I recently sat down with Joey Cofone, Co-Founder, and CEO of Baronfig. Joey is an award-winning graphic designer based in New York. Joey’s work appeals to curious minds. He’s released his new book The Laws of Creativity where he helps us uncover the thinking and science behind the creative process and gets us thinking in a whole new way.
How To Turn Skill Into Mastery
How does skill turn to mastery? When we understand the universe of what’s possible, we approach our skill with 3-dimensional calculations. Meaning, we see it all. When everyone else around us is buzzing and trying to figure it out, we move slowly. We see it all at a macro level and it’s natural for us.
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Mastering something, anything is a huge benefit in life. The skill of mastery helps us grow. Once we understand the macro concept of mastery of our skill we can apply it to other areas of life. It becomes much easier to do it more quickly and expedite mastering new skills. We know when we’re on the right path because we recognize mastery and know how it feels.
We can take what we know from mastery and then apply it to the creative act of building a business or other areas of our life. While it may take us time to master something new, we know what it feels like. We see it when we’re approaching mastery of a skill or when we see it in others. It makes it easier to connect with the right people for mentorship and collaboration.
We may have a surprising feeling when we know more about our topic/skill than we realize. We all take a lot for granted, and when we share with others it becomes clear how much we’ve mastered. There’s a turning point that happens from having a skill to mastering it, and it takes time.
What stops a lot of people is the idea of perfectionism. The culture of perfectionism tells us we should start at mastery, and that’s not how it works. When we see people’s finished products on Instagram we forget that it took them 10 years to reach their mastery. We all want it now.
For any of us to reach our mastery we’re putting in the time and effort and we’re connecting with others in a broader community. We need to recognize that we don’t need to do everything to perfection to reach it.
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Permission To Suck When Learning Something New
We’re going to suck when learning something new and that’s ok. It’s a humbling and brutal experience to pick up anything new. To even consider mastery at anything we’re starting at the beginning of many things. We need to be open to sucking and have the willingness to suck at something to see growth.
As a creative individual being stagnant is not an option. We’re looking for the depth and richness in life that growth provides. Well, we’ve got to be humble and ready to fail if we want to grow in any area of life.
It’s the willingness to start at zero that gives us the opportunity for growth. We’ve got to remember what it’s like to start something. We don’t start as a master. We can use what we’ve already got in our toolbox, the skills, and tools we’ve already developed. Then apply it to our next thing.
Allowing the room to suck, and giving ourselves permission to do it wrong is what counts. We’ve got to make garbage before making something good.
Let’s scratch the idea that we’re going to make something good the first time. Something incredible happens when we stop treating our creativity as too precious. We’ve got to be willing to make the terrible stuff and be willing to show it for it to grow into something good. It all starts with the rough idea, we’ve got to get to that first.
Letting What’s Inside, Out
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What’s inside has got to come out. If we’re lucky it’s something weird. Over the years we’ve all heard that to be different or strange is a bad thing. The truth is, unless it’s harming others it’s not bad, it’s brave. People who let what’s on the inside out are brave. Their inner weirdness is their biggest strength.
Being creative is about letting what’s inside out. It’s about us accepting what we have and committing to the idea that it’s valuable and should not be hidden. We see the value in others we admire who’ve figured this out. We see people leading their creative lives and we see their weirdness and celebrate it. When it comes to breaking out of our own bubble it’s a bit harder to celebrate.
It may take a ton of habit-breaking to let it all out. By stepping outside society’s expectations, we can unleash a whole new level of creativity.
Not everyone will support us in exploring new ideas. We make people uncomfortable when we step out into something new. Not everyone will be the right person to share our new stuff with. Other people want us to play it safe and stay in our zone.
We’ve got to let what’s inside out, and if trying something new is within us, then it’s ours to create.
Don’t Give Up
We’re going to face hardship. Whatever we’re doing in life, we all will go through shit at some point. We all have our version of hardship.
The idea that hardships won’t appear makes us feel wrong when we’re going through them. The bad stuff happens.
Our hardships will test us. They’ll show us what we’re made of and how to succeed through moments of difficulty and despair. That’s our task.
Joey shares a great story in his book, The Laws of Creativity that resonates deeply with the topic. Joey explains how he perseveres through hardships. “It was gratitude for the past and perspective for the present, and optimism for the future.’
The ability to not give up is what is ultimately tied to success more than talent or anything else. It’s the grit that gets us through.
Failure and Success Are Directly Proportional
A great secret to success is when we learn that we don’t have to do everything the hard way.
On a scale of 1-10, the idea that we have to do everything at an 11 is false. More than false, it’s a belief that stops a lot of people from starting. The culture of perfectionism says we’ve got to be at an 11.
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When Joey was developing his business he was creative and he was wearing the entrepreneurial hat. He had to be willing to develop and release something he thought was crappy for a bigger cause. Joey shares with me in detail about the time he released his crappy site for his company Baronfig. He even heard the jokes from others, but he knew something we can all learn. He was a creative who was now also an entrepreneur. He had to let the creative perfection go for the entrepreneurial pursuit and task. He released the crappy site more out of necessity and entrepreneurial goals. Then he could focus on other things. The site wasn’t an 11 but he let it live anyways.
We see this in the creative field. We all want our best work out there, but the good work is relative to how much bad work we’ve done. The question is are we doing enough shitty work to get to the good stuff?
Joey’s crappy website was a driving factor in how the company gained momentum. He had to get over the hurdle of perfecting all areas of a creative business and be willing to hit “go” and then keep going.
The question we all have to explore is whether we’re making enough bad work. Because we go from the garbage to the good when we accept the fact that a lot of the stuff we do will be crap.
Our challenge is to be ok with getting it wrong or bad. When we understand we’re not going to get it right the first time, that’s the turning point.
We all hear about quality over quantity. How we arrive at quality is through quantity. So, make something, make more, and the more we do that the closer we are to making something good.