It’s amazing what you are capable of, when you get out of your own way. Usually the only thing stopping you… is you.
In less than 1 and a half minutes, Steve Jobs shares one of his most powerful messages.
He explains the importance of being willing to change your life, rather than passively follow the average path. It’s well worth a listen.
Wise words indeed.
I’ve visited the room where Dylan Thomas did much of his writing and also the tiny shed where Roald Dahl wrote. Something that struck me about these amazing writers, was how extremely typical their surroundings were.
Nothing fancy. Just a space to create, where they could think and work.
The mechanics are secondary
Often, we get caught up in the mechanics of creativity. What software to work with… which type of computer to use.
I think to a lesser or greater degree, these are stalling tactics. Find the mix that feels right for you, then create.
The rest is largely unimportant.
Never let the fear of criticism hold you back from creating your art. Today, I want to share an example with you, which makes this point beautifully.
1969: Jim Morrison predicts electro & rap
In 1969, the year The Beatles split, Jim Morrison was asked about the future of music. Here’s an amazing, direct quote from his answer:
“[...] it might rely heavily on electronics, tapes, I can kind of envision maybe one person with a lot of machines, tapes, and electronics set up, singing or speaking and using machines.”
From fool to visionary
At the time, Morrison’s prediction of what we now call electro music and rap, whilst his counterparts were playing Woodstock with flowers in their hair, was laughed at.
The idea of using machines, rather than musical instruments, was too much for the masses to handle. It seemed like the foolish ramblings of a man with a well known drug problem.
Of course, it wasn’t.
Years after his death, Morrison’s prediction happened. He was duly elevated to the status of musical visionary.
The price for thinking differently
The price for thinking differently, is that you set yourself apart from the masses. By proactively embracing your creativity, you will see the world differently. Your art may be hard for others to understand or ahead of its time. When that happens, the masses are likely to laugh at you or criticise you.
As Einstein said: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”.
A great way to deal with this, is to use fear as your compass. Every great artist has encountered ridicule. If your work is not being attacked in some way, you’re probably playing it safe… not making a difference. It’s a sign you need to embrace the edges.
To quote another visionary: “Stay young. Stay foolish” — Steve Jobs.
Produce something. Something that’s yours.
Draw. Write. Paint. Dance. Photograph. Mix. Remix.
Get it out of your head, your heart or your soul… and into ours!
How fully do you embrace your artistic freedom? That’s a really important question, maybe one of the most important questions, facing anyone who wants to do meaningful work.
I listened to Moby in an interview recently. He was explaining that when he started out in music, he wanted to be able to do everything himself. He wanted full artistic freedom.
I really enjoy Moby’s music and find his approach to his art inspirational. I also absolutely get why artistic freedom matters so much to him.
What I didn’t realise until hearing Moby’s interview, was that he and I are the same age. When Moby started his music career and I started my business, we took different paths. However, we were both creative professionals in an era before the Internet.
It wasn’t until a decade later, that digital publishing and self distribution arrived. It changed everything. Forever. Back then, if you were a creative professional and you wanted to reach thousands of people with your work, you needed Radio stations, TV stations and newspapers to cover you. You needed to be selected by someone.
You needed permission… not to produce your work, but for it to be put in front of a large audience.
Today, you have full artistic freedom
Thankfully, you don’t need permission today. It’s down to you. Just you. You can get your work out there by yourself and if it’s good enough and you’re both smart and you persist, you can make it. You can get your; video, music, designs, dance routine, poetry — whatever, published to an unlimited potential audience.
Back when you needed permission, if you wanted lots of visibility, it really helped if you fit into whatever the fashion of the moment was.
Today, the exact opposite is true.
Today, the more you embrace your full artistic freedom and do your own thing, the more likely you are to get noticed. Those who appreciate your art will immediately resonate with it. Moreover, because you have a global audience, you can be as niche as you like and still have no trouble finding your audience.
Rather than embrace this artistic freedom, most artists are still trying to be just like (whoever). The problem with that approach is that it fails on every level. It leaves them unfulfilled and unknown.
- It fails them, because they are not allowing their own stars to shine.
- It fails their audience, because they don’t get to enjoy the artist’s best work.
- It fails to make a meaningful impact, because it’s not their art.
The challenge right now is that the thing that feels risky is actually the safest thing you can do and the thing that feels safe, is the sure path to nowhere.
Embrace your artistic freedom
The Apple Mac range of computers have always been popular with creative people. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Mac, Apple put this interesting, short video together. It shows how some well known creative professionals have used the Mac, to help them express themselves.
An early morning, with a notebook and some coffee or green tea. That’s what does it for me. That’s the recipe to get my mind flowing with ideas and for those ideas to get shipped. In my case, shipped means written up for my readers. I get ideas all day, but I have found that early mornings work best for getting those ideas transformed from thoughts into things.
It doesn’t matter what works for you
What matters is that you find your recipe, to get the ideas flowing and shipped. Practice. Try things. Change the media from pen to pencil. From computer to tablet. From keyboard to paint. From guitar to sound sequencer.
It doesn’t matter, just so long as it works for you… so long as it gets the idea from your head into; the marketplace, the world, the community, the clients hands or into the readers inbox. Steve Jobs was right, real artists ship. So, find your shipping recipe and get your art out there.
Those who make a difference — those who improve their lives, their communities and their world, are doers. People of action. Dreams are fantastic, but we need to live our dreams if we want to make them real… if we want to make a difference. This requires intelligent activity.
Chanting to the universe… Cosmic Ordering. These act as a narcotic, to ease the pain of being less than you can be. They distract their advocates from the very real fact that the clock is ticking. They provide an alibi for those scared of doing… after all, it’s not THEIR fault if the universe isn’t listening to them, they say.
Here’s what we know works, from every great artist who has ever lived: Intelligent action is required.
The need for action
“Action expresses priorities.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” – Pablo Picasso
“Do the thing and you will have the power.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.” – Joss Whedon
“You are what you do.” – C.G Jung
“Imagination means nothing without doing.” – Charlie Chaplin
“A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” – Henrik Ibsen
“The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.” – C. S. Lewis
“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” – Benjamin Disraeli.
If you want to make a real difference, you need to get real and start LIVING your dreams.
The book you intend to read, won’t teach you anything… until you read it.
The book you intend to write, will never be read… until you write it.
Intentions and deeds
It’s wonderful to have good intentions. However, our results are going to be determined on what we do, rather than what we intend to do.
Read the books. Create the art. Translate your good intentions into good deeds.