Service Is Not Divine

Figure Out How You Serve

One thing that has helped me move ahead immensely is figuring out how I serve.

Understand of service not only tempers and justifies your grand vision (which is important because generally, only the most worthy visions survive); but it also ensures that you have a good reason for getting up every day. A reason for persisting when times get tough. A moral centre to help make decisions when the way forward is unclear.

The trick is to figure out who you serve, how, and why.   But it shouldn’t be that difficult.  Because the people that you serve are probably around you every day. They always have been.  And you have probably always known who you want to help, and how, and why at some level – possibly since you were very young.  It’s that thing that has always been true – you were always good at it.  It always got you fired. up.

Listen to this week’s podcast to learn more.

Get Creative

One of the best things that happened to me along my journey as an artist and entrepreneur is that I no longer look at discipline as something that other people have, but not me.
I no longer see creativity, and huge creative output, as a mystery.  I no longer believe there are things I just can’t do.
Creativity has become a tool that I can summon whenever I want, and although it can be difficult at times (sometimes nothing comes, sometimes nothing GOOD comes) there are also moments of flow, where new and unexpected ideas come up, seemingly out of nowhere.   I treat my creative body of work like I resource I must protect, and defend – almost like a “seed feed, and weed” paradigm, I have to prepare it, nurture it, and groom it to make sure it produces the best possible output.

Turning Daily Life Into Conversations

No matter what your art or business, you have to write more than ever before.   Staying creative and productive is difficult – if we assume that creativity and content are scarce.
They’re not.   Audiences may expect volume, but they don’t expect perfection.  They want raw, honest, current, candid.   They want you.   So snap a picture, record a clip, or start a video recording while you do whatever it is you do.  Invite your audience in to a day in the life – your studio, your writing desk, your rehearsal space.   Speak with them openly, and unscripted.   Show them your process,  or a pre-release peek at your work.
Or let them follow you on your way to work, waiting in line, on the train, at the farmer’s market…on a walk, in the kitchen.   Tell them about the conversations you just had with friends, or the conversations you’ve been having in your head.
It requires courage to work without a net.   But the cool thing is…it almost doesn’t matter what your product is.   If you are prepared to let the world in, to share, to turn your daily life into your content, people will respond to that honesty.   They will come and look; and stay, and come back again.

The Routines You Run

We all run routines.

Routines are the automatic processes that, through practice and habitualization, we don’t have to think about anymore.  From chewing food to driving, routines allow us to autopilot activities so we can free up brainpower to do more important things.

But are all of your routines good routines?  It turns out that there are bad habits – and we all know which ones we have – and there are negative thought patterns too.   When the stories we tell ourselves about why we can’t, why we shouldn’t, why we don’t deserve and why we don’t belong run automatically AND with our permission, they have a severe limiting effect on the quality of our lives.

Check out the episode here.

The Artist And The Day Job

To be an artist you have to struggle, right?  Having that day job will not only distract you from making your art, it will colour it with commercial impurities.  Having your mortgage payment ready at the end of the month will make you soft….the stream of nonsense continues from there.
Starve if you want to.  It doesn’t make you better.  I think the struggling young artist was an archetype created by the industry long ago.  The realities of this world are that you have bills to pay and people to take care of.  None of those things invalidate your voice, or cheapen your art.
In fact more and more, the industry of the arts doesn’t pay well.  It doesn’t value artistic works or artists themselves.  It values entertainment, buzz, and controversy, but artistry – not so much.  Until we come up with better models and undo the damage that the last 2 decades of cheapening visual arts, music, writing, and performance, people will more frequently turn to hybrid models – I work to pay my bills, I work to finance my art, but I live to create.
Does this mean your ‘real job’ starts at 5PM?  or 9PM after everyone is in bed?   Does this mean I have to get up at 7AM AND play shows until 1AM then get up and do it all again?  It might.
But I suspect that if this is the thing that you love, that you were born to do, you were probably prepared for that anyway..

Presentation to City Of Oshawa – Leadership

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“Live your Creed” – Original graffiti art by Paul Paget (http://graffitivoice.weebly.com) – I’m so honoured to have it!

Hey everybody – thank you to all of the great folks who came out tonight in the City of Oshawa and to Oshawa Culture for hosting me!  I was especially honoured by this original bit of graffiti art that one of the attendees made for me/Fuse Chamber – as soon as I get his details I’ll credit it properly and put up some links!

So many talented and passionate folks and you should all know that being able to speak to you is the job of my dreams….so thank you for allowing me to do what I do.

If you enjoyed the section on ‘routines’ and how they could be the thing holding you back (without even knowing it) then stay tuned because I just finished a podcast episode on it, and it should be posted in the next week or so.   Meanwhile, you can check out the episode on leadership qualities that I posted last week to tie in to our discussion tonight.

Download the presentation here.   For those who weren’t at the February session on Branding, you can get that presentation here as well!

More details and info soon – check back by the end of the week for a quick recap and some references…..

-Chris

The Qualities of A Leader

I think there’s a massive call for leadership in the arts.   We need leaders to champion the cause of arts funding in our communities.  We need innovators to come up with distribution models that pay the artists.  And we need bold voices creating content.

Remember that a leader is simply someone who goes first.   It doesn’t take the endowment of a title.  It doesn’t require permission.  It requires courage, humility, awareness and vision.   These are all skills that you can develop – that you must develop in order to make your voice heard.   A follower requires a leader in order to make a meaningful, valuable connection.

The question is always ‘who’.  Not everyone who creates art or works in the industry will be a leader.   Many of us hear the call, but far fewer know how to answer it.  It will require dedication to the cause, even in the most uncertain times.  It will require trial by fire; grit, resilience, and discipline.

Most people won’t find what is required – most won’t do what it takes.   Will you?

Listen to this week’s episode.

What It Takes To Be Creative

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One word.  Discipline.

Stop worrying about finding the Muse, about waiting for that perfect idea, that mythical moment of inspiration that doesn’t really exist.

The hard work of pumping out ideas for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes – start wherever you are right now and build.  Build from 50 words, 100 words.   Commit to doing it, every day, and then commit to growing it.

The only way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas.  But if you wait for the perfect idea, you are missing the daily opportunities to produce the kind of volume that fosters genius in the first place.

Look closely at your heroes.  Research what they have to say about inspiration and perspiration.  About showing up.  About grind and hustle.  About doing the work.  None of them – NONE – rely on that spark in the middle of the night.  Although it does come every once in a while, you have to fill the rest of your time making the perfect conditions for her arrival.

So set a timer and go.

Check out this week’s episode here.

Practice Combat Every Day – 5 Steps to Beat Hesitation, Procrastination and Overwhelm

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You don’t have to be massively better than the competition.  You just have to be 1% better.
It’s not always about being the very best – sometimes, it’s about outlasting everyone else – being the last person to quit.
Do you feel like every day is a challenge?  Do you feel weighed down by the assault from every angle?  If the career is going well, you might have a health scare or a family problem or relationship troubles or money worries or a scratched fender or you went over on your data plan….each day is full of challenges that can wear you down.   Even if you do have clarity in your work life, everyone around you seems to be screwing things up, slowing you down, or getting in your face.   Some days it seems like too much to bear, doesn’t it?
Honestly – the work that we do seems to be the easy part.  Making your art, editing, publishing, promoting, selling….at least if its in your hands you are in control of the quality.   The hard part is lasting through all the other challenges.  I think this IS the actual grind.   This is what you have to get good at.  Because when people give you their reasons for giving up and going back to their day job, they’ll say “it was too hard”….and they’re never talking about the Making Your Art part of the job.
I love talking about grit because I think its the area we are failing at in our education and parenting efforts. If I could give all of you one gift it would be the ability to last through the noise and clutter – once you get the hang of this, you’re able to look at it and laugh at how wasteful and petty most of it is.  If you will experiment with me in the practice of being mindful – watching how challenges impact your thought process and emotional responses, giving it a label so you can understand the way you process challenges and what effect that has on your mind and body, and then choosing a new response – you can become massively powerful.
Because you’ll outlast the competition every time.