Being interested in something is not the same as doing something

Steve Lambert wrote a really good essay on the foggy artist phrase “I am interested in” and how that hides the lack of actually doing things.

It doesn’t matter what the effort changed, how many people it reached, what those viewers believe as a result, or if there is an outcome at all because the goal has been set so low and can be achieved too easily. When we state our intentions so ambiguously we’re cheating ourselves.

When goals are stated explicitly, it brings a sense of clarity and purpose. Goals give you focus. When you articulate to yourself and your friends and family in concrete terms “I am going to complete the Bay to Breakers Marathon this year” that is fundamentally different focus than saying “I am interested in running.” The former means you need to start training and if you don’t, you know you won’t be able to complete the run. Whereas, if the most you’ve said to yourself and others is you are “interested in running,” you won’t accomplish much because you haven’t decided you aspire to anything more ambitious.

It really resonated with me – I hear the same bells ring as when I read a book by Derren Brown (courtesy of Cyber Security Expert Robert Pritchard) that pointed out no one knows or cares what you are thinking or who you really are inside. All we know is what you do. You are what you do.

I am the good things and the bad things that I do. All the joy and sadness and bravery and fear that I feel is interesting mainly to me – it’s the things that I do that are who I am in the world.

For artists, being interested in things is easy – doing things is so much more important. Also for non-artists.

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