If we are truly crazy, genius, artists & treps, then we might as well set our goals to Mars. However don’t expect to get there. We’ll either fall short and land on the moon, or travel much further than we ever dreamed and land on Pluto.
Important because when we commit to achieving the impossible, long distance travel is imminent.
While it’s true that continuous chipping away gets you closer to the goal, it’s also nevertheless true that what you’re actually chipping away is everything that doesn’t align with your commitment to advance & succeed. What you’re actually chipping away are activities & behavior that slow your progress to a crawl. What you’re actually chipping away is everything you are no longer willing to put up with.
Important because if you plan to build an elephant in 2018, you need to start chipping away at all the stuff that doesn’t look like an elephant.
Your music, acting, writing, art or film career is where it’s at today because of the daily choices & decisions you made in 2017.
Your business is where it’s at today because of the daily choices & decisions you made in 2017.
Your financial situation is where it’s at today because of the daily choices & decisions you made in 2017.
You are the person you are today because of the daily choices & decisions you made in 2017.
Important because it’s fun to make new years resolutions. I just don’t think they’re very effective or productive. However, I do think it’s very effective to make daily or weekly resolutions. It’s easy to announce, “this will happen next year!” It’s much more productive to proclaim, “this will happen today or this week!”
The young naïve King Arthur once asked the great wizard Merlin why he always wore robes with moons & stars on them. Merlin replied, “Why it’s because everywhere a wizard goes he is always at the center of the universe.”
That said, as 2017 draws to a close, stand in the very center of your crazy, independent, creative career and take a long, deep, honest, look around. Hunt down the petty activates (and people) that distract you from doing your best work. Search and destroy anything that continues to slow your progress. Terminate anything that thwarts your growth or stalls your advancement. Discern weakness at the very core of your creative work, and insist on accuracy and precision in all those who work with or for you.
Important because as the wizard of your world, take an intelligent look at what’s currently wanted and needed, then simply provide it—without fanfare, without praise, and without applause. Not like mythical magic, more like contemporary pragmatism.
The ground is dependable. That’s why we need to stand our ground, even when the ground starts shaking. Here’s how to tell if you’re grounded:
— You’re grounded if you consistently remain ruthlessly committed to your dream, your goal and your mission, even when petty distractions try to tempt you off course.
— You’re grounded if you can actually make smart, well thought out choices and decisions, even if they are last minute.
— You’re grounded if things are progressing, moving forward and getting accomplished—even if it’s a slow evolution.
— You’re grounded if you’re making enough to keep your world financed—even if it’s just enough.
Important because grounded doesn’t mean set, stuck or resolute. What it means is that you’re in touch with reality, even when things seem unreal, and you’re able to intelligently navigate the chutes & ladders that come your way, even when there are more chutes than ladders.
Most of us artists & treps are always searching for deeper truth and honesty wherever we can find it. Not only from our leaders, but also in our art, our business and our careers. Genuineness and authenticity are paramount when you’re running a business, building an empire, or creating something from nothing. And it’s a struggle to find conversations that are free from the continuous hypnotic blather of gossip, rumor, hearsay and drama of the day.
That said, back in the day when I felt like I was being eaten alive by the hoopla of Hollywood, I always found someone to take a deep dive into a bigger conversation with; a mate, a friend, certain employees, certain clients. For me it’s like a drug. I need the fix of a deeper exchange or I’m out of balance—out of whack. I try to surround myself with friends that need the same drug, who prefer more stimulating dialog. I even build in weekly chats with enlightened, transformed associates, colleagues and clients who need the same fix.
Important because I’m afraid if we don’t have a deeper discourse on a regular basis, with like-minded cronies, free from the distraction of everyday, commonplace chinwagging, we can easily lose touch with our dharma, our purpose, what we’re really committed to and what we are capable of achieving.
– What project is screaming at you to be started, completed or manifested?
– What confronting issues need to be addressed, before you can move forward?
– What are you avoiding that you know you should be pursuing?
– What is the truth that continuously whispers to you from deep within, that gets drowned out by all the other noise?
Important because of the mighty resistance that shows up when we artists & treps confront these simple questions.
• Bits & pieces of music & lyrics scrawled on bits & pieces of paper, waiting for their turn to hopefully, someday, contribute to your biggest score.
• Sentences & paragraphs omitted from scripts & stories stand patiently in the wings anxiously awaiting their turn to speak.
• Scribbled concepts, designs, sketches and ideas lie lifeless on a yellow pad anticipating the day when a sudden spark of inspiration will bring them to life.
Important because we must never neglect our backlog of ideas. Unlike turkey these leftovers never rot.
We artists & treps can get so frustrated. However, frustration is a sign that we’re working really hard on something really worthwhile.
I know we can also get filled up with doubt and uncertainty. However, while certainty may point to a hopeful outcome, uncertainty points to unlimited possibilities.
I know it can be costly. However, if what we’re going for is worthwhile, and if what we’re trying to achieve not only benefits us, but also our fans, clients and customers, then the payoff is worth the cost, and the ROI is priceless.
I know it can be defeating. However, defeat shows that we are at least on the playing field—where victory lives. We’re not just on the sidelines hoping to get into the game.
Important because in this scenario there is no downside.
What a crummy slogan: “Let the cards fall where they may.”
Why would you hand over your fate so easily?
Why would you give the cards so much decisive power?
How can you just stand by and let the cards fall, without doing anything about it?
Important because sadly, we still believe we have no control over the cards we are delt.
We do! We care about your art, your business, your inspiring, memorable performances, and your profound, creative offerings. We always care when you give us something great; like a song we have to play over and over, or a video that we must share with others, or an article or blog we have to read more than once, or a TV series that we simply must binge-watch to the very end.
Important because while we care about your work, we don’t care about your financial problems, your personal problems or your hard fought battles with your inner demons. We’re not your pals or your confidants and we’re not included in your inner circle. We’re your fans, clients, devotees and customers. And the one thing we care about most of all is that you give us the very best you’ve got.
Narrow the influence of narrow minds.
Reject the tug of petty distractions.
Quiet the mantra of toxic chatter.
Important because we need all the headspace we can get.
1. Low Expectations: You set the bar too low, thinking that winning the small ones now will give you the courage to go for the big ones later. But that’s a trap.
* Winning the small ones only keeps you stuck in an illusion that you’re getting somewhere. Raise the bar.
2. Knowing too much: Thinking you have all the answers because you have an education, or experience, or money, or previous success.
* There’s no right or wrong road to success today. That’s what the techno revolution is all about—absence of formula! Try waking up in the morning with a “beginners mind” and proceed from there.
3. Inflexible: Rigid, jammed and stuck on how it has to be.
* Holding a firm grip on how the end result must look only blinds you from seeing the unlimited options and possibilities that are available.
4. Unfocused: Fooling yourself into thinking that you have a clear vision of where you’re headed.
* Constantly switching gears and changing direction only prolongs progress. And it doesn’t mater if you’re a fledgling drummer or a corporate exec. Get a clear vision of your big impossible dream and recommit every day…every single day. Not like positive thinking, more like positive doing.
5. Undisciplined: Wasting more energy worrying, wishing, and wondering than actually putting in the time to improve, excel, and advance.
* Put in the time.
6. Stuck in indecision: Unable to make important choices and decisions because you’re afraid of making the wrong choices and decisions.
* Keep the game moving. Do the deep research, gather the facts, then throw the dart…then throw it again…
7. Shaky Confidence: Confidence Is Everything. It trumps experience, rivals talent and beats the beans out of a good education.
* If you can’t find any, fake it!
You can’t convince me that ideas don’t come to you the same way they come to me. The only difference is the gap. That constant streaming download of new ideas & inspiration is always searching for openings or gaps to slip through. The wider the gap the more ideas & solutions can get in. Make sense?
Important because the way to widen the gap and open the floodgates of unlimited possibilities is to loosen our tight grip on the way things MUST turn out, and rethink our circumstances even though we KNOW we’re right. Not like giving up or giving in, more like giving way to alternative thinking and expanded POV.
In the 2011 Cameron Crow film We Bought A Zoo, Matt Damon’s character has lived a (challenging) life with one credo: “All it takes is 20-seconds of insane courage!” And that’s the one line in the script that has stayed with me long after the film met it’s demise—simply because that line is so incredibly potent.
I think about that line when I hear the stories of people doing courageous acts of heroism.
I think about that line especially when I’m confronted with a risky decision or a challenging choice.
I think about that line every time resistance and procrastination stand between me and doing the right thing.
I think about that line just before I have to admit I was wrong, made a mistake, or really screwed up.
Important because I know takes a courageous character to choose the life of an artist or entrepreneur, especially when you know the paycheck may not be equal to your talent, and your best work may be rejected. However, I have learned that when that moment of “do or die” finally arrives, all I really need is 20-seconds of insane courage to mute my inner critic, knock fear on its ass, and send uncertainty scream’n for the door!
Take in to your career (and life) that which inspires you, empowers you, and moves you forward.
Expel out everything that no longer supports you or serves your highest desire.
Important because most artists & treps are quick to take in, but are slow to release.
While it’s the destiny of others to meet expectations and maintain the status quo, it’s the destiny of crazy, genius artists and courageous entrepreneurs to sneak out the side door and head out on the highway, searching for adventure in whatever comes their way.
Important because it’s hard to blend in when you were born to stand out.
It’s frustrating when we stand in the middle of our creative career and confidently point in the direction we’re headed, only to be criticized by those who just don’t understand.
It’s sad when our best effort can’t even get off the ground because others just don’t get it.
Important because we can never stop the ongoing process of inventing and devising clear, clever, honest, articulate ways of explaining who we are, what we have to offer, and what we expect in return.
I have them too! And I’ve noticed that breakdowns and upsets are pretty much always a double-sided affair. On the outside, they’re an inevitable part of life, which manifest in many different forms at unpredictable times. On the inside they can often become a critical, “oh my god!” situation. That mix sets the stage for a crazy-thinking dynamic right from the start.
In closely observing my own challenges, I have noticed two distinct parts of a breakdown that tug & pull with equal strength:
1) The Dark Part: You become hypnotized, traumatized, stunned, stifled and stopped by the drama of the breakdown, and the words hopeless, miserable and confused begin to bounce around between your ears.
2) The Light Part: A strong desire to “get your groove back” and break through the breakdown, so you can get on with the task of building and maintaining a great career/life going forward.
When our attention and energy is primarily directed toward the dark part, we lose our power over the light part. Here’s how to get your power back:
First: Stand up on your own two feet and declare that a breakdown has occurred in your life! Say it out loud and stare at it right in the face! This process alone has power. Not like positive thinking, more like simply declaring the truth about what has been churning inside for too long.
Second: Plant the flag and make a ruthless commitment that come hell or high water you will get through this. Not like wishful thinking, more like taking a profound stand that “enough is enough!” That you are done living in the dark side of the breakdown.
Third: Get to work on fixing what is broken. You can do this. You have the intelligence to fix this. You have the inner wisdom to figure this out. You have the ability to “create” your way out of this breakdown. Stop being afraid of making the wrong move and start moving things around. That alone will get the balling rolling to the light side of the court.
Important because we do our best work when we’re on the field calling the next play and moving the ball forward. Not sitting on the sidelines wishing and wondering how to get back in the game. That said, when we begin to make those tough choices and decisions that we’ve been resisting and avoiding, that starts to move the ball. And once the ball gets rolling we start thinking clearer. And once that happens the breakdown itself begins to breakdown.
Hope this helps…
And the Artist rested, after an exhausting week of battle, some of it physical, most of it mental, all of it worth it.
And the Artist rested, after a confronting week of intimately interacting with others, who for the most part, may not have regarded a word she said.
And the Artist rested, after a weary week of winning some battles, losing others, and feeling indifferent towards the war itself.
And the Artist rested, after a perplexing week of making choices and decisions; not the obvious ones, or even the necessary ones, but the ones that relentlessly confronted her from the inside:
What should I do next?
How can I make this work?
Am I capable of doing this?
What if I’m wrong?
And the Artist laid her weary mind to rest, for just this hour, knowing that soon enough a new hour will beckon a new battle.
I get so many emails about money. Here’s the way I see it (and live it):
While others frantically fret about not having enough, we’ve been handed an unlimited all-access pass to the creative field of ALL possibilities—along with the knack for cooking up ways to make a buck, save it, spend it and give it away. Why us? Because we’re different than the others. We’re crazy, creative, genius, artists, entrepreneurs, and the right hemisphere of our brain fires on all quantum, cellular cylinders. Face it, we’ve had the gift for “making things up” since we were kids. Whether it was turning a rock into a toy, a doll into a princess, or a bag of marbles into a game. And making up ways to make more money is just another game! Here’s a clue: inventing ways of manifesting more money comes from the same creative, divine energy as composing a score, writing a script, portraying a character, painting a picture or devising a new plan to market your business and motivate your team.
Important because instead of relying on the tired, worn-out excuse of “not being able to do your life’s work because of money pressures,” perhaps you could try inventing new, innovative ways to provoke more of it to flow your way. So you can get on with the task of doing your life’s work.
There’s no excuse any more for not getting it right. There’s just so much information available, so many useful tech-tools, so many ways to get the answers we need to take our talent or business to the next level, and so many coaches and consultants to help us get there. However, even with all the answers right in the palm of our hand, we rarely get it perfect.
Important because the creative mind of a crazy, genius artist/entrepreneur is always on the hunt for flaws, searching for imperfections and relentlessly fixing holes where the rain gets in, right up to the final take. Not like perfectionists, more like pragmatists. Simply because we know deep down inside, that while others may be charged with helping us get there, we alone will be held accountable for the final result.
The one thing independent artists & treps have in common is that we worry about our future. A lot! Why? Because we’re charged with making it up day after day from nothing. And every choice we make and every step we take has a profound effect on our careers and our personal lives. Then, we’re held accountable for the process and responsible for the outcome! Jeeeze! It would be much easier to have a high paying 9 to 5 job!
Important because when anxiety about the future keeps you toss’n & turn’n all night, and your insides are shake’n like a leaf on a tree, don’t choke! Stand your inner ground! Anxiety thrives on “What If?” and loathes the truth. And the truth is, you have managed to create your way out of every single problem and challenge you’ve ever had in your entire life, right up to this moment. And for better or worse, you endured. There’s no reason on earth why that trend won’t continue for the rest of your life. Do the deep research, ferret out the facts, then follow your intuition in the direction IT wants to go.
Let’s take a look under the hood: What is the motor that’s driving your desire to succeed? What do you have at stake?
Your reputation? Your income? The survival of your career? Do you have your pride at stake? Your dignity? Are the lives and well-being of others at stake? Do you have your family at stake? Your kids? Do you still need to prove something to somebody; your friends, your family or yourself?
Having something at stake is the greatest of all motivators. It gives purpose, grants meaning and provides reason. It also sharpens focus, validates intention, beefs up resolve and pumps hot adrenalin through your veins.
Having something at stake is not the same as desperation, which provokes “manic panic.” Having something at stake is more like working like there’s something more important to you than just the frills & thrills of victory.
Important because if you don’t have anything at stake, if you’re just going through the motions, then you need to make up a new game. A bigger one. With new rules. With something important at stake. Because not having anything at stake provokes the question: Why Bother?
In the 60’s it was all about tuning in & dropping out. Today it’s all about catching up, choosing sides and fitting in.
Catching up with those who we think are miles ahead.
Fitting in with those who we think have arrived.
Choosing sides with the group that appears to have it right.
Important because if catching up, choosing sides or fitting in hasn’t worked for us, perhaps we should try tuning in & dropping out: Tuning in to that which moves us closer to our goals and dreams. And dropping out of those distracting activities that slow the process, and prevent us from getting there.
Like it or not, if you’re living the life of an independent artist or entrepreneur, you’re alone at the helm. Oh sure, you may have a staff of assistants, band mates, collaborators, partners, a slew of advisors and a great mentor, however the truth is, you’re the architect of your enterprise, the CEO of your world, and the “Don” of your empire. And your personal support team could be terminated at the snap of a finger because you alone make the big “risky” choices and the uncertain, frightening decisions in your life and career.
The life of an artist/trep is truly about self-motivation, self-dependence, self-discipline, self-confidence, and self-validation. As an independent, crazy, creative genius, only you can motivate yourself to get up in the morning and create something that matters. Then, at the end of the day, it’s only you who truly knows what creative angst you’ve been through that day, what “inner” battles you’ve won or lost, who or what has challenged your efforts, and whether or not you surrendered to fear or resistance. At the end of the day, you rarely get an “atta boy” or a “you go girl,” because when your muse has given everything she’s got, it’s really only you who can acknowledge yourself for not giving up and surrendering to the pettiness of others or the pressures of money—whether you have too much or too little.
Important because solitude is a place to contemplate your most important work, not a place to hide from it.
I was sitting at Coffee Bean with a client who is a very successful P.R. person, and we were discussing her “willingness” to do what ever it takes to grow her company and expand her client roster. Finally I suggested that a conversation about what she was “unwilling” to do could be more interesting and valuable. At that point there was a pause the size of the Grand Canyon, and the dialog immediately shifted to the land of resistance and denial—which led to this question:
What are you “unwilling” to do to forward your art or enterprise?
— Are you unwilling to be the one to “step up” and resolve any communication breakdowns or personal/business conflicts with your partners, team, clients, band mates or board members that may be stalling or stopping the progress of your project?
— Are you unwilling to relax your tight grip on the way things were, and begin to embrace the way things are—especially with regard to technology, and the many changes currently disrupting our industry?
— Are you unwilling to give up being so desperately right about so many things (which only cause your artistic projects and entrepreneurial ventures to lose traction, fall behind and stress you out)?
— Are you unwilling to give up “guessing” and “self-diagnosing” on matters that only an (outside) expert should address? Especially during these challenging economic times when accuracy, productivity and efficiency are so vital.
— Are you unwilling to put at risk who you are for who you could become, even if it meant starting over?
Important because it’s so easy to proclaim what we’re willing to do, and so revealing to expose what we’re not.
Reworked from a story I wrote in 2012.
The game called “two steps forward, one step back” is rigged.
We take the two steps forward in stride. After all, those two steps forward are taking us in the direction we want to go. However, most people get hung up on the one step back. It makes us crazy. It feels like a failure. It suggests that we’re slowing down and not keeping up.
Important because if the game were completely fair it would be called “one step forward, one step back.” But it’s not a fair game. If it were, we wouldn’t get anywhere.
What style? What color? What size? How Much? Why buy?
For the especially talented artist, every choice is plagued with an endless, agonizing stream of perpetual possibilities. And for the super smart, risk-taking entrepreneur, every decision is overwrought with limitless, time-taxing, number crunching options. It can all be so overwhelming that most often, important choices and decisions remain on the back burner, simmering in a stew of indecision and procrastination.
Important because life is short, buy the shoes.
While The Cautious allow themselves to be easily distracted by social media, mainstream media, and the jaw dropping headline of the day, The Determined allow themselves to be consumed with their art, buried in their work, and overwhelmed with their big, worthwhile goals and dreams.
While The Cautious remain cautious about the economy and anxious about the future, The Determined are stepping out onto the skinny branches, making tough choices, confronting impossible decisions and taking big risks.
While The Cautious scratch their heads and wonder what to do next, The Determined are getting their hands dirty reworking their best work, growing their base, upgrading their websites and tech-tools, and relentlessly improving their craft and honing their skills.
Important because while The Cautious pause at the end of the day to admire their work, The Determined are burnt out at the end of the day working to improve theirs.
No matter how great a musician you are, you’re still mortal. That’s why they say “Take 2.”
No matter how skilled a writer you are, you’re still fallible. That’s why they call it “rewriting.”
No matter how successful a leader you are, your brilliant ideas will still meet with forceful resistance. That’s why they say “You may lose the battle but win the war.”
No matter how smart, good looking and talented you are, you will still smash head-on into brick walls.
Important because for some reason we artists & entrepreneurs need to be reminded that we are still only human.
An amateur takes failure personally and often builds it into a case for why he’s not a success.
A professional sees failure as an idea that didn’t work and she builds it into a case for further research and ultimately another attempt.
Important because the fact that our attempt failed is not a reflection of our worth as an artist or entrepreneur…or a human being. Just because you haven’t figured out a successful way of doing something (yet) doesn’t mean you are a failure. The idea just didn’t work. It’s a failure—and failures can be fixed.