things because I could create.
The creative process is most exhausting when you have to do a million little things to meet expectations (self-imposed or external) before you can begin to break new ground. It’s like the further you go, the more boxes you have to check before you can return to that intersection of quality and brand new. Sometimes you have to abandon the idea of standards if you want to set a new one.