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A million years. A million monkeys. Thursday July 4, 2013

As an advertising 'creative' I'm paid to come up with ideas. Often, when I tell others what I do for a living the response is 'Oh, I couldn't do that'.

But everyone has an imagination and, with a little education and application, there's no reason why not. The industry is full of people who have learned the trade and competently do a good job. I trust I'm in that number.

However, there are occasions when I sit in awe at the work of others and think to myself, 'That's brilliant. I really couldn't do that!'. And I'm glad.

So much depression is linked to the sense that we should somehow be more, or better, than we are. And though I suspect, like many reading this, I get drawn in to that trap from time to time, it's truly a hiding to nothing.

And seriously, would we want to be perfect?

Imagine having all the talent to knock out a bestseller, leave Usain Bolt in your wake after a little light training and solve the climate change challenge in the space of a few days.

How underwhelming life would be.

Life's so much richer when we let ourselves be blown away by the brilliance of others. By the things we can never, ever imagine ourselves being able to do or be.

I've just finished reading The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of the Window. A kind of Swedish Forrest Gump. I smiled all the way through. I laughed out loud in public. I even spat tea out on the train. And I can't recall the last time a book had that effect.

Given a million years and the help of a million monkeys at a million typewriters, writing such a novel is beyond me. And though I still have ambitions (though the delusion of becoming the first fortysomething to win the Premier League with Arsenal is still among them) there are things I know will never be able to do or be.

And I'm glad.

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Anonymous Thu, Jul 4th 2013 @ 7:31am

I love this idea. I hope I can practice it, think it could make a huge difference.

Jacquie Guess Thu, Jul 4th 2013 @ 8:45am

Thanks Mark - you put into words exactly how I feel - I'll keep your thoughts in mind and just be glad for what I can do - perfectly or imperfectly x

Julia Thu, Jul 4th 2013 @ 9:06am

Yes I like this too but it's very frustrating when you know what you are capable of but most days can't achieve it. This is the case with me. I get the odd day when my creativity is 100%. Most days it's a hard slog and I give up trying to express myself creatively. I get through the day but know what I am missing.
I sometimes wish I had never had these glimpses into my full potential (which came in my early 30s) and just continued to jog along ignorant of those highs.
But I like your style of writing Mark. I could tell today's blog was written by a man before I saw Marks' name at the bottom. It was the paragraph about "knocking out" a bestseller that gave me the clues!

Nicola Thu, Jul 4th 2013 @ 9:16am

What a wonderful article. You may not have knocked out a best seller, but you've made my morning. I'm a planner in advertising and I often feel the same, but what a refreshing way to look at it. The 100 year old man book is one of my favourites too - it shows there's hope for us all to make different choices yet.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Hill Thu, Jul 4th 2013 @ 9:45am

Hey Mark, another great one! I'm going to get that book. Absolutely love your posts - you really lift me up.

Robert Morgan Thu, Jul 4th 2013 @ 10:27am

Brilliant! Thanks for that :-)

Winston Thu, Jul 4th 2013 @ 11:44am

My first blog since joining in May 2011....I had to check that! Wow! I know I don't use this wonderful facility enough and only dip into it from time to time. My loss! However, I have been reading the messages these past few days and they all strike a chord. I have been told by one therapist that my high standards are great but also unhelpful to my recovery. Mark clearly understands (along with member blogs above)how we can drag ourselves down because we don't attain certain levels. Perspective springs to mind and the word IMPERFECTION which I will now take time to think about! It is OK not to be right all the time and it is OK not to be perfect too. Thanks Mark for your article and the book tip!

Julian Blundell Thu, Jul 4th 2013 @ 2:15pm

I know this one well, although I am pretty good at what I do there always seems to be a sort of pressure or background commentary that I should be better or done it faster or something.

Its a good idea to want to do better but this sort of pressure is not healthy, for a start I am only human and cannot be perfect and I suspect this driven thing cannot be fulfilled no matter how good I get.

Jane Thu, Jul 4th 2013 @ 3:34pm

I love that book too, it really is laugh-out-loud funny in places. I've never been on here or commented before, but this was a very timely reminder to go easy on myself and treat 'me' like I happily do others. Thank you Mark

Anonymous Thu, Jul 4th 2013 @ 4:47pm

I read the book in Swedish when it came out there and thought " I want to translate it".
My health has been ruined from trying too hard and having developed the unhealthy attitude that things have to be perfect.

One thing I have realised is that when there is no pressure for me to deliver, I produce amazing results. Does anyone have advice on any techniques they could give me to fool my body into thinking "no pressure"? Adrenaline usually makes me deliver well but I have burnt out that one!!!

Anonymous Fri, Jul 5th 2013 @ 12:31am

Great message - I loved that book too - couldn't put it down!
Had my appraisal at work today & on 3 counts my manager marked me higher than I marked myself - he said about being more generous to others (like your comment about judging creativity in others) than we are to ourselves - I've been told for years that I'm creative and I'm just starting to see it in myself - happy days

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