The Tao of Success

The Tao of Success
(or My Five Worst Personality Traits and How They Drive My Career)

(Baby Madge ponders turning some simple red ribbon into an artistic masterpiece...or maybe she's about to accidentally choke herself. Put down the camera, people!)

I have been thinking lately about what makes me unique and why it matters. This post is meant to get you thinking about what makes you unique and why it matters. I'm thinking out loud, sharing that with you and hoping it inspires you to look at your reality with a slightly different lens. Here are what I used to believe were my five 'worst' personality traits. My current career has been based almost entirely on turning these negative traits into pathways for success. I spent a lot of years trying to overcome these things, then I realized that they are challenges that offer me unique insights into the world around me. Everything in life is about perspective. If you can turn your challenges into triumphs, your life will shift. Trust me.

1. Impatience

I think we've established that I am impatient. You may think I'm exaggerating that trait, but I can assure you that my impatience is legendary. I simply can not stand waiting for things to happen or taking an extended amount of time to focus relentlessly on one tedious task. I look at people who have patience and the amazing things they can do with that and I am endlessly impressed. I used to think my impatience was my achilles heel and truth be told, it was. Then I realized that it's actually the driving force of my creativity. I am constantly looking for the path of least resistance. I will rework a concept in my mind endlessly until I discover a way to get there faster and more efficiently. That's a dichotomy to ponder, I patiently seek the impatient solution! I will never seed bead a car. Ever. I will, however, come up with innovative and interesting ways to use the variety of materials and tools at hand to create my own impatient masterpieces. I joke that I'm either incredibly lazy or a Zen master in training, which is of course, all about perspective.

2. Transparency

I have always lived out loud. I have never been good at hiding my feelings or my opinions. I started talking before I was a year old and some might contend that I have not stopped since. I would assert that the hours and hours I spend in total silence in my studio are evidence to the contrary, but I digress. I am excellent at keeping a secret, but I love to share my ideas and thoughts and experiences with others. That has, on occasion, been a problem for me when I'm surrounded by people who feel threatened or are seeking ideas to claim as their own. It can also be annoying to those around me who are subjected to my snarky rants about this or that bee that has lodged itself in my bonnet. The flip side is that my books, blog and videos have a humorous personal voice that makes people feel as if I'm talking directly to them and not lecturing them from a podium. I show the seams and share the not so fun stuff and I think that really does make people feel empowered to take creative risks.

3. Longing for Connection

Perhaps having moved over 27 times has made me hyper aware of the importance of connection. There have been endless studies that focus on the hard wiring in our brains for connecting strongly with others. That can be a good thing when people come together to elicit positive change or solve problems or create new pathways. It can be a very bad thing when people come together and start creating fear, war, hatred and misunderstanding by exploiting the concept of 'the other.' That deep longing for connecting with others has been a challenge for me at times. I sometimes work to create connections that sound good on paper, but end up being not very positive. I sometimes feel lonely and disconnected Not everyone sees the world as one big interconnected synergistic wonderland and that means some folks will take advantage of those of us who do. As James Taylor once sang "They'll hurt you, then desert you, they'll take your soul if you let them." I am taking that desire for connection these days and turning it into a platform for building my crafty empire. It's a work in progress, but so far it seems to be working out. You, gentle reader, are part of that experiment.

4. Perfectionism

I know, you're thinking, "WHAT?!" How can someone be pathologically impatient AND a perfectionist? Well, my little buttercup, they can. I may not want something to take a long time, but galdangy I want it to look good. I can accept a little snark under the box lid, or a small splodge on the back of a design, but I freak out when there's even a small virtually imperceptible fly in the ointment of my creations. I will resort to a Photoshop fix sometimes, but generally that little buzzing fly will drive me batty until I fix it. I have a very large reject pile. Wanting things to happen quickly drives a lot of my work, wanting them to look good drives a lot of my success. The perfectionism tempers the impatience. It's actually a good balance.

5. Smarty Panties Syndrome

Yes, I'm an insufferable smarty panties. I have an incredibly fast moving brain, which is a great thing for someone who loves learning, but can be a pain in the arse for folks trying to keep up with me! I love research, I love knowledge and I do quite love being right. I'm always right, unless I'm wrong, which is never. Therefore, I am always right. Whatever belief I hold at any given moment is held with absolute conviction. I am, though, very good at listening, debating and being flexible. I make sure I can back up my beliefs with factual information I've gathered by extensive research. If I'm presented with compelling evidence to the contrary, I'm not afraid to change my mind. Being a bag of hot air is not the same as being a smarty panties. I have taken my love of knowledge and turned that into a career where I get to preach about what I believe on a regular basis. It's the Church of Craft and I do love to deliver a good sermon. I'm trying these days not to preach to the choir, though. That's been a challenge!

So, gentle reader, think about five traits that you possess that might, with a little perspective, actually be pathways to your success. We can't really change who we are intrinsically, but we can fine tune and focus our personality in positive ways. I'd love to hear about that, so feel free to leave a comment!



Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [08 Jul 12:00pm GMT]. Thanks, Maria

TesoriTrovati said...

You never cease to amaze me. I am so worshipping at your Church of Craft. I appreciate that the seams are showing and that you are an authority on the subject. And I love this thought about the personality traits that are your weaknesses but also your greatest strengths. I used to lead leadership retreats and one thing that we looked at was the native American idea of the medicine wheel. That which is your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. We explored that in some depth. I think you and I share some of the same traits. Impatience, check. Community-seeking, check. I love to research things, but I don't feel that I know that much so I am not always sharing that position of strength. But if I don't know I will certainly find out. I love the path of least resistance and am basically the biggest procrastinator or perhaps a bit lazy. Whatever it is, it makes me work that much harder under pressure (gallery exhibit looming as proof). Thank you for always sharing yourself so willingly and always, always giving me something meaty to chew on.
Enjoy the day!

Margot Potter said...

It's my pleasure, Erin. I think that the more we share, the more we all grow.


Carol said...

What a wonderful post. I can relate to the concept if not all the personal points. I have always visualized a double edged sword. Your biggest strength is always your biggest weakness, thus the double edge. For example some people have admired my personal strength while others have found it to be intimidating. I do however relate to your having moved many times as I quit counting at 40. I do not have the wonderful class reunions that my friends are now looking forward to but what I do have is a wealth of experiences that astound people when I choose to share them, and the motivation to work on relationships in my life now that I have chosen to 'settle down in one place'. Thanks for the reminder that it is our own attitude that determines which side of the blade is being used.

Eileen The Artful Crafter said...

A wonderful post, Madge. And thank you for leaving some encouraging words on my blog.

Your photo brings to mind a legendary family story about me. As a toddler, I took a pinking sheers to a lovely gray corduroy jumper my mother had made for me.

My mother always encouraged my artistic gifts - my father not at all.

It took me several decades to find my way back to my artistic roots and I couldn't be happier!

Hali Chambers said...

Awesome. This reminds me of what John Morgan says; that your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. And vice-versa! :-) H.

Gail Klingele said...

Your traits describe me to a tee. How can we be so alike? Gail