Who’s at the Steering Wheel?

Who’s at the Steering Wheel?

Some days, I don’t feel like I’m the one at the steering wheel. I feel like god, the universe, or some other unnamed force is.

I met a friend for a quick chat at Starbucks today. When I showed up, he was there with another friend, who shared:

God can bring you exactly where you need to go. You don’t need a phone. You just need to pay attention to signs and promptings. It’s the same thing with rest. Rest is an essential part of life, and when you are prompted to rest, the best idea is to rest.

I, in turn, shared when I was prompted to go on sabbatical back in summer 2013. A podcast had planted the idea in my mind, and I followed through, because a season was ending in my life.

It would seem, the universe’s message to me today, is to rest.

Because today, I have mostly been unfolding conversations instead of just sitting at a desk typing out words. Which has been amazing.

Who’s at the steering wheel? I don’t know. But you would do well to follow promptings to rest.

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16 Years Later & Still Going Strong…

16 Years Later & Still Going Strong…

They said not to blog.

Writing a book is a waste of time.

They said not to make music.

The odds of becoming a successful musician are less than getting hit by lightning.

They said not to podcast.

They said, “forget about becoming a YouTube star.”

They told you not to build a business.

Throw away your hollow dreams of passive and recurring revenue. Pat Flynn and James Schramko have no idea what they’re talking about, and they are the very purveyors of snake oil.

Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek is a sham. Even Ferriss clearly works more than four hours per week.

Give up. You’re not special. There’s no way you can make it.

“If I couldn’t do it, there’s no way you could.”

That’s what my friends were saying behind my back. Only a few short years ago.

In 2005 and 2006, I recorded and launched my first solo album, Shipwrecked… My Sentiments.

In 2007, I started blogging. One post helped me generate upwards of 800 visits per day.

In 2008, I formed a band called Angels Breaking Silence. It didn’t last more than a year and a half, but at our peak, we were touring churches, skateparks, festivals, universities, and more.

In 2009, I started podcasting. I’ve gotten as many as 3,000+ downloads in a month.

I also started making YouTube videos the same year. My little video on Sim City has gotten more than 89,600 views to date.

In 2011, I created, produced, and performed Back on Solid Ground for 11 consecutive days at the Calgary Fringe Festival.

In 2012, I briefly become the co-host of Inside Home Recording, a popular home music producer podcast.

I also started blogging professionally, and contributed to multiple music releases as a guitarist, producer, and engineer.

In 2013, I started working for Ghost Blog Writers, ghostwriting for a variety of individuals and companies, including Entrepreneur and HuffPost contributors.

In 2014, I launched my first audio course, How to Set Up Your Music Career Like a Business.

In 2015, I launched my first book, The New Music Industry.

I also became a staff writer for Music Industry How To the same year.

In 2016, I started working entirely from home. I was no longer tied to a physical workspace.

I also launched multiple singles the same year.

In 2017, I helped a local jazz artist crowdfund $15,000+ for an album.

In 2018, 2019, and 2020, I launched several more books.

And that’s just scratching the surface. There are so many other accomplishments. So many other stories to tell. So many funny, weird, and memorable experiences. So many highs and lows.

It’s been at least 16 years since I started down the path of building my life around my creativity and passions.

It’s been 16 years and I’m still going.

What were you told not to do? What did others discourage you from trying? Who didn’t demonstrate any belief in your big dreams?

Maybe you were meant to go and do those things after all.

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You Can be Complete with Anything

You Can be Complete with Anything

If you had told me this just four years ago, I’m not sure that I would have believed you.

But I was on a coaching call today, and while my projects have been progressing nicely, I had a lingering sense of sadness that was coming from stories I’d been telling myself.

Stories about time. Stories about being a certain age. Stories about not having accomplished what I’d set out to by this point.

What my coach told me was I was in full control, and I could choose at any time to declare the sadness complete. So, I did exactly that. I said:

“I declare my sadness complete.”

And what happened next surprised even me.

My heart opened wide, and tears began to well up in my eyes.

I’d felt a sense of freedom I hadn’t felt in a while.

I didn’t know I could become complete with anything that easily or quickly. I’d always thought it would take more digging.

And yes, sometimes getting complete with something will take some digging. But not always. Sometimes, it’s real enough for you in the moment that you can clearly see the story you’ve been perpetuating and the impact it’s had. When the impact is real, letting go becomes a must rather than an option.

You can be complete with anything. You don’t need to drag that baggage into every relationship or situation. It can be complete the moment you declare it complete. You don’t need to carry it with you. It’s not a sentence.

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The Slash / Conundrum

The Slash / Conundrum

If you’re going to be a full-time podcaster, you can’t just be a podcaster. You’ve got to have something to talk about. And then you’ve got to be able to talk about it in an interesting way. You’ve got to be a student of storytelling and psychology, such that you’re able to capture and hold a listener’s attention.

The reality is that a full-time podcaster is an exceedingly rare thing. So, while all these responsibilities might seem excessive and demanding, if you want to play ball with the big boys, you’ve got to be able to hold your own.

Learning to become a songwriter is basically the same thing. You can’t just be a lyricist. You’ve to have something to say. You’ve got to be able to say it in a compelling way. And you’ve got to be able to put it all to a catchy hook that becomes an earworm.

You won’t be an effective songwriter if you’re not curious or passionate about something. It doesn’t matter whether it’s riding horses or woodworking, if you don’t engage in something meaningful and challenging, you won’t have anything worth writing about, and people won’t relate to your songs.

You’ve often heard me describe myself as an author / entrepreneur / musician. But if I were to break it down, I’m really a blogger / author / writer / ghostwriter / copywriter / podcaster / digital marketer / web developer / graphic designer / singer / songwriter / guitarist / composer / music producer / community builder / entrepreneur / presenter / public speaker / entertainer… Starting to get the idea?

The Slash Conundrum is that today, as a creative, it’s impractical to be anything other than a polymath. The people that we look up to – our heroes – necessarily had to become known for one thing. But now, you’re a commodity if you just speak well. There are 37 million YouTube channels, and polished speakers are a dime a dozen.

You may identify with Jennifer Lopez the artist. But when you think about it, Lopez is really a singer / dancer / artist / icon / model / actress / entertainer / public figure / entrepreneur, so on and so forth. See what I mean? The modern-day artist isn’t just an artist anymore.

I don’t know about the future, but the present belongs to the polymath. So, the slash, even if unwanted, is mostly inevitable, especially if you want to thrive as a creative or creator.

The game to play is creative alchemy. How will you fuse your passions, strengths, talents, interests, and experiences to develop a package (art, persona, brand) that stands out?

You can’t just be a podcaster. You’ve got to have something to talk about. You need to live and experience life. You need other interests. You need to have conversations. You need to take risks.

The conundrum, of course, is that all this can seem quite daunting.

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Being a Clearing for Others

Being a Clearing for Others

Today I spent roughly 7.35 hours on calls and meetings.

Yep. That’s about the length of the average workday (and most people are only effective for about three hours…).

I was committed to being on a 30-minute coaching call and three-hour training session, as well as a call with a mentor, so I was adequately prepared for these commitments.

What I wasn’t expecting was what happened in the margins – mainly conversations with classmates and friends.

Were there calls I didn’t have to pick up? Yes.

But I’m standing from a space of new possibilities, for the people around me, as well as the impact and contribution I’m making in the world.

I used to avoid texts, emails, and calls like the plague – streamlining communication to the extent that life would allow. Forcing it into the borders of life so I could focus on… productivity, apparently.

The insanity of trying to do things that way has really sunk in for me in the last couple of days. I realized I’d taken things about as far as I could at the level of leadership I was operating at (and that’s a subject worthy of further discourse).

Today, I chose to be a clearing for people. Listening to their challenges. Relating to them. Offering coaching if it was appropriate or applicable. Putting people first because I care, and because they’re worth it. Their experiences aren’t insignificant, especially to them.

In a way, I’m coming to see that not interacting with people is more exhausting. Forcing myself to sit at a desk and write, design, and create for hours is more exhausting than not. Some people are made for that, and I look up to them. I can do it, but I don’t know how much life it injects into my day.

I do feel tired. But it’s 11:01 PM and I’m about to wind down for the day. What I can tell you is that I don’t feel like I usually do after a full day of writing, designing, and creating. That is a different kind of tired.

Although the leadership program I’m in is the furthest thing from comfortable, I’m amazed by how much I’m already discovering for myself – in terms of prioritization, time, numbers, and more.

I can’t imagine 7.35 hours on the phone or in Zoom will be a daily occurrence, but I do need to make sure I’ve got enough time to do my work as well… 😅

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Why You Should Create a “Learning” Folder Now

Why You Should Create a “Learning” Folder Now

How much time do you spend on idea generation?

What about reading books, blog posts and articles, listening to podcasts, or watching videos?

If you’re a writer, there’s a good chance your content consumption habits are quite extensive, because you never want to be in that dreaded state of staring back at blank screen, wondering what you should write next.

A lot of people consume. But not many people take notes. Even fewer reference what they’ve learned, and even fewer apply it.

Here’s why you should create a “Learning” folder now.

What Tool Should I Use?

I created my “Learning” folder inside Google Drive.

You can use whatever tool you want, but Drive felt right to me, given that I can create Docs and take notes from any device.

These days, I do most of my reading on my iPad. I still prefer hardcovers or paperbacks, of which I have a few at my current residence, but I left most of my library in Calgary, when I decided to become a digital nomad.

So, I read with my laptop next to me, where I can take notes on what I’m reading.

How Does a “Learning” Folder Benefit Me?

I find that reading gets me into flow. And when I’m in flow, ideas seem to come fast and easy. If I’m not actively capturing these ideas, I could lose them forever.

Not to mention, I love to make notes on what I’m learning, how I might apply it, and even jot down memorable quotes on the content I’m consuming.

I already have pages and pages of notes I can refer to on a variety of topics, some that connect directly to my work and marketing efforts.

And whenever I’m thinking to myself, “where was that quote I jotted down – I sure would like to use that in my article now,” I can easily search it up and find it within Drive. No more flipping through multiple books, trying to figure out where that quote was.

So, your Learning folder can help you:

  • Make a record of what you’re learning and applying
  • Jot down noteworthy quotes for later use
  • Generate ideas for your next article
  • Turn your notes into book/resource reviews

Wouldn’t Note taking Slow Down Content Consumption?

There are gurus out there who in effect are saying “the more books you read, the better.”

But why is that?

Reading faster is mostly pointless if you don’t retain or use any of what you’re learning, isn’t it?

What’s the point in reading more books or consuming more content if you aren’t learning anything? What’s the point in learning anything if you aren’t applying it? What’s the point in applying it if you aren’t tracking the results?

The only way to understand the value of something is to try it for yourself and see what happens, isn’t it? And if you don’t have the right structures for that, shouldn’t that be your priority?

You can read more books, or you can become a master at learning and applying what you’re studying. There’s no doubt in my mind which is bound to have a more lasting impact.

Note taking isn’t easy, and it isn’t meant to be. But it causes you to think more about what you’re learning, which in turn helps with your learning and memory.

Final Thoughts

Ideas are everywhere. We just need to take hold of them.

Staring at a blank screen is a bad use of time, and that situation can easily be avoided if you have the right structures in place.

Setting up a Learning folder is a great way to document your learning journey, which can come in handy in a variety of ways. It’s in service of your future self.

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