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Killer Deadlines

yeah, i don’t know. it really is a great photo. 

Deadlines are important, especially for entrepreneurs. They keep us in line and productive, rather than just busy.

We set deadlines because we believe they represent a reasonable amount of time to complete a project. And maybe they are aggressive, in order to push us to move faster. Good stuff. Some deadlines are set in stone, non-negotiable, for good reason. But many are quite arbitrary.

Regardless of who is setting the deadlines, it’s important to remember their purpose. They exist to motivate us and help us achieve our goal.

If your primary goal is to finish the work on time, check it off your list and add it to your list of accomplishments, meeting the deadline is the goal. But if your goal is to create something extraordinary, you’ve got to adapt accordingly. Sometimes that involves going over your deadline. A lot of people prefer to play it safe. If nothing else, at least you were on time.

I’m not driven by a desire to finish the work, collect achievements, beat the competition or finish first. I’m driven by the desire to create something extraordinary. Something artful and soulful. Something that will make people smile.

If you’re not willing to adapt or watch for the opportunities, you’re prohibiting yourself from experiencing something profound. Be wise. Measure it out. Weigh the consequences. But don’t compromise your work. Art is rarely the result of strict adhesion to deadlines.

Too my times I’ve worked on projects where people were so caught up in meeting the deadline that they sabotaged an opportunity to create something extraordinary. So often, rather arbitrary deadlines compromised the work just so we could ship it out the door and be finished. I don’t want to be finished. I want to contribute something beautiful to the world. Most of the time, that last little push past the deadline is where we find that beauty.

I’ll stay within the parameters of a deadline all the way up to the point where it starts to interfere with the art. Then it needs to adapt organically. People stress out so much in their determination to meet the deadline and that stress greatly inhibits their potential to create art.

Meeting a deadline can feel gratifying at the time. But if it compromises your art, is it really benefiting anyone? A week after your deadline, what will your audience care about most? Punctuality or extraordinary art?

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