Lessons & Resources for Continuing a Thriving Artist's Journey
In the work you do, what do you fear most? Is it failure, inadequacy, irrelevance, obscurity, poverty? Perhaps it's "all the above."
You don't have to live in, or even with, any of these concerns. And you should certainly never act in response to them!
The creative life is fraught with challenges, uncertainty, and obstacles that are beyond your control. But you do control the most important asset required to thrive in any situation or circumstance. What asset is that?
Your mindset. The way you perceive "the game."
And just three words can reframe any state of affairs and turn challenges into instruction, uncertainty into confidence, and obstacles into opportunities.
Three Little Words
"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose
our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Viktor E. Frankl
When the going gets tough, the...
It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows." - Epictetus
We are driven by our beliefs. We live by them and die for them. And far too often we cleave to them in the face of evidence that they are not absolutes or even true. We believe that our beliefs define who we are and seek out those who believe what we believe and turn up our nose at, or even rail against, those who do not. But here's the thing...,
beliefs are bogus.
Not always, of course, but far more often than we care to admit. Sadly, these bogus beliefs are usually the ones we cling to most desperately. And this dynamic is doing immense harm to our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It's destroying our relationships and, indeed, the planet on which we live.
What to do? It's time we seek out what really defines us. Our values speak to who we truly are.
What's the Difference?
Beliefs are nothing more than opinion or conviction. An internal feeling that...
If you have a minute, I’d like to tell you a quick story.
If you check out The Stoic Creative Handbook on Amazon, you’ll probably take note of this 5-star review.
“Scott will open your eyes to a different way of doing work that matters. His generous, persistent, consistent belief in our ability to level up and contribute comes through. This is time well spent.” Seth Godin
Yes, that review came from the Seth Godin. Seth is the best-selling author of Purple Cow and 17 other books, the creator of the altMBA and The Marketing Seminar, and the longest-running and most read blogger I know.
He’s also one of my heroes.
“How Did You Get Seth Godin to Review Your Handbook?”
I get this question a lot!
The truth is, I didn’t “get” Seth to do anything! I never even asked him to look at my Handbook!
A Bit of Back Story
I am an altMBA6 graduate and was invited by Seth to participate in the first run of The Marketing Seminar in the summer...
Let's start by being real. Creativity is not hard. Neither is empathy. They are both natural human impulses.
Watch what a child does when presented with crayons and paper and you'll witness our creative nature in action. The way that child behaves toward a playmate in distress reveals our empathetic impulse.
What Is Creativity?
Creativity is simply the act of bringing 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. Creativity is an everyday human activity.
In The Stoic Creative Handbook, I assert that creativity rises to artistry when we engage our creative capacity with a clear motivation, greater intention, and precise aspiration for a specific audience.
Art involves connecting, communicating, and collaborating with others. That's where things start to get messy because emotional labor is involved. And that's...
“We can proudly use price as a signal to tell people what we think about what we sell.” Seth Godin, The Marketing Seminar
What’s It For?
That thing you’re making. That service you provide. That idea you have. What’s it for? What’s your motivation for sharing it? Who’s it for? What’s your intended impact?
Here are some considerations. Do you want people to appreciate it or value it?Are you looking for engagement or enrollment? Are you seeking their interest or their investment?
Free Vs. Paid
Free attracts appreciation, engagement, and interest, but rarely leads to perceived value, active enrollment, or meaningful investment. Free attracts browsers, not buyers. If what you create has value, works better when users are engaged, and is enhanced through the investment made by users, then giving it away is doing far more harm than good. It’s confusing both you, the producer, and you prospective consumer.
If it’s valuable, why are...
What if you did great work? What if you performed at a higher level? What if you served the right people? What if you worked with and learned directly from those who inspire you?
These are the questions I ask myself. I feel guilty asking them. I do, after all, already do work I love as a professional guitarist and teacher. It's meaningful work and I enjoy the people I work with. Why challenge what’s clearly working well enough?
People Like Us Do Things Like This
That's it. If you believe in achieving excellence in any endeavor, including being the best human being you can possibly be, what you've already achieved is never enough. You're always asking yourself, "What else?" or "What's next?"
You think about it. You talk about it. You try things. Eventually "what else" or "what's next" starts to come into focus. And suddenly you find yourself doing that.
For me, it was writing The Stoic Creative Handbook. A work dedicated to helping struggling Creatives become...
Yes, I know you’re terribly busy. So much to do and so little time. There are not enough hours in the day.
Are you buying this BS?
Time is not the issue. It’s taste. Where and how are you spending your most valuable resource? What are you spending time on and with whom?
Is it the important stuff like developing your craft? Creating connection? Sharing value with those who need you to show up and deliver the goods?
Take a minute and reflect on what is important to you and what your good at. Who shares your values and needs your talents? What is the one thing you could do or make that would impact these people?
Go. Do or make that. Do it now.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. It shouldn’t be big and complicated. It mustn’t require a long explanation.
Keep it simple. Try it out. Watch the reaction. Listen to the response. Think it over. Iterate. Then try again.
It’s simple. But simple isn’t easy.
What Are You Waiting For?
The ducks will align themselves. You don’t even own a ship. And, when was the last time you took the time to check on the planets?
Time is everyone’s most valuable resource. You’re never going to have more of it than you do right now. Why are you wasting it?
In every moment of every day, you are in the act of dying. You're dying right now!
The time is now. Now is the time.
Marcus’ reminder says it all:
“Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left and live it properly. What doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness.”
So, which will you do next; transmit light or create your own darkness?
Choose well. If you don’t, the choice will be made for you.
About the Writer
Scott Perry is the author of The Stoic Creative...
You have a choice. Be like everyone else, or do the hard, but rewarding, work of being you. Not just any old you, but the best you.
A Creative Creates
A creative creates. Here's the Dictionary definition:
create [kree-eyt] - verb
1. to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.
A Creative, simply put, is anyone who brings something into the world that didn't previously exist. Every time you make a meal, make amends or make a mess you are drawing on your inherent and instinctive creative capacity. Creativity is an everyday human endeavor.
An Artist Creates with Intention & Delivers with Impact
Artists are creatives who develop their craft and deliver their work with a specific and intentional motivation and aspiration. They know who they are, what they're good at, and can identify who their audience is and what impact they want to bring about.
Artists know that passion and profits are the...
"Actions Speak Louder Than Words"
At least that's what my mama always told me. But over the years I've decided that this is not such great advice. Sure, we should walk the walk and not just talk the talk, but what are we talking and walking for in the first place?!
"A Man's Character Is His Fate."
These are the translated words of the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus. He's long been a go-to dispenser-of-wisdom on how to live well. Heraclitus was also a major influence on another source of timeless wisdom; the last of the late great Stoic philosophers, Marcus Aurelius.
Heraclitus and Marcus both have much to say on human nature and how to navigate the messy milieu that is human interaction. Both came to the conclusion that neither what we say nor what we do is of much significance. What really matters is who we are. In other words (Martin Luther King Jr.'s for instance), what is the "content of our character?" Or as the Stoics would say, our Virtue.
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