Category Archives: Identity
We all get trapped on the creative treadmill eventually.
Running but never getting anywhere new. Executing but never elevating the work.
But when we do, there will always be a ceiling on what we can accomplish. Success will remain asymptotic, always approaching infinity, but never actually getting there. And unless we break the pattern, unless we change the user interface of our realities, we will fail to develop as creators.
In the first ten years of my career, I achieved moderate success writing books and giving speeches. The only problem was, I still wasn’t firing on all cylinders. I still hadn’t found a place that drew out my full ingenuity. Too many assets were going unharvested, and it was eating away at me.
And I remember thinking to myself, if it’s true that there are skills and talents that I have not yet tapped into to create value, then there must be useful strategies for influencing the environment that I have not yet taken advantage of.
Of course. That’s the first step to finding a better approach to success. Recognizing the limitations of our current one. Shedding the popular view of reality.
And that’s exactly why I started writing, producing, directing and scoring this documentary. Because it broke the pattern. It allowed me imagine a different world. To create an alternate reality. To gain a new understanding of the universe. To give my hidden talents a more prominent place in my work. To create a new context from which to relate to the world, one that afforded me the freedom to try other approaches to success.
And what I discovered was, once I engaged with that phenomenon of context––meaning, the environment that determined the limitations of my actions and the scope of the results those actions could produce––it literally altered my being. The experience of making a documentary changed the way I walked through the world.
That’s what happens when we create a new context. We create a new realm of possibility. One that did not previously exist before. One that provides us with a source of power that we did not have before. One that gets us off that goddamn treadmill once and for all.
What context could you create for yourself?
I hired myself to make this movie.
But hiring yourself has nothing to do with employment and everything to do with resourcefulness, enterprise, autonomy and agency.
It’s about accepting that you have to make work for yourself, work that nobody ask you to make. It’s about building enough capital so you can subsidize your own initiatives, both emotionally and financially. And it’s about busting through the walls of permission, meaning, the mental constructs of notenoughness, and acting on your dreams with open eyes.
The hard part is, ambition grosses some people out. When you hire yourself, others might feel disenfranchised by your desire. Because they have no incentive to see you change. They would rather you remain frozen in the position they met you in.
It’s the strangest thing. Not everybody wants you to be successful. In fact, some people are just waiting around, excitedly, for you to fail.
And so, it’s your responsibility to keep moving the story forward.
Are you giving people ammunition to shoot down your ambition?
Life has a funny way of raising our fuel grade.
The rules we navigate by at the beginning shift by the time we get to the end. What we think love is differs from what we find love to be.
But it’s not just a pattern in couples, it’s also a phenomenon in creating.
My original motivation for making a documentary was purely creative. I just wanted to share my art with the world. To build a visual archive of ideas things that were important to me at this stage of my life.
But that was a year ago.
And now that we’ve entered into postproduction and can see the light at the end of the tunnel, new motivations have surfaced. Bigger ones. Better ones. More mature ones.
Now I’m making the movie because it’s an opportunity to fire on all cylinders. To engage in a process that draws out my full ingenuity. To take hidden skills and talents I have not yet tapped into to create value. And to up the emotional, psychological and financial ante, trading in my current success for something better.
I believe that’s why the process has galvanized me in such a profound way.
It’s demanded that I move to a courageous place that I rarely occupy.
How do your original motivations differ from your formed motivations?
Life is only limited by our own prejudices.
Once we destroy them and cease to be at the mercy of ourselves, it’s amazing how many creative doors fly open.
We no longer have to struggle to find an audience for our work. We created our own leverage and built our own stage and manufactured our own opportunities.
Because the modern creator doesn’t need tickets for the starving artist lottery. They no longer have to wait for some invisible jury to stamp heir creative passport and tell them their art is okay.
They go out and create a market for what they love.
Not matter how small that market is.
If size mattered, the dinosaurs would still be around.
When will you voluntarily opt out of the mainstream?
Several years ago, I reached a point of diminishing creative returns as a writer.
I was making one lateral move after another. Running up the score on my creative resume, but never graduating to a whole new level of judgment and wisdom and perspective. Repeating a proven formula for success, but never growing into unknown territory and creating something new.
It was a painful place to arrive as an artist. Like the veteran employee who discovers she doesn’t have ten years of experience, but one year of experience, ten times. Ouch.
And so, I made a deal with myself. If I’m going to execute, I have to elevate. Volume can’t be the only boat that rises with the creative tide. If I’m going to continue my artistic journey, I have to do so ways that excite and exhilarate me.
As a result of this commitment, my entire creative horizon shifted. I started working bigger. The projects grew more ambitious. Instead of just recording another studio album, I began writing, producing and staring in a concert documentary. Instead of just writing another business book, I started building an innovative intellectual property development system.
Like a fine wine, constantly evolving and gaining complexity.
Are you creating things that call on more of your essence?