Lessons in Creativity, Part 4: Inspiration

Lessons in Creativity, Part 4: Inspiration

I’ve already spoken elsewhere about inspiration.

Talk to any artist – most will tell you that inspiration comes from some outside source, whether it’s mass consciousness, muses, God, or otherwise.

I get why they say that. One moment you’re going about life as normal. The next, you are possessed by an idea whose time has come. If the artist is in a position to drop what they’re doing and pursue the idea to its logical end, they likely will.

This post came from inspiration. You wouldn’t be reading it today if I hadn’t taken hold of the idea.

This series wasn’t even what I meant to write in the first place. At the time, I was in the habit of writing one new eBook per week, and I was about to write “My Top 10 Tips for Creatives.”

But when the first section quickly blew up into 1,000 words, I said out loud, “I think there’s something here.”

It could no longer just be an eBook – it had to be fleshed out and made into something more.

***

I remember when I fell in love for the first time – I’m sure you do too.

Sure, I’d had some crushes in Jr. High, maybe High School too, but nothing quite like this.

I was 25 when it happened. Up until that point, I was walking through life in a haze – I truly believed that whatever happened to me is what happened to me, and I had no say in it whatsoever.

It took me a long time to work through my victim mentality, but I’m glad my personal development journey had also started around that time. If Steve Pavlina hadn’t helped me realize that you can live consciously, I’m not sure what would have happened to me.

Anyway, I hadn’t really even considered the possibility that one day I could be – or I would even want to be – married. I had a hard time believing that anyone would ever be interested in someone like me. I didn’t exactly have evidence to suggest that the opposite sex was even aware of me.

I met her at a guitar workshop. Strange – I guess what they say is true – if you go and do the things you’re passionate about, you’ll meet the right people. It took a lot for me to get up and drive out to Red Deer that day, because I also had an anxiety disorder that had started tormenting me two months prior. But I was glad I went.

Unfortunately, while she may have been “right people”, she wasn’t the one, if there is such a thing. Within three months of meeting her, the relationship ended. The confluence and miracle of events that had led to that point really had me thinking I had found my love. I was wrong, and I was heartbroken.

It was music that saved me (aside from God), both from the anxiety and the heartache.

That summer, I wrote about 15 songs, and I probably had more in me, but that creative well eventually ran dry. First love, first heartbreak, and first panic attack, all within the span of five months.

***

Input. We really can’t downplay the importance of input when it comes to inspiration.

If you take nothing in, if you never experience life, you would never have anything to draw, paint, write or sing about.

But the thing is, as long as you’re living, you will always be taking something in. If you’re in school, you will learn things. If you’re watching TV, you will absorb what you’re watching. If you’re reading a book, you will begin to internalize what’s being said in it.

The problem then, is that we don’t give enough thought to the quality of our input.

Professor and author Adam Grant says that if geniuses like Albert Einstein hadn’t internalized their assumptions of the world in their later years, they would have been able to leave even greater contributions than they did. Imagine that.

But that’s the issue – we don’t challenge ourselves enough.

We get locked into a certain way of doing things. We read the same graphic novels, watch the same TV shows, listen to the same music, and hang out with the same people constantly. We tend to reinforce well-worn neural pathways. I’ve observed these trends in my own life.

So you can’t do your best work without new input. You won’t challenge assumptions, and you will leave this world without making the contribution you’re capable of making.

Religion, school, and parenting gets us locked into a certain way of thinking. I wish I could say that this was healthy, but in my experience it has proven detrimental – both to me and those around me. Some assumptions must be challenged.

If you have money problems, it’s because of the way you think. If you have relationship problems, it’s because of the way you think. If you have health problems, well, you can assume that at least part of it has to do with how you think. Dr. Gabor Maté would likely affirm that notion.

***

As creatives, we have to be careful of waiting for inspiration.

Sometimes we do ourselves a disservice by not waiting for inspiration. But most of the time, we wait too long. We don’t realize what a luxury inspiration can be.

Try working under deadlines for a while. If you have to eat, and you need to get the work done to get paid, you’ll do the work, inspiration or no inspiration. Otherwise, you risk losing your reputation, your client, or your job.

I think that’s part of the reason why I don’t get writer’s block – I would be in serious trouble if I did. I might be able to fudge a day or two, but if I was late an entire week on my deliverables, someone would call me out, guaranteed.

Does the best work come from inspiration? I have a hard time arguing with that idea. But many who succeed in their profession also seem to be those who aren’t afraid of putting out a lot of work. All things being equal, if your odds at success were no greater than anyone else’s, it makes good sense that your odds would improve with volume.

No, don’t sacrifice quality for quantity, but nothing will ever be perfect, so you have to know when to stop. You have to know when to call something done and let it loose into the world.

Do you like what you read? You can pre-order the new book now.

7 Habits of Happy Successful Entrepreneurs

What habits do entrepreneurs have that allow them to be happy and successful?

That’s a great question, because you can certainly be happy without being successful, and you can be successful without being happy too!

In this guest post, Janet Miller provides us with seven tips on how to find this meaningful balance.

And if you feel you’ve got something valuable to share with the community, you may want to consider submitting a guest post.

Here’s Janet!

Habits are an essential part of our lives. They influence both our professional and personal lives, and form a key aspect of who we are. What makes some entrepreneurs happier and more successful than others? Habits are a key factor. Here are seven habits of happy successful entrepreneurs.

1. They Never Settle

Elon Musk is famous for never taking no for an answer. He simply never allows someone to tell him that something is impossible or beyond his capability to accomplish – he sets clear goals and doesn’t give up until he meets them, exceeds them, or fails attempting.

While it is important to maintain a good grasp on the reality of any given situation, pushing the envelope in this manner is a shared trait of many happy successful entrepreneurs.

2. They Persist

Many startups fail. The happy, successful entrepreneur does not let this shake his confidence – most have started several businesses before ending up with a successful one. The ability to learn from one’s mistakes and never giving up is critical to one’s success,

3. They Are Humble

Known for his extreme humility and approachability, Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, stresses cultivating humility throughout life as part of the emotional makeup of a happy, successful entrepreneur.

4. They Exercise Frequently

For most entrepreneurs, daily physical activity is an absolute necessity. Not only does exercising at a given time each day lead to a more structured, healthier lifestyle, it also has long-term emotional benefits that result in a happier, more satisfied mind and body.

Running a business can be extremely stressful, especially for entrepreneurs who have to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges on a daily basis. Exercise provides a fantastic outlet for these stresses and emotions, allowing you to release energy while improving yourself.

These activities are also scientifically proven to release chemicals into the bloodstream that give positive feelings.

5. They Associate with Like-Minded Entrepreneurs

You are the average of the people you spend the most time with. Happy successful entrepreneurs take the time to cultivate relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs with whom they can share ideas and find a strong source of support.

Spending time with other individuals who lead healthy, balanced lives can only leads to positive results. It will enable you to incorporate their productive patterns into your own routine.

6. They Spend Time in Solitude

Like any exhausting profession, the life of an entrepreneur is a demanding one. When the success or failure of a venture is solely dependent upon your business expertise, the pressure can definitely mount up.

Thus, spending a little time alone to reflect and meditate in peace and solitude is essential. Overwork can have detrimental effects upon both your emotional state and your productivity.

Working longer hours doesn’t necessarily lead to better results, or a more satisfied feeling at the end of the day, and meditation can even improve your business mind and interpersonal skills. Taking time in this manner is essential to your mental health, and is a habit that you should definitely develop.

7. They Drink Lots and Lots of Water

The happy successful entrepreneur stays hydrated throughout the day. Water offers a multitude of benefits – it energizes our bodies, clears our bodies of any waste, and helps to maintain steady organ function.

Keeping hydrated throughout the day is essential to a healthy and happy lifestyle – the average person requires about nine pints of aqua vida per day, which is a lot more than it sounds. It’s a simple, yet effective routine to have – drink one bottle per hour. Just don’t overdo it!

Interested in Learning More About this Topic?

The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship: 2018 EditionIf you’re looking for all the latest information on music entrepreneurship, and you’d like to explore this subject in more detail, we recommend checking out David Andrew Wiebe’s latest book, The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship: 2018 Edition.

In addition to everything covered in the original guide, there are fresh insights, new sections and experts quotes, stats, and bonus content in the short volume.

Don’t miss out on cutting-edge information that could help you go beyond in your musicpreneurship career.

Order on Amazon

Put Your Dream to the Test by John C. Maxwell

Put Your Dream to the Test by John C. Maxwell

Summary: John C. Maxwell’s Put Your Dream to the Test is an inspiring book that will help you get motivated. But it also offers a doze of realism so you don’t get lost in lofty ideals you can never achieve.

I recently read Put Your Dream to the Test by John Maxwell. I’ve read many Maxwell books to this point, and I’ve certainly taken away a variety of useful tips. This book was no exception.

In this review, I’ll share what I learned and what I thought about the book.

What This Book is About

Put Your Dream to the Test is a practical – if intimidating – guide to determining the viability of your dreams. Author John Maxwell will guide you through the 10 questions you need to ask yourself if you’re to have any hope of achieving your goals in life.

Maxwell suggests that your dream is only realistic if you’re able to answer “yes” to most – if not all – of the primary questions within the book. Every chapter also ends with several more questions that prompt you to think about whether:

  • Your dream is your own.
  • You have a clear vision for your dream.
  • You are depending on factors within your control.
  • You are passionate about your dream.
  • You have a strategy.
  • You have the right relationships and connections.
  • You are willing to pay the price for your dream.
  • You have the tenacity and persistence to follow through.
  • You are fulfilled by the work you have to do.
  • Your work will benefit others.

Overall Impressions

A great book to start the year with. If you’ve ever wondered when you’ll be given the permission to start pursuing your dreams, and you have no idea what it’s going to take to get to where you want to go, then this is a must-read.

But no sooner do you open it when you realize this book requires real work. You must think, reflect, examine yourself, journal and answer questions (the 10 primary ones as well as the many others at the end of each chapter).

If you’ve read a number of Maxwell books in the past, you know exactly what to expect from this, but it’s still a great read with many good quotes and tips for those who are earnest about their goals and dreams.

What I Was Thinking About As I Was Reading It

Here are some things that came to me as I was reading this book:

  • At this moment in time, I only know what I want to accomplish in the next year or two. But this is better than not having any idea, and it’s the furthest I’ve been able to see ahead in a while.
  • Maxwell talks about people with predispositions similar to mine – relaxed and laid back, but steady and consistent. I’m glad he mentioned how people like me can use our nature to our advantage, as many success books blow right by this.
  • Do I really need people to help me achieve my dreams? Yes, I do, but I need to give this more thought. I’ve already identified several areas where I need help – masterminding and collaboration, marketing, administration, bookkeeping, and general tasks that eat up too much of my time.
  • How many times does a person need to pay the price for their dreams? Maxwell says you will need to keep paying as long as you have bigger goals.
  • One of my theme words for the year is helpfulness. So when I ask myself the Significance Question, I am alerted to the fact that I need to remain focused on serving others. My work is most effective when I’m offering something people want.

Final Thoughts

For obvious reasons, I can’t talk about everything you’ll learn about in this book, but I hope what I’ve shared is helpful.

If you want to delve deeper, then you’re going to want to purchase the book for yourself (get it on Amazon – this is an affiliate link).

This is a worthwhile read, though it’s not a book I would read every year. I think it would be ideal for when you’re changing course in life, or when have new goals and dreams that must be examined in light of your strengths and capacity.

Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

Lessons in Creativity, Part 3: Identity

You will feel weird until you can accept who you really are.

If you’ve always felt like you totally belong in this world, and that you’ve always been doing the things you think you were meant to do, then you’re a freak of nature.

Most of us end up trying and experimenting a lot, and even then we don’t necessarily end up finding the “perfect fit”.

And until you “come into your own”, it will always be a struggle making sense of your own thoughts, actions, and beliefs. It will be a struggle making sense of the world.

But getting to the core of who you are is critically important. Dr. Gabor Maté, in his book, When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress notes that those who struggle with identity are also prone to autoimmune disorders. This is because they tend to put everyone’s needs before their own, to their own detriment.

INFJs (“the advocate”) already have these tendencies without ever being prompted to please people; we tend to do it naturally. We don’t live for a cause – we represent the cause!

***

Shortly after my band broke up in 2009, I was a mess.

Most shows would end with me feeling completely isolated and left out, regardless of what the objective reality of the situation was.

I didn’t want to be a pest, but I would sometimes tell my band members what was going on inside my head. Sometimes they would coax it out of me because I wouldn’t be in any mood to talk.

But the root cause was always the same – I felt like the other band members were getting all of the attention, and that I was irrelevant.

I’m not saying that I was justified in what I was feeling. But friends and relationships was one area of my life that wasn’t totally going the way I thought it should.

In due course, the band broke up. I’m not sure if I was at fault, or if it was just that the other guys had other things they wanted to pursue. It was probably a bit of both, as evidenced by the fact that two of the band members got married within a very short amount of time thereafter.

I couldn’t totally make sense of what I was feeling, so I decided to see a psychologist. That in itself wasn’t an easy decision, but I didn’t feel like there were many people I could talk to about what I was going through at that point.

Over the course of several sessions, my psychologist said a couple of things that I still remember to this day.

The first was this: “It sounds like you just went through a breakup – like you were in a relationship. The band was your significant other.”

True, a band is a lot like marriage. This is said jokingly a lot of the time, but there’s no denying that you’re committed to the members, you make important decisions together, and the music you create is a collaborative effort.

It was an odd thing for my psychologist to say, but it was probably true. I was dealing with a lot of emotions because I really thought there was a chance at success with this band.

“People usually settle for 80% of what they’re looking for in a partner,” he also told me.

I should clarify that he wasn’t talking about the band at this point. He felt that I should be in a real relationship, with a girl, and that if I didn’t make the effort to talk to someone I was interested in, it was a “missed opportunity” rather than “pre-ordained rejection.”

It was a nice way of framing it, but I wondered if he knew something I didn’t.

Like, how would he know I wouldn’t be rejected by girls? Did I really have redeeming qualities that the opposite sex would find attractive?

***

Perhaps I was spoiled by Japan.

You see, while I was living there, I didn’t have a whole lot of trouble making friends.

For them, it probably had a little bit to do with the novelty of befriending someone from overseas, someone that didn’t share the native skin, eye, or hair color.

I lived in Japan for a total of eight and a half years with my family while going to kindergarten, all the way up through to grade eight.

For the first four years, we lived in an area called Akura, in a small apartment. Akura had a history of breeding some great soccer players, and sure enough, many kids spent recess playing soccer.

It also wasn’t the nicest part of town. As result, I’m pretty sure I made enemies as easily as friends while we lived there.

But when we moved into the mountains, in Sakasedai, I was welcomed with open arms. Sure, not all of the kids liked me, but they cheered when I showed up for the first day of school – literally!

I made a lot of friends, and it wasn’t hard work. Sure, I still had a rotating circle of five or six “best friends” based on common interest, but there were very few kids with whom I didn’t meet and interact with. Well, I was a little shy about the girls mind you.

***

I’m 33 now. Just recently, I was asked by a customer experience manager at a bank if I was in post-secondary school. I laughed.

I still look quite young. I feel young. But only now do I feel like I’m truly comfortable with whom I really am.

This is after spending time in environments where independent thinking was simultaneously promoted and pushed down – in church, in school, at work, and in network marketing meetings. God, network marketing meetings.

My point is this: it isn’t going to be easy if your expectations don’t match up with your natural talents, abilities, tendencies, and even your personality type.

But I’ve discovered that you can’t have expectations for other people – unless you’re leading them. You have to make sure to voice your expectations too!

When you let go of these expectations, you will put a lot of doubt, a lot of confusion, and a lot of procrastination to rest. As my counselor once taught me, “unspoken expectations are premeditated resentment.”

Actions always speak louder than words. If you want to know what someone’s agenda truly is, forget their words – just watch what they do next.

I admire Derek Sivers because he’s willing to embrace his strengths and do the work that complements his personality. It’s not bad to stretch yourself, and I have no doubt that Derek does, but if you’re expecting something out of yourself that you have no way of creating or providing, you can expect your identity crisis to continue.

Do you like what you read? You can pre-order the new book now.

TQP 011: The Real Star of Bethlehem

TQP 011: The Real Star of BethlehemThe story of the star is one of the most significant in the whole Bible, not just as an extraordinary standalone mythic phenomenon, which it is, but also as a trigger event for the literal birth of a whole spiritual movement that now influences over two billion people worldwide.

Without predispositions or prejudice, archeoastronomers have engaged the story of the star based on their own revised definition of myth as a valid ancient perspective, as a scientific and historical background, and as an invitation to explore.

Where everyone must start is the single account of this amazing start in the Bible itself, from the book of Matthew 2:2-10:

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his start when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s priests and teachers of the law, he asked where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rules of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the start they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

This is the one account of this in the Bible.

The ancient crime scene testimony focuses on three key statements:

  1. From the time of King Herod
  2. Magi from the east
  3. We have seen a star in the east when it rose

In this episode of The Question podcast, you will hear highlights from Frederick Tamagi’s presentation on “The Real Star of Bethlehem,” and the music of Joel Pearson.

Thank you for listening!

What questions will you be taking with you after listening to this episode?

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We look forward to interacting with you.