Old tapes

“I’m not good enough.”

Or smart enough.

Or rich enough.

Or fit enough.

These are old tapes.

Played in our heads over and over again.

Instead, insert a new tape.

A new dialogue about ourselves in the world.

Try it.

When down on yourself, notice the voice in your head and what it is doing.

Say it out loud to yourself, “Old tape.”

Take a couple breaths and insert a new narrative.

Intuitors

Intuitors can make the mistake of making fun the main priority.

It might supposed to be fun.

Like going to the beach.

But making a film? Or going to the gym? Or running a marathon?

Well, yeah it can be fun but it may also is work too.

If all we emphasize is fun, then when things get hard (and not so fun anymore), people quit.

Be clear.

Work. Work when it gets hard and have fun.

Gold standard

The artist, the impresario, the ruckus maker can make others feel really uncomfortable, especially the critic who wishes they could be in their shoes. Much of that type of criticism is rooted in jealousy or aimed toward the artist rather than the work itself. The person who understands what the artist is trying to do and is offering their perspective is invaluable.

The critic compulsively compares. It is that comparison that kills joy. If you can’t stop comparing the new Batman to the Dark Knight, you probably didn’t enjoy the movie as much as you could. It’s easy to compare to what others see as the gold standard. (Good work often goes unnoticed.) The problem is you will always find someone with more followers or more money or more impact. There is just no need to compare.

If the artist is satisfied with whom they made an impact, there is no need to minimize the work.

Making art makes a difference. No matter how small. It is only small because of the comparison we choose to make. “Oh you got 100 people to like this blog, well the Kardashians get a million.” Good for them. But did it matter? That’s obviously up to debate. Instead of comparing to the gold standard, we can also choose to compare with someone who hasn’t shipped their best work. Or, even better, don’t worry about comparing at all and just get to work. That is what professionals do.

“Leave me alone”

Flowing Data has a great graph showing who we spend our time with as we get older.

As you might guess, we spend more time with our parents in the early years. As we get older, we spend more time with friends in high school and co-workers in the working years.

The part that was shocking to me is the time we spend alone the older we get. Presumably, we have more time and yet we spend it less with others. People are retired, they are not going to the office, there are no bosses or customers, and the kids have moved on–perhaps there is less opportunity.

It says a lot about our culture and how we value our elders.

No one to listen

When a tree falls, it still makes a sound. Even if no one is there to hear it.

And it’s the same with your art. Just because people are not seeing it doesn’t make it any less generous.

No need to give up. You can always try again.

Emphasis on process rather than outcomes

Our culture continues to become more and more complicated each day. Sometimes, the “right” answers are not apparent. And sometimes what we think are the right answers end up failing spectacularly.

It requires patience. The problem is tensions continue to grow in unresolved conflict. Rather than letting the loon noises get away from us, we can instead focus on the process.

While favorable outcomes to adversity are nice, we can’t expect those types of results anytime. When we focus on the process, we are no longer attached to the outcomes. And when we can be at peace with outcomes, we are free to do the work we always wanted to do.

Compassion over power

The other day, I could see a host of ants gathering near the base of the garbage can coming from a nearby crack in the concrete.

My first reaction was to go grab a spray. Wisely, instead, I moved the garbage can 4 feet over and they magically went away. No food source, no ants.

Our first instinct can sometimes steer us towards violence. That’s is sort of what humans do, right? (Fight or flight.) There are more solutions than we can imagine if we just stop and think.

Indeed, it is truly easy to let power go to our heads.

Flowers and humans

No one demands a flower to grow. They just do. With no rhyme or reason, they do it to multiply and survive.

Humans are such unique creatures. Because our only goal isn’t just to produce offspring and to survive. Survival of the Fittest is certainly abundant in our culture. Just look at the Gordon Geckos of Wall Street.

And yet, we can also choose to pull out of this rat race we have created. Our biology demands more but we can also use our hearts to say enough. Not only that, we can choose to give our resources to help those who don’t have plenty.

That makes us more unique than we even realize. Having empathy is what makes us human.

The ego can’t get out of the way

It is told that Sir Galahad, one of the three Arthurian knights who finds the Holy Grail, succeeded in finding immortality.

But immortality is a curse if you think about it–all the people you would have to say goodbye to.

People don’t want to live forever. It is our egos that can’t get over the fact that nothing lasts forever.