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Image: Examples of Annyen's work!

The Secret for Success Hidden in a Paper Cut

Let us let you in on a secret: success doesn’t start with one-in-a-million talent or a world-class education. No, the thought leader & artist we’re about to introduce you to has found a method so simple and so effective that you’ll be surprised you haven’t done it yet! Here’s her secret for getting better at almost anything.

We’re all striving to be a better version of ourselves every day, right? But, what if we’re wasting critical time trying to figure out what we’re “born” to do?  Is there a better way to discover these big questions? Here’s one that’s more effective than pondering and planning. Annyen Lam shows us the way.

Image: Examples of Annyen's work!
Pieces of Annyen’s paper cut work!
Source: Annyen Lam

A groundbreaking revelation in a million paper cuts

In 2015, the Toronto-based artist Annyen Lam set herself a challenge: every day she would create a new piece of art. These were no ordinary pieces in charcoal, paint, or pen—no, Annyen’s art started with a piece of paper that, cut by cut, would disappear to reveal a tiny, fragile, beautiful design.

She called her work the Tiny Blades Project and with the precise strokes of an X-Acto blade, she’s created miniature bathtubs, books, chairs, roller coasters, houses, and plants. Every single day she would find a new subject lying within her paper, cut it out, photograph it, and post it online to ensure that she did it again tomorrow.

As she kept at this, something happened. More and more tiny, intricate pieces of paper art came into the world, more and more followers joined her online, and opportunities began to flow as her skills sharpened.

So, what was her simple recipe for success? Here’s Annyen in this fantastic video from CBC Arts!

VIA: CBC Arts 1

Wow! Amazing, isn’t it? You can find more of Annyen’s mind-blowingly thrilling work over on Instagram or by heading over to her website!

And watch more videos from CBC Arts over on their YouTube channel.

“It’s only by actually going through a huge volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap, and your work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.”

— Ira Glass, host of This American Life 2

Maybe there’s a reason “Just Do It” has been Nike’s slogan for decades: maybe just doing the thing, over and over again, can take you further than all your thinking and planning ever could. The more time that we put in, the more that we focus on the process rather than the outcome, the better we will eventually and naturally become!

Sure, pondering who we are and what we stand for can be really positive exercise in shaping what we’re working for, but usually, the answers to those questions are found after we’ve taken the time to step back and survey the work and life we’ve created.

Stop thinking and start doing!

Hoping to have a greener thumb this year? Plant a few containers and see how it goes! Dreaming of being a journalist? Find stories in your neighborhood and report on them daily. Even a piece on the life of the squirrel you see outside of your window every day can help you find your style as a writer and have work to show to others. Want to get better at drawing frogs? Try drawing one every day for a month and you’ll be surprised just how froggy those frogs will become!

Our success doesn’t always come from having a solid game plan. Most of the time, it’s from diving headfirst into the task and seeing where it brings us.

What are you going to dive into next? Maybe a personal challenge like the Tiny Blades Project will give you the right motivation to explore it!

Or maybe, these next folks can show you the way:

Obstacles Can Be Inspiration—Just Look at This Chalk Artist! 

If you’ve ever felt stuck, held back, or like you just couldn’t make sense of the task in front of you, here’s an interesting place to start: your limitations. Using your obstacles for inspiration is just what chalk artist David Zinn does when he needs to break through his creative block. His story proves that perhaps, your roadblocks could be just what you need to create something amazing. 

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Forget Perfection, Here’s the Easiest Way to Form Any New Habit!

Want to create a habit that you can actually keep? This thought leader has a trick that takes the pressure off!

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Unleashing Creativity… A Simple Guide for All

If you’ve ever tried to create something, you know the whole process can be quite frustrating. From finding that great idea to showing the final piece to someone, here are 3 short videos (from a few creative minds you may recognize) that can help us rethink how well we’re doing.

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast

If you’re looking for permission to do something you’ve been thinking about doing, please let this article be your sign! We all want to see you succeed.

As always, my friend, stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

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  1. CBC Arts. “She’s Cut Paper with Tiny Blades Every Day for Two Years.” YouTube, 20 Feb. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=rerbMXRdqoU. Accessed 23 Mar. 2021.
  2. Plamen Panchev Studios. “Ira Glass on the Creative Process”: YouTube, 2 Apr. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHrmKL2XKcE. Accessed 23 Mar. 2021.
Image: Samantha Burns

Sam Burns

Former Editor-In-Chief

Sam wrote and edited hundreds of articles during her time on the Goodness Exchange team from 2016-2021. She wrote about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the Goodness Exchange, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.

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