In February my wife and I took a trip to Nashville. It was a quick trip that included as many of the must stop places we could fit into our schedule: lunch at Biscuit Love, a concert at the Ryman Auditorium, a visit to a recording studio, and many other cool experiences. However, our most valuable stop was at the Bluebird Café, a spot known for its “heroes behind the hits” type of singer/songwriter listings.
Three songwriters were sharing their music while talking about their lives and their careers. It was magical to be in that moment — in addition to the great stories and tunes, they were dropping pearls of wisdom. I took note of many, but this one really hit me: “There are two things you need to know when you write a song: when you are done and when you are not done.”
What a powerful statement that applies to a lot of the creative and subjective pursuits in our industry and our lives:
Schematic design concepts explored, evaluated and iterated, not forever caught in perfecting.
Estimating to a point of thorough understanding, not just applying rules of thumb and adding it up to get the answer.
Preparing to execute work by planning to the point of detailed understanding and a game plan, not just starting work because it’s available.
Timely decision-making with the necessary information in-hand, without needing every minute detail to make the call.
Writing a StoryLine column to the point of making a point, yet not over complicating it.
As leaders, we set the tone for the standards in our organizations about when we are done and when we are not done. What a great and important conversation to have. Every circumstance is really evaluated by the artist in the middle of the work with the help of the supporting cast around them. When are you done and when are you not done? Thanks Nashville. (I’m done.)