Have you ever found yourself starting the day a lot later than your normal routine called for, and before beating yourself up, decided to give yourself a break and just drop it? You have invoked the unwritten yet valuable rule of the justifiable exception.
This phrase recently came into my life when explaining to a friend, why I did not do what I thought I was supposed to do, but had a good reason. And he cheerfully proclaimed ah a JE “Justifiable Exception”.
Now before you say yeah JE simply means “Justifying your Excuses” lets take a deeper dive here and look at the creative innovative persona while examining the definitions of some of the words involved. Justifiable seems straight forward enough. My Mac Dictionary says – justifiable is an adjective meaning “able to be shown to be right or reasonable”. Immediately this raises the issue of to whom? Hopefully we have enough control over our live’s to answer to “Me”.
Innovators tend to focus on change, taking exception with the status quo, occasionally driving us to become exceptional. My Mac defines exceptional as “a person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or does not follow a rule”
Yup that seems to define the majority of my friends pretty well.
This notion of being able to justify an exception seems particularly powerful to me as most of the important things that happen to us are by definition, exceptions. If you are an innovator denying exception you may be beginning on the path. Of course what seems reasonable to us, may not seem reasonable to others and this is where we can experience a certain amount of discord. In fact some innovators notoriously have difficulty balancing dreams, jobs and relationships making them hard to deal wth.
We can not blame others for not being us. Often times exception is accompanied by its less likable brother exclusion. If you are exceptional you are also likely to be excluded some of the time and may be the one doing the excluding of others. The act of creation in general requires gestation, often a solitary activity but innovation also demands adoption, which demands social skills. Reconciling this dilemma can stress creative individuals, who fortunately being creative and at times exceptional, are able to find workarounds often revolving around dividing ones time between studio, lab or office and coffee shops with good WiFi. We need to gestate and we also need to socialize.
As we move back and forth between being on track and on time, while preserving room for breakthroughs, the concept of the JE justifiable exception seems very useful to me. This can be especially true when you get into a state of flow during which you forget about time and external responsibilities somewhere between one and three in the morning, when you know you should be asleep and this session will almost certainly mess up tomorrow. But you have to ask yourself how much better tomorrow could be if you evoke the JE, Justifiable Exception. Love, creativity and innovation are messy justifiable exceptions, without which my life would not be worth living.
In fact all justifiable exceptions create big messes before getting to the simplicity on the other side of complexity. You have a choice – you can protect yourself from the mess and stay on the simple side before complexity, or you can take the risk, create the mess, and perhaps at least some of the time, get to the simplicity on the other side of complexity.
Or perhaps some of you do not have that choice and are driven to pursue the simplicity on the far side of complexity, because this is an important way to derive meaning in your life. Congratulations you are a messy happy artist!