It’s not new news to any of us artists/treps who have spent a lifetime working in show business that the conversations we have and the agreements we make with others in our creative industry are often unreliable, unpredictable and fluid at best.
Important because realizing this phenomenon and accepting it will give us a leg up, and help us communicate and negotiate with more clarity, determination and precision.
It’s so easy to get tangled up in what we’re doing. Our to-do list rules the day, the news of the hour dulls our motivation and blurs our creative thinking, and giving away so much time to clicking & cruising fools us into thinking we’re accomplishing something.
That said, it’s what we are “not” doing that could move the dial and make a difference. It’s the confronting work we resist that could produce the breakthrough we so desperately crave. It’s chipping away at all those grand ideas we dream about, that we know deep down inside, that’s what we should be giving our time to today.
Important because if we start doing what we are “not” doing we would probably get much better at doing it more often.
Knowing where you’re going is top priority. The commitment to get there is a very close second.
You don’t need to know how you’re going to get there.
You don’t need to know how you’re going to pay for it.
You don’t need to know who’s going with you.
You don’t even need to know how much, how many, or how come?
You just need to stand tall on your own two feet, point a steady finger in the direction you want to go and make a ruthless commitment that “come hell or high water” you’ll get there.
Important because to the degree your commitment is unwavering, to that degree the important pieces will noticeably reveal themselves. Not like positive thinking, more like constructing a tabletop puzzle.
— Set impossible goals (like balancing on a ball).
— Make a ruthless commitment to achieve the goal. (Elephants are very trusting. She will believe you and commit too).
— Practice! Practice! Practice! (Mostly the trainer). Repetition is key. Master your craft.
— Use compassion as a reward. (Mostly for the trainer. Elephants already have it in their DNA).
— Acknowledge often. (Mostly for the trainer, to build confidence. Helpful for the elephant too).
— Never punish. Neither the trainer nor the elephant…ever.
— Patience. Use it like a verb.
Important because elephants are smarter, stronger, happier and more inspired when they know what the goal is and how to achieve it. Just like their trainers.
Haven’t we read enough books on communication yet? Didn’t we learn anything from all those seminars we took and TED Talks we watched? What will it take for us to realize that miscommunications and misunderstandings disrupt our creative process and slow our projects to a crawl? And why do we allow such pettiness to derail our goals and delay our dreams?
Important because the result of this conversational apathy is that ordinary discussions are misunderstood, urgent documents are poorly written and hastily proofed, important meetings are carelessly organized, deals don’t go down, and the money never makes it to the bank! Meanwhile, attorneys get rich, sorting out the sea of miscommunications and misunderstandings that abound in this industry. Ultimately, it all leads to stress, frustration, anxiety, and needless to say a total waste of time and money. Not to mention the fact that the creative part of our career gets helplessly entangled in the drama and hoopla of the business part! That said, in our everyday interactions with the people we work with, the people we serve, the help we hire and the experts we trust we need to insist on clear, precise communication in every corner of our career, and demand it in every area of our life!
The volume is getting louder and the distractions are getting harder to tune out; news, media, the Trump show, politics, weather, tech, markets, etc. We’re moving further away from productivity and sinking deeper into the hoopla and I’m not sure that the noise train is going to slow down anytime soon.
Important because I am sure of this: that which we give our attention to will scale. That which we give our time to will advance. That which we act on will produce results. If we give our time and attention to our biggest dreams and desired goals, it’s guaranteed we’ll get closer and closer. If we give our time and attention to the distractions of the day, it’s guaranteed we’ll sink deeper and deeper. That which we give our attention to scales.
“This is the only option we have.”
“This is how it really works.”
“There is no other way.”
“Allow me to explain.”
Important because our industry is currently operating in “anything goes” mode where imaginative, ingenious possibilities rule the roost. Therefore, we need to be vigilant of people with answers. We need to be aware of worn out protocol. We need to leave the door wide open for the unimaginable.
Progress is my drug of choice.
Like that feeling you get when you step on a scale and weigh less. It motivates you to lose more.
Like finally working out a complex song lyric or complicated composition. It inspires you to raise the bar on the next one.
Like figuring out an app and realizing how it completely changes the way you do something. It emboldens you to figure out another one.
Like when your new, risky marketing idea produces OMG results, you’re inspired to try more risky ideas.
Important because progress is addicting. Once you experience it you want more. Once you see how far you’ve come you’re driven to go further.
Important because technology continues to disrupt and change everything in our awesome industry with no corner untouched: music, publishing, distribution, management, television, gaming, theater, radio, etc.. Even the old dinosaur gatekeepers have left their post, leaving the rest of us to figure out for ourselves how to break through the invisible barriers to entry.
That said, here are a few essentials that will never change, not like a rigid to-do list, more like a constantly evolving watch list:
— Revisit, redesign, reimagine and recommit to that which you say must be completed, resolved, manifested or begun. Do some personal soul searching and rediscover or reinvent what it is you really want. Remind yourself what truly matters. Remind yourself what your biggest most important dream/goal is. Then ask yourself, “What am I committed to?” Doing this process is really the very beginning and the most essential part of any successful endeavor.
— Review your support team & inner circle (staff, agents, managers, bandmates, sales team, coaches, consultants, techs, partners and toxic people). I know it can be a heavy scene to split with people you work with (and like). However, a heavier scene is continuously putting up with the pettiness and incompetence of others at such an emotional, physical and monetary cost to you and your goals. Don’t flinch or choke on this one. If issues need to be addressed or personnel changes need to be made, don’t be afraid to pull out Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Truth be told, YOU are the CEO of your world. And the goal is to work with the most talented people you can find, who are aligned with your vision and committed to the task at hand, not to wait around for people to change, improve or grow up.
— Assess Your Strategy if you continue to repeat the same tactics and schemes over and over, convincing yourself that you’re doing something different, your fans, customers and clients will move on to something new, your numbers will start to drop, your results will continue to decline, and that dream you have of making it will eventually begin to dwindle…just when you were expecting it to peak. Not budging from your tired old strategy is a lousy strategy.
— Practice Practice Practice! Our craft is everything. Doesn’t matter if it’s composing, performing, directing, acting, writing, consulting, teaching or running a business. We need to continue to improve and get great at the nuts & bolts of what we do, because the nuts & bolts are changing too! And the only way to get great is to lock ourselves in our studio, penthouse office, or creative space and do the work. The deliberate work, the committed work, the focused work, the repetitious boring work, the work that we resist doing, the work that scares the hell out of us, the work that allows us to maintain the awesome lifestyle of a crazy, genius, independent, artist/trep. Because each day we hunker down and do the work, is another day closer to achieving the personal greatness we so desire.
— Don’t Fake It! “TRUTH” is by far the most magnetic and attractive attribute, and we all crave it like a drug. Especially during these crazy “point-the-finger” days when everything is so transparent. If you express the truth in your art, music, business, marketing, writing, life, etc. your fans and customers will follow you, support your mission and join your tribe. If you try to “hype it” they’ll see through the ballyhoo like Superman sees through brick walls.
— Give it back! Giving and receiving are different aspects of the same energy. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep that energy circulating in our lives. Make sense?
Important because every choice we make, every step we take, and every bond we break triggers a series of extraordinary circumstances that will ultimately determine our destiny.
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.