Step Into "What's Next" with Integrity and Intention
Is a sure thing worth pursuing?
What dream or desire would you pursue if its achievement was guaranteed? Go ahead, dream big. Tap your deepest desire.
Now, would an assurance really guarantee your pursuit of that dream or desire? I don't think so.
Work that's worth it can't come with a guarantee because it's the striving that infuses it with meaning and value. Leaning into the work with curiosity and courage helps you forge meaning. Leaping into the arena builds character and resiliency.
Facing fear and uncertainty sharpens the focus and cuts through the noise. The struggle matters because it measures the worth of the work and helps you build its (and your), identity.
You don't need a guarantee, you need to get going. What's stopping you? I guarantee it's not a lack of assurance.
Keep flying higher!
Certainty and confidence are over-rated and the enemies of creativity. I take some flak for asserting this, but I stand by that assertion.
Here's the deal. Creativity is about change. Creativity is about innovation. Creativity is about risk. Creativity is an act of faith driven by an impulse that things can be improved.
Creative acts are executed with the understanding that they might not work. Failure is a distinct and real possibility. And yet, you, creative being that you are, generously lean in and bravely leap into a possibility "as if" there's a better way.
Creative requires courage. The courage of conviction and the courage to step into and influence what happens next. Curiosity, coupled with courage, creates change.
Certainty and confidence, on the other hand, are tied in the tried and true and the status quo. Certainty and confidence are earned by mastering information, systems, and structures that are firmly established.
But far too often...
I've earned my living from playing music on stages large and small. Sometimes for festival audiences of thousands, sometimes to the sound of one fan clapping in a small club. Along the way, I learned a few lessons that inspire and inform other life endeavors. Here are my top 10 lessons learned from the stage that apply to living "the good life."
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,...
I had the great privilege of speaking with Seth Godin for a second time on the Creative On Purpose Broadcast recently. He packed our short time together with a ton of knowledge and insight. But one of the most profound moments was what Seth said about the perils of attachment for creatives (people like us).
I’ve been thinking about this ever since our conversation ended and sharing a few “aha moments” I didn’t see or articulate when Seth suggested I lead off our discussion.
Is the work you do deliberate, inspired, provocative, or significant?
Shouldn’t it be?
What “The Work You’re Meant to Do Now” Is NOT
The work you’re meant to do now is not “what you were born to do.” It’s not the one thing you’re put on the planet for. There is no “one thing” you’re meant to do. There are limitless possible roles for us to play and endless potential jobs for us to do.
We are inherently social creatures born with the capacity for reason and a creative nature. Where and to whom we’re born certainly influences the development of our beliefs, skills, and connections; but at some point, we attain agency over who we are, what we do, and who we associate with.
Discovering the work you’re meant to do now doesn’t “start with why.” It starts with who. You are not the sum of what you do, how you do it, and why you do what you do. It’s the content of your character...
“What Do You Do?”
“What you do” is not necessarily what you do for a living or what you’re employed to do. Too often your “job” employs only hard skills. These are skills you’ve been taught to achieve a specific and measurable outcome.
Hard skills are things we’ve been instructed to use to make widgets, or sales, or repairs or to turn around and instruct others to use. During the industrial economy, acquiring hard skills were required to enter the job market and make a decent living. But with the advent of the digital revolution, the information age, AI, and what Seth Godin calls “the connection economy,” hard skills are becoming increasingly obsolete. Now we need to employ soft skills, or “talents.”
Where hard skills involved physical labor and mental “smarts,” soft skills employ emotional labor and wisdom. The ability to see, hear, and engage...
Are you feeling dissatisfied or frustrated with the work you do now? Feel like you’re not developing or engaging your full potential in whatever endeavor you’re employed? Not executing your full promise?
Maybe you’re wondering, “What’s next?” “What is the work I’m meant to do now?” “What is the work that will help me experience more well-being and fulfillment?”
If these are the kind of questions swirling around your head, you may be tempted to fall into an all-too-familiar trap, pursuing your passion.
What Is “Passion?”
Passion is a result of doing engaging and meaningful work. Passion is not a proper or advisable reason for doing that work.
The path you seek isn’t found on a map. The position you’re searching for is not going to be advertised and no one is going to “pick” you to do it. The work you seek will be earned through persistence and intention coupled with aspiration...
The Power of Acknowledgement
It’s so simple, isn’t it? Someone holds the door open and you say “Thank you.” Someone posts a milestone event or achievement on social media and you “Like” it. You call your folks on a special day. You do this daily, right?
I try. But a new daily practice brings a new depth to my gratitude efforts. Not just saying “thank you” or “Liking” or calling, but intentionally looking for the good in others, connecting and communicating appreciation for a specific gift, lesson or benefit that someone provided to myself or another. Connection, acknowledgment, gratitude. To feel it, you must do it.
The Power of Silence
Ever listened to Miles Davis’ album Kind of Blue? If not, do so, now (you’ll thank me later).
Kind of Blue is the best selling jazz record (ask your parents), of all time. Generally considered the greatest recorded achievement of the iconic...
Creating is simply the act of making something new. However, simple doesn’t mean easy. The creative process can be lonely, intimidating, and fraught with self-doubt. Then comes the hard part...sharing what you made with others.
Do I Have to Share?
That depends. We’re all creatives. We make things, right? We make conversation. We make plans. We make promises, and we make babies. We have absolutely no problem making or sharing these creations. However, when we intentionally create something that will evoke a reaction or even a transformation in others, when we start acting like artists, things change.
Therein lies the rub. All artists are creatives, but not all creatives are artists. Artists create with intention and motivation. They put their creation out into the world. They ship and they deliver the goods.
Artists must share their creations. That's the only way they will get the feedback required to develop and improve their art. Aspiring and advancing artists must...