Ending On a Good Note: Creative Tension

Tension is a resource we can manage

[Original post from Quarter Turn’s predecessor, You’re So Venn]

Despite having himself been a basketball star in school, my Dad insisted when I was a kid on conducting one-on-one soccer practices with me. They were the unhappy product of two stubborn people, one of whom had the advantages of age, a resolute patience, and the car keys.

We’d often stay at each drill until I could achieve the requisite number of “good ones.” Sometimes it was ten, sometimes it was twenty, but the goal was the same: end on a good note.

And while it taught me valuable lessons on practice and grit, and ending with something that feels like success, I’ve realized there’s more to it.

As a kid, ending on a good note meant I could be done. Go home, watch TV, play Nintendo. Anything besides being on that field on a Saturday morning.

These days, I know that ending on one good note isn't enough, because where we are in a story matters (and we are the story).

One good note needs to set us up to end on the next good note, and the next.

There is no "done."

Creative Tension

Some years ago I learned about creative tension. Briefly, it’s the tension created by the distance between your current reality and your desired one.

As with any tension, it seeks to be resolved. And looking back, it was how my Dad pushed me, though neither of us thought of it that way at the time.

Tension matters—and it’s a resource we can manage.

Every meeting, interaction, tweet, idea, everything we pursue or choose not to—is part of our story. And if all we’re looking for is to just end on a good note, then we’re not taking the long view. No tension, no gap. Inertia.

The idea of creative tension can teach us to “mind the gap.”

To recognize the potential there is in that reaching feeling. Ending on a good note just means setting ourselves up for success in the next part of our story.

To see today’s efforts through tomorrow’s lens, and to make sure we’ve set the stage our next act.

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