Keeping Up Appearances: the Art of Leaning on the Last Good Day
How long ago was your last dry spell? Because some days I am on fire and other days I am a human plugging numbers into a screen at a human pace, sipping coffee and getting distracted along the way. Rarely do I truly get nothing accomplished, but sometimes mere mortal productivity feels like snail movement when your normal style can best be described as "a hurricane on speed." I end up equating myself to a zipper missing teeth; even if you get close to the end, you have to go back and start again if you want to get the full effect. I can do this a lot before finally completing a project, making the product average and the process more than infuriating.
During these slow zippers of lull, I am learning to lean on the knowledge that my work is good and my reputation as a do-er doesn't get trumped simply by being a person. I consider this essential to my sanity, but I also consider it essential to my reputation itself; getting caught up in a spiral about the speed does nothing to increase the speed, and is a far more public way to suffer. Keeping up appearances until the lull reaches a natural end is the most effective way for me to mitigate damage. After all, I LIKE being a hurricane; can't have the other mortals knowing I also have "off" days, can I?
It isn't just about putting on a pretty dress and doing my hair. (Although it certainly helps to feel professional if you're attempting to emulate your most professional self!) What helps me is to re-inspire my self-confidence by reflecting on past victories and speaking with people who believe in me, who have seen my good work on my best days and usually for a multitude of years. A new colleague might not understand what a ten-year dedication to a single mission looks like or why it shakes me to lose sight of it, but an old contact will, and when the old contacts tell the new contacts, that's when magic happens and reputations build. Hearing good things about your work from people who saw your on your LGD ("last good day," she says with a roll of her eyes, reveling in her own overblown sense of the dramatic) can have a sweetly calming effect on your chaos. A trusted source saying positive things is a salve for the oversensitive soul.
Don't stop working, but DO stop worrying. Inspiration is on its way and if you have to be still enough to listen in order to hear it to its full extent, then for goodness' sake, be still. Keep your head up, throw your shoulders back, and remember that you ARE the storm; stillness is only the precursor to movement, bold and inspired forward motion, and you are defined by so much more than your slowest day.