A Ripe Time for Introverted Creatives & Entrepreneurs

A Ripe Time for Introverted Creatives & Entrepreneurs Imagine if Jonas Salk at last discovers the polio vaccine, but he cowers at the prospect of receiving publicity or criticism or of appearing vain by drawing attention to himself. So, he decides to keep the discovery to himself. That would be irresponsible, wouldn’t it? And yet […]

Frédéric de Villamil

Just Have Fun or Get Better?

Frédéric de Villamil

Photo credit: Frédéric de Villamil, Flickr

A few years ago, when my first girl was two-years-old, she wanted to play my Bengali two-string dotar instrument. She plucked it. It twanged. I tried to guide her pudgy worms toward gentle strokes so it might purr, but no doing. Then, she wanted to pull out her mini-ukele. Similar deal. She set it down on her lap like a steel guitar player and pick in hand began plucking. It twanged. After a few minutes of random ting-tangs, I suggested another way to hold the instrument and strum it. She stood for my guidance for about 2.5 minutes and then said,

“No.” Not in the typical defiant explosive two-year-old way. Just in the resolved and clear-minded way. Read more

Spencer Goad/Creative Commons

Prioritize Your Value

Spencer Goad/Creative Commons

Spencer Goad/Creative Commons

She couldn’t believe the one word that came up in a simple self-assessment. She had sensed it in her 20+ years of accomplishments across the globe. But the word simply was not the word she used to describe herself or the quality that most captivates people and brings them value. She might have chosen compassionate, loving, sensitive. But this word?

What was that word? Power.

That word came up in one of the self-assessments I use with clients to help them gain a facet of self-knowledge. It was as if a mirror into her whole heritage and history brought to light her untapped gifts. What’s unique about this assessment is that it is more a reflection of how the world sees you – not how you see yourself.

Held in check, the world, it turns out, holds up a mirror to our genius.

Whether you’re a speaker or spiritual seeker, a painter or business artist, there’s an oft-overlooked level of knowledge essential to hone on the path to mastery.

It’s a knowledge that involves the world mirroring your genius. And it involves your genius in turn lifting up the world.

I’m sure you know and honor your “values,” and you likely don’t equate “your value” with complete monetization. You are not a product.

Still, if you endeavor to do business-as-unusual, you need to prioritize your value.



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Intensity Not Relaxation Inspires Creative Courage

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“It was clear…that what kept [top performers in flow] motivated was the quality of experience they felt when they were involved with the activity. This feeling didn’t come when they were relaxing, when they were taking drugs or alcohol, or when they were consuming the expensive privileges of wealth. Rather, it often involved painful, risky, difficult activities that stretched the person’s capacity and involved an element of novelty and discovery. This optimal experience is what I have called flow.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention

Real transformation comes not from luxury or wealth or even deep relaxation. It comes from intensity punctuated with emotional relief and delightful surprise.

They came from every coast to climb a ridge, enter a castle, and make magic happen.

Entrepreneurs, teachers, an architectural designer, writers, consultants, therapists, a mountaintop farm owner, professionals, artful parents – every single one of them pow – er- ful – had arrived at Mohonk Mountain Resort. Mohonk is a veritable 19th-century castle-like structure perched on the Shawangunk Ridge in New York’s Hudson Valley that boasts awe-inspiring views of the Catskills Mountains.

But this pack didn’t come mostly to soak in the views. They didn’t come mostly to soak in the top-rated spa waters.  They didn’t come mostly to loaf and lean along the languorous trails.

They came ostensibly for an author’s intensive called Your Brave New Story. They sought to learn how to shape their books, break through blocks, own their larger brand possibilities, consider their best path to publish.


But they really came to taste bravery. What they gave back was the formidable alliance necessary to live bravely together.

It’s one thing to feel brave for a moment. It’s another to become brave and stay brave upon returning home.

That kind of change rarely comes from deep relaxation. It often comes from a certain kind of intensity and a certain kind of bonding.  Read more

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Your mind is vast. Love & use all of it.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 9.02.30 AMYou might be at war with your mind. And you’re not to blame.

I talk with a lot of smart people, accomplished people, talented and sensitive people who want a different approach to problem-solving their projects and lives. They want to make changes in how they advance their endeavors, how they engage their audiences, how they earn a viable right livelihood doing more of what they are best at.

Yet as they problem-solve, they often only bring small parts of their minds to the table. Those parts usually fall into two extremes. There are the business-leaning people who have learned to spread sheet and project manage their way to success. In reaction, there are the “authenticity-leaning” people who expend a lot of time trying to trust their gut, and then second-guess their gut, and then trust it again.

Both groups diminish vast parts of their business artist mind that together could be rallied as allies instead of as foes.

You might have been fed misguiding messages not to trust your mind but to trust your gut. Or to write from your heart not from your mind. Or that you spend too much time in your head.

Those dualities – mind/gut, heart/mind, head/body – don’t really make sense. Unfortunately, these well-intended admonitions can create civil wars within your mind. I’ve witnessed those wars over and over again in the people with whom I’ve worked and talked with.

Your mind is vast and contains far more than the little worrier. So much more than the analytical processor. So much more than the emotional processor. Your business artist mind is gut and heart and head and body and imagination and dot-connector and synthesizer and self-motivator and more.

Your mind is a veritable brigade. Rally it.

Your business artist mind is vast. Love all of it. (Click to share this. Thanks.)

That’s what we do in our ArtMark ™ program for business artists.

I shot the video below on the Hudson Valley’s Shawangunk Ridge earlier this year. The Ridge overlooks the Catskill Mountains.

Maybe there’s something I say that will help you be a little less at war with parts of your mind and a little more back in love with all of it.

Let me know if something here resonates or triggers a reaction. Read more


Buzzing stories versus your Brave Story

“It would be no exaggeration to call it a state of disorientation.” – Carl Jung


“What is your myth – the myth in which you live?”

That’s the question that rattled inside the renowned psychologist Carl Jung at age 37, months after breaking away from his mentor, Freud. He writes that when he examined the hero stories and myths he had amassed, he held them up like mirrors and wondered about his own life. He wasn’t, as far as he could see, the hero of his own story.

When that voice calls and says, “Look at how you’re living your life. How are you walking the talk?,” most of us reply with, “You’ve got the wrong number,” hang up, and turn up the volume on Downton Abby.

But when Jung got challenged on his own soul stuff, he didn’t hang up. He kept the line open.

Listening to that profound doubt prompted Jung to muster the courage to create the Story he knew he must write into and live out.

So let’s consider this: A consultant has an idea book to write. A father has a memoir to write. A journalist has her first young adult novel to write.

Behind every book is a Story. A Story burns inside a writer. And that Story is not the stories that buzz inside her head.

How does she listen to the true voice of doubt beyond the buzz, and how does she muster the courage to create because of that voice?

Those are questions I invite you to live with me.

Read more


No easy promises to write a brave new story


“Write your novel in 60 days.” “Write from your passion, and the money will follow.” “Get a blueprint for your best-seller.”

Do those promises make you cringe? Their simplistic nature is actually destructive. Easy promises are destructive in two key ways. Read more

Courtesy of Monica Holli (Creative Commons)

Is Obsessive Genius Your Model for Mastery?

Courtesy of Monica Holli (Creative Commons)

Courtesy of Monica Holli (Creative Commons)

I know you can get fixated on advancing your book, your business, your brand, your art – your whole business artist life. And you might think you’re not “the real deal” in part because of the images of geniuses you see and read about.

I’ve noticed something lately, and I’m not the only one.

Films and pop psychology lit on creativity steep us on models of obsessive geniuses.

Think of the young character in the Oscar-winning film Whiplash, Andrew Neiman. A first-year jazz student at a New York Conservatory, he compromises his relationships and health to chase after his mentor’s approval and to become a jazz “great.”

Think of the character Max Cohen in Darren Aronofksy’s film Pi in which the brilliant number theorist shuts off everything – love, money, religious intrigue – in devotion to his pursuit of truth. 

Think of the portrait of Walter Isaacson’s portrait of  Steve Jobs as the mean-spirited, conniving obsessive genius.

What’s the story? Are these stories your model for mastery? Read more


Practicing excellence & flow is not a privilege

mountain-peak-stockPracticing excellence is not a privilege. It’s a birthright. It’s in part what we human beings are here for. We have these remarkable faculties. Perhaps what most elevates us is to finesse our best attention and direct it toward specific endeavors that benefit others, whether that benefit is through art, social change, business artistry. It turns out that excellence has little to do with the easy life. Read more

Why entrepreneurs & creatives succumb to bedtime procrastination


Cannot the laborers understand that by over-working themselves they exhaust their own strength and that of their progeny, that they are used up and long before their time come to be incapable of any work at all, that absorbed and brutalized by this single vice they are no longer men but pieces of men, that they kill within themselves all beautiful faculties, to leave nothing alive and flourishing except the furious madness for work. – PAUL LAFARGUE, The Right to Be Lazy (1883)

Canadian journalist Carl Honoré used to battle with his two-year-old boy over bedtime stories. “You’re going too fast!” the boy would say. Honore admits he would often lead his son, who savored the long stories, toward the short ones. Why? Because Honoré was eager to finish up his work before he went to bed. That same year while waiting impatiently in an airport, he read a newspaper to feel productive and noticed a headline that stopped his fast-tracked mind: “The One-Minute Bedtime Story.”

“Think Hans Christian Anderssen meets the executive summary,” Honoré writes in In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed, the book that the one-minute bedtime story article plus his own guilt with his son inspired him to research and write.

If Honoré is like a slew of entrepreneurs and creatives, he likely suffered from what scientists in the Netherlands call “bedtime procrastination.” Bedtime procrastination is “defined as failing to go to bed at the intended time, while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so.” 

That last part of the definition “while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so” – I find especially fascinating. 

Why is bedtime procrastination unique to our times and unique to entrepreneurs and creatives, male or female? And what if anything can we do about it without “managing” our time? I am especially calling out you men because we do not talk about these matters publicly (although we do privately). Read more