Harrison Ford got sick on the set of Steven Spielberg’s film Raiders of the Lost Ark.
One morning, scheduled for an intense sword fight scene with a formidable foe, Ford didn’t feel up to the task. So, he asked Spielberg to make a change. Spielberg agreed. Out of sheer necessity, Ford made a creative choice, a choice that would make for arguably the film’s most memorable scene.
The enemy wields a huge sword and then swirls it like a Circe De Soleil pizza. Ford – as Indiana Jones – grimaces in mild irritation, pulls out his revolver, and blasts the Arab.
The scene and the scene’s back-story are telling for at least two reasons. One, as creatives, like Indiana Jones, we each face the equivalent of the sword-wielding enemy. We’re challenged in ways that bring out our highest skills. But, like Ford the actor, we’re also beset by annoying obstacles like illness or broken ankles or unexpected obligations. Sometimes, the best solution to a challenge or obstacle is the simplest and most elegant. Both cases involve drawing upon your wits and the best tool for the situation.
So, say you’ve imagined how you will bring you out and how you will engage with your community in 2017. But it won’t be all blissy flow, free from nagging self-doubt, unexpected surprises like injuries or ailing loved ones, or jolting shifts in your creative field or industry.
Just as you’re feeling in flow with your work, a fly persistently buzzes on your nose. Or you get sick five minutes before delivering a keynote. Or the conference hall roof leaks. Or the main point of your presentation eludes you.
There are problems. And there are challenges. And there are obstacles. They’re not the same. Feeling gratified as a creative does require dexterity and versatility. When challenged, the dexterous business artist knows when and how to use both hands and the best tool at her disposal. When blocked, the dexterous business artist is adept at finagling a way under, around, or between a rock and a hard place. And she also knows when to step back and let the challenge resolve itself or the block to remove itself.
3 KINDS OF GRAND (or Damned) OPPORTUNITIES TO GROW
Problems are what creatives and entrepreneurs thrive on. We are, at our best, problem-trackers, problem-sniffers, problem-solvers. We can even be problem-makers. At our worst, we’re problem-avoiders.
Challenges are the activities that call upon our best wits, skills, talents, and resources as we resolve a number of related creative, intellectual, spiritual, or existential problems. They, too, are where creative maestros thrive. They keep us from becoming sedentary, smug, complacent, or flat.
Obstacles. Well, obstacles can suck, but they’re also inevitable. I mean, the Buddha nailed it on the head as he sat under the bodhi tree and realized, “Life is suffering. Human beings suffer.” Even as I track wonder, I get this. Obstacles are perceived as the factors that block our path, that keep us from attaining our aspirations or achieving our goals.
Problems require solving. Challenges require versatility. Obstacles require change.
Distinguish between routine problems, complex challenges, and perceived obstacles (often external). How are you willing to show up especially to face the inevitable challenges that arise as you pursue your most meaningful goals and dreams? What old patterns and habits will you have to let go of that haven’t worked for you?
This week you can dive into these and other provocations from influential visionaries such as Jonathan Fields (How to Live a Good Life author and Good Life Project founder), Linda Rottenberg (entrepreneur and author of Crazy is a Compliment), and Desiree Adaway (Principal of The Adaway Group).
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