Do You Know That You’re Lying?
“Let’s start with a quick poll. Raise your hand if you’re a Creative. Great! If your hand is raised, put it back down. Now, raise your hand if you’re not a Creative. That's interesting. Keep your hand raised. Alright, if your hand is raised, keep it raised if you know you’re lying…!”
This poll is how I open my workshops on becoming a “bulletproof creative” (aka a Thriving Artist). The results are always about the same. One-third raise their hands to the opening query, another third to the next, and the final third to the last (often with nervous laughter).
We Are All Creatives
Here’s the deal: everyone is a Creative. A Creative is simply someone who brings something into the world that didn’t previously exist. Every time you make a meal, make a mess, or make amends, you’ve engaged in an act of creation. Creating is an everyday human activity.
Whether you’re a musician, writer, painter, parent, teacher, or an entrepreneur or employee, we are all Creatives. And we can all become Artists in whatever we do if we choose to develop our craft and deliver our work.
The Distinction Between Creative and Artist
Artists are Creatives who develop their craft with greater intention, but the defining difference is that Artists share their work with others. They put it out there with a specific aspiration in mind—and they do so knowing it might not work.
It takes courage to offer your work to someone. “Here, I made this. I hope you like it.” Once you do, all bets are off. It’s an act of generosity and vulnerability. It’s not for everybody.
But if you want to fulfill your potential as a Creative (and as a human being), you must strive to become an Artist. When you adopt that posture, the journey begins. If you want to experience a greater sense of flourishing and equanimity along the way, you’ll need to grasp the difference between criticism and feedback. More on that in the next chapter.
By the way, if you haven’t yet, go ahead and put your hand down… it’s time to move on!
You have everything you need to fulfill your potential as a happy, healthy, and engaged human being. You possess reason, a social instinct, and a creative capacity. Everything you need to develop your craft and deliver better work to the right people with a bigger impact is already in your possession!
Adopt the posture and mindset of a thriving Artist and start shipping your work. Stand where people can see you, speak your truth out loud, and generously share your gifts.
“If you didn’t learn these things in order to demonstrate them in practice, what did you learn them for?” – Epictetus
More on all this on the following pages. But first, do this now!
An essential Stoic practice is being grateful for what you already have. Not material possessions, but the everyday gifts.
Make a list of people you are grateful to have in your life: parents who provided you with life, teachers who have guided you, and friends who support you. You could list rivals and competitors who challenge you because they make you stronger and more determined.
Write down the life tools you possess such as the gift of language and the connection it creates.
Write down anything that helps enhance your life in a basic and essential way. Keep this list handy! Pull it out when you feel grumpy, frustrated, or scared—to remind yourself that even when times are tough, you’ve got a pretty d*mn good life!
This is exactly how the best known Stoic, Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome, began his journal, The Meditations. He thanked his family, friends, and teachers and listed the gifts they bestowed upon him.
To enhance the value of this exercise, connect with some of the people on your list. In person, if you’re able, by phone if you’re not. Don’t settle for a text, message, or email. Tell them that you’re grateful for them, and why. Ready for what’s next? Me, too! Let’s leap!
A Note from the Author
This is the second chapter of The Stoic Creative.
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