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Previously in CreativeBoost, I shared some thoughts with you about the importance of growing small: that an undiminished self holds you back and can be a recipe for unhappiness. 

Our ego would have us believe that the self is like the sprawling limbs of a large tree. And that the work we do is represented by thousands of tiny leaves budding on every branch of that tree.

But look what happens when we believe the reverse: that we allow our self to be just one small leaf, giving life to our craft and to the body of work that forms the limbs of that tree. It puts us in service to the work itself and to the needs of others. 

This way of looking at things gives us the best chance at meaningful growth as a creative pro.

But what does meaningful mean? 

I like the way that Thomas Merton answers that question. He says what we need to do is get at “the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

Fruitful.
Not effective or efficient.

So why the distinction?

Because just like the dangers of the unchecked self, we undercut the potential of our craft if all we ever do is produce work that's designed strictly to be effective or efficient. We each are meant to do more than that with our talents.

Educator and activist Parker Palmer had Merton’s words in mind when he noted: “the tighter we cling to the norm of effectiveness, the smaller the tasks we going to take on. Because they’re the only ones with which you can be effective.”
 
Those roots of inner wisdom do not just grow on their own. It’s a choice.

And that growth happens only when we leave time to disengage from the narrow, busy work of efficiency and effective outcomes.
 
Fruitful work is slow. It doesn’t produce high volumes in minimal time.

But just like in our forests, it does produce the hardest wood that endures. 
 
Very best, 
Patrick

P.S. We all grow wiser when we share what we know. Do that now by clicking on either of the share buttons below. 
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