I’m reading a new book by Tom Peters called “The Little Big Things“, and so far it’s making me think – long and hard about how I pursue Excellence. I often wonder why I obsess over seemingly small details in my work.
Sometimes it’s the framing of a composition and the constant adjustment of my tripod or ball head. There’s this uncomfortable gut feeling that immediately goes away when I know I have it right. I know I can crop or adjust the horizon line afterwards in Lightroom, but why when I know perfectly well what’s wrong?
Sometimes this pursuit keeps me from getting a good night sleep, and I just can’t stop thinking about a different adjustment or interpretation of a print I made the night before. Working late I sometimes grow tired and decide better to leave it for the next day. But somehow it stays in the back of my mind, working to find a solution to what I couldn’t see before. I know it can be better, and until I get there, something just eats away at me.
I’ve taught many workshops, and I’m fairly confident I know the material in my sleep, yet I can’t stop reviewing my notes and doing as much research as I can so that I can be as prepared as possible. What does it matter if I just taught the same workshop a week ago, I always feel I can do a better job in the future.
I’ve often taken frames apart and re-printed an image because I know the “performance” is better, due to practice and hard work. Perhaps no one would notice, especially if I’m exhibiting a print for the first time. But if I know it’s not as Excellent as I can make it, I can’t sell it – simple as that.
Doing the best work I can, and making it as Excellent as I can has always been a paramount motivator for me, and not a day goes by without me being grateful for that. Difficult, challenging, laborious, demanding, and many times frustrating are all aspects of my daily life as a photographer, but striving for Excellence gets me up every single day before sunrise without fail.
Are you pursuing Excellence of some kind in your daily life?