Shoot Your Arrow of Creative Productivity With Grace
Your mind teems with ideas. Plus you want, want, want this year to sustain your creative productivity and execute those ideas into real projects. But you and I know the problems.
You lose your focus.
People makes demands of you.
The economy’s fluctuations and lightning-speed changes in technology dizzy you.
Your time slips away.
Your vision fades into a packed scheduler.
Your confidence dissolves into a pool of “I’m a fraud and a fool!”-ness.
How can you keep up with let alone innovate in your field?
Imagine your creative momentum like an arrow. What keeps it suspended in air and on-target? What makes the shooting and executing feel effortless – even amidst daily challenges and potential distractions?
I’ve been living in those questions for several years. In 2011, I wrote over 70 articles, a dozen poems, and a short story – and in the interim witnessed daily what mind-stuff, health-stuff, tech-stuff, and family emergencies can throw off my momentum. I grew my three businesses by 25% and yet made hiring mis-steps and watched my spirit teeter on the “overwhelm ledge.”
But I also led groups of creatives in the Bahamas; in Taos, New Mexico; in New York’s Hudson Valley, and elsewhere to facilitate their respective productivity. And I interviewed three prominent social psychologists (specialists in wonder, no less) and a cadre of renowned creatives and teachers to understand more precisely what interventions actually work. I often asked them a simple three-part question:
What interventions really help creatives change their habits for the long-term, stoke their drive for the long-term, and offer them deep long-lasting gratification?
And I came back to my center, to what matters most in this one wild life.
As a consultant, facilitator, teacher, leader of an amazing tribe of facilitators, and coach, I’ve finessed a virtual toolbelt of workable and proven interventions that I use with over 20 regular clients and with facilitators in three countries.
Based on what works and on what matters most, I’m launching a new service package – and am offering a substantial discount for five commited creatives.
Most of my clients work with me for two or more years at a time. Why? Because they’re remarkably productive and because what we do works for them. Here are three sample client case studies:
CLIENT 1: Author of Break-through Nonfiction Book with Penguin Press
One client’s break-through book on John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the inner life of artists comes out this summer with Penguin Press. It’s not been an easy birth. She told me last week she realized she’s been researching the subject for 15 years. 15 years of her life devoted to one project! And plenty of doubt arose along the way. But there also were numerous moments of quiet illumination and lots of noisy brainstorming, researching, wondrous questioning, and re-writing, re-writing, re-writing. Now she knows that something else awaits her during her journey’s next leg. What that something else is we’re figuring out.
How she thrives: She knows her stuff. She’s earned her reputation in her field. But she apprenticed herself to learning how to tell stories. She honed a laser-like focus despite many obstacles and distractions. She meditates. She sought and listened to outside perspective on craft, mindset, and work flow.
CLIENT #2: Global Marketing Consultant in Creative Transition
Another client is a global marketing consultant for a world-renowned tech company. We initially worked together on her first screen play, but along the way her professional platform has expanded as she’s been invited to speak at prominent conferences and blog for high-visibility websites. When we first worked together, I often made global suggestions for and edited her blog articles, but after several months she gained not just the confidence but also the know-how to draft and edit her articles herself. “You know, Jeffrey,” she said recently, “you told me months ago that creativity is mostly about know-how and hard work instead of talent, but I didn’t believe you. Now I believe you.”
And something has been rumbling within. She knows the next leg of her journey will not be what she has been doing for, yes, 15 years. We’re tracking that next-ness into an astonishing enterprise for 2012 day by day.
How she thrives: She’s relentless in her focus and work ethic. She develops systems. She seeks and listens to feedback. She apprentices herself to the field – whether the field is screen play writing, story-telling, article writing, blog writing, speaking & presenting, website creating, or enterprise-building. She meditates and practices yoga. She has an active Creative Wild Pack of allies who include a comedian, a designer, an SEO team, an executive coach, and myself. And she’s funny.
CLIENT #3: Retired Piano Teacher-Cum-Award-Winning Essayist
Another client published in 2011 over six creative nonfiction essays and received so many awards and honorable mentions that I’ve been challenged to keep up with her laurels. I predict she’ll have a deal with a traditional publishing house for her first essay collection by the end of 2012. We’ve worked together for over three years.
Her background? She’s a retired classical pianist and piano teaching business owner. She’s the mother of two dynamic daughters. She’s weathered numerous crazy adventures – and paid attention to them.
In other words, no formal training.
How she thrives: She possesses an indomitable spirit, a thirst to learn like a true apprentice, a smart non-attachment to what she writes, a mind that assimilates craft quickly, and a business-like approach to “shipping” her essays for publication. She practices yoga, hikes up mountains every week, and otherwise keeps her body electric plugged in. She also has a Creative Wild Pack of at least two other writers whose sensibilities she trusts with her work. They’ve been known to craft their own Yoga As Muse sessions of movement, creating, and feedback.
You’ll hear more from all three of these clients this year.
THE FOUR FEATHERS OF A CREATIVE MAESTRO’S ARROW
These three clients have sustained their momentum despite numerous setbacks.
Imagine your arrow of creative momentum again. It has four feathers that give it graceful direction and elegant execution. Those four feathers include
wide-eyed possibility – the mindset of vision, attitude, and self-reflection that has been proven over and over again to boon creativity
shell-cracking ways of thinking & connecting – the problem-tracking mindset and the social creative mindset that has been proven over and over again to bolster creativity
elegant daily tactics & rhythms – the work flow habits, strategies, and creative actions that have been proven to sustain creative brilliance despite personality quirks and mood shifts
and know-how of your creative field – the versatile know-how that has been proven to lead both to creative productivity and long-lasting gratification.
If you do not yet have (or have “lost”) an optimal and flexible mindset, an elegant work flow, and mastery within your field, then it’s highly likely – again, based on research, experience, and client case studies – that you can gain or re-gain them.
You can become a creative maestro.
My coaching and consulting emphasize the pursuit of mastery. Mastery ultimately involves command and know-how – with high doses of compassion, humor, and humility. The pursuit of mastery breeds confidence without hubris. It quiets anxiety and insecurity and drives most of us toward gratification (i.e., execution and completion!).
Mastery of Mindset. Your most precious resource is your mind. A gratified creative knows how to be in love with that peculiar mystery box even when it’s acting up. We can use specific interventions proven to work for creatives of varied backgrounds. But more importantly, we will discover what is unique about your own creative mind and find ways to help you fall in love with it again if necessary.
Mastery of Workflow. Daunted with multiple tasks and obligations, you might think it impossible to find time for your creative work. But specific interventions tailored to you can help you shape your unpredictable weekly workflow.
Mastery of Field. To be gratified as creative professionals and practitioners in the long-term, most of us need to know what we’re doing. I don’t purport to “know” everything about every creative field. I do know how to mentor you within your specific field so you perceive yourself as working not in a vacuum but in a continuum of other creatives. Ultimately, you’ll learn to mentor your best possible self.