AJ Kessler is an extremely talented guy with lots of great insights on art, business, philosophy, and life. He's an excellent photographer, and he was kind enough to write a post on creativity for us. I'm pleased to bring it you. Here's AJ -
"I'm just not a creative person."
I hear that all the time. It's complete bullshit.
If you've never created something, or done something you'd describe as creative, you may lack awareness or curiosity (two conditions which are easily fixed with minimal effort), but that doesn't mean you're not creative.
Anyone can be creative. Even kids are creative, and kids don't know anything. That's the secret though: they're creative because they don't know anything. They don't know how things work and they don't know what the outcome is supposed to be. So they ask questions, they try things, they experiment, they break things. If the end result looks good to them, they're done.
I ate a blueberry scone today. I normally don't eat sweets, but I've been walking about 5 hours a day seeing sights and temples, and I realized I was only eating like 1800 calories. So, that ain't good. The only high calorie item at Starbucks, so I got the scone. It tasted great.
And I thought about it. Why does the scone taste great, when healthier stuff doesn't?
Answer: Because our taste buds don't suit us well in the modern day. The reason junk food tastes good is because it was advantageous in the past. Sweet things, high density carbs, and fats were really efficient for surviving and not poisonous back then.
But now, they're not the best way. The taste buds evolved to help us survive, but now they're kind of not helping. It's like a broken speedometer in a car. Foods are supposed to taste good to let you know that they're safe and beneficial to eat. But now, we don't get poisoned from toxic plants... we get poisoned from too much refined sugar with diabetes and obesity and such.
It'd be like if you were watching the speedometer in the car and it said "65" on the freeway, but you were going 110 in reality. Eating off what your taste buds tell you is bad for your survival now.
Got a long email from a reader with some great questions - he's a very impressive dude, but he has a hard time sticking with something for more than 1.5 to 3 years. If you have this trait as well, you might want to pay close attention to this post
And I have a real problem "falling in line" with the rest of society in a stable, consistent and "normal" life. I just feel like it's not me.
Yup, I know exactly how you feel. I've been in similar places. So have a lot of my friends. Some thoughts -
What I see as a recurring theme in my jump from job to job and industry to industry is my utter lack of real fulfillment. Don't get me wrong, I do have a temporary sense of fulfillment and meaning with the careers I have pursued, they just don't seem to last. Once I have focus on what it is that I want to do I am relentless in achieving it. For instance, after 3 years in the --- industry I have acquired the knowledge that many people don't achieve until 10, 12 or even 15 years in the industry. However, that life-cycle tends to be around 18-months, where I then become unfulfilled by the rate of learning and progress I am making. This ultimately leads to erratic behavior within the succeeding months and a feeling that I need to drop what I'm doing and move onto something else - whether that be a new job or a new career altogether.
Google the term "rage to master" - click around, read some summaries, and then check out a couple academic papers. It will be very worth your time.
3 dollars a day is $1,000 per year.
Actually, it's a little more than that.
$2.74 is $1,000 per year.
But call it $3, since it's easy to remember.
This is where small numbers add up.
From Jay Abraham's "Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You've Got," which is quite good and full of stories like this -
Major breakthroughs come from the correct mind-set. It's an attitude-an opportunistic attitude. People who make breakthroughs are always opportunity-focused. People who don't, aren't. It's that simple.
In 1972 the Democratic convention nominated George McGovern to run for president against Richard Nixon. During the convention, Senator McGovern dumped his vice-presidential running mate, Senator Eagleton. A young, sixteenyear- old entrepreneur saw a one-time opportunity and bought up five thousand suddenly obsolete McGovern-Eagleton buttons and bumper stickers. He paid about five cents apiece for them. He soon resold them as historical and rare political memorabilia for as much as $25 per item.
This is an excellent example of an ethically opportunistic mind-set. True, the young man's one-time windfall profit did not result in a major industry breakthrough. But what is important is that he had the opportunity-focused attitude that is needed to see an opportunity where no one else did. That young man, by the way, was Bill Gates.
"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - From Shakespere's Hamlet
That quote has been a fantastic driver of good feelings for me.
There's a pretty large category of things that are aggravating if you let them aggravate you, but not bothersome if not.
I've left Mongolia now, but my last week in town, there was some pretty serious construction going on right next to my building.
I'd be trying to grab a nap or concentrate and the BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG would continue from next door.
One of the coolest stories I got from "Call Me Ted," Ted Turner's autobiography, was about his "Beg-a-thon."
He had launched some local television channels in the South with different kinds of programming than were common for the day. He focused primarily on classic movies when most channels were going for more prime time programming. Thus, his channels got quite popular with demographics of people who didn't want the perceived sex and sleaze in normal TV (tame by today's standards, but that's the way it goes...)
What he did was have a "Beg-A-Thon" on TV, where they live requests between shows to fund the studio and keep it going. They got on local figures - the mayor, policemen, civil servants, various workers, moms, and kids - to talk about how they liked the channel to make a pledge.
Since TV was new at the time and this channel was one of people's favorites, they actually raised the $25,000 he needed to survive!
Ted kept detailed records of everyone who donated, and once the channel was profitable three years later, he paid everyone back $4 for every $3 they donated.
Important question from a reader -
I have come to believe that motivation is a limited and renewable resource. My day job as a trader is intense and stressful and I am left with little motivation by the end of the day. I have realized that I need to shift from working hard to working smart. In my case, this means giving away maintenance tasks to others while I work on new creative projects. Unfortunately, this is a challenge because I take on too much responsibility over my creations. I am hesitant to hand things off to others because I tend to micromanage. I need to learn how to let go of old responsibilities so I can take on new, and more profitable ones.
I suffered through the same thing.
You're probably a maximizer.
Great email from a reader here, republished with permission -
This is just a quick "off the head" reply.
I haven't spoken, emailed to you in awhile, but I had to tell you that this is the most important thing:
In my most humble opinion, the SINGLE most important difference between those who are SUCCESSFUL and those who are not (and you can define success in ANY way you want, doesn't matter) is this:
I've been theorizing on this.
For most people, their emotions move in cycles. It's not always so predictable as the image, but there's going up and going down.
During normal life, you do normal life stuff.
But I think the lows and highs call for different approaches.