After seeing a segment on CBS’ 60 Minutes on music producer, Rick Rubin, I decided to buy his book, The Creative Act: A Way of Being.

He’s an interesting guy. 

He’s more artist whisperer than producer.  He acknowledges he knows almost nothing about music, doesn’t actually play an instrument and really isn’t interested in pleasing the general public.

In fact, he believes people don’t know what they want, until it’s presented to them, so he’s not interested in churning out more of what’s already out there.

He’s interested in finding what’s different – and setting a path for it.

That’s what he did for Hip Hop, which didn’t exist before he came around.

Rubin is a guru for musicians – he doesn’t tell them what music to make, he helps them find their art in the mess of their thoughts and other noise.

And he’s a master at helping them access their creativity more freely.

One of the techniques he uses is empowerment – artists are a fragile bunch.  Their sensitivity is what makes them great.

But it’s that same sensitivity that creates self-doubt and can undermine their work.

Rubin has a lot of wisdom to share for non-artists too – he believes, and I agree, that we are all creative.

And for any creative pursuit, one must draw out something from within them.

But that internal landscape isn’t always pretty.

He has a strong message when it comes to imperfections.  First, he makes the distinction between imperfections in one’s work vs. imperfections perceived in oneself.

Doubting the quality of your work might, at times, help improve it.

Doubting yourself can lead to a sense of hopelessness.

Rubin tells an interesting parable to illustrate his point about imperfections:

“In Japanese pottery, there’s an artful form of repair called kintsugi.  When a piece of ceramic pottery breaks, rather than trying to restore it to its original condition, the artisan accentuates the fault by using gold to fill the crack.  This beautifully draws attention to where the work was broken, creating a golden vein.  Instead of the flaw diminishing the work, it becomes a focal point, an area of both physical and aesthetic strength.  The scar also tells the story of the piece, chronicling its past experience.”

Beautiful, right?

We can apply this to ourselves.

Whatever insecurities you have can be reframed to be a guiding force in your life.

They only hold you back if they block your ability to share who you really are with the world.

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