It struck me recently that the economy is actually built upon failures, as opposed to successes.
One would think that it was all the money generated by the huge successes that really powers everything. But really, the bulk of the results in business are failures — or more accurately, unsuccessful attempts. Most of the projects out there don’t succeed (or rather, result in a successful attempt). But there is money spent trying — people to hire, resources to purchase, advertising, support, design, manufacture, printing. And I’m sure there are plenty more industries involved that I am overlooking. But these “failures” far, far outweight the successes we actually hear about. And a lot of money was spent on those attempts.
This got me to wondering if this perspective is something that we can apply to our own businesses, own own “micro-economies”, to help us fuel a more successful version with the understanding of the collectively generative power of unsuccessful attempts. (more…)
One of the demons I’ve had to repeatedly face along my path of creating and sharing my artwork on a daily basis has the indifference to which the creations are received. I know that far more followers on various social media outlets see these posts than do those who interact with them (like, star, fave, etc) because other, non-art posts on those services get that kind of interaction. Not a ton, but enough to contrast that which the art gets.
As a recovering over-identifying artist, this can be a constant jab at the ego. In a way, this was one of the things I wanted to face directly with this practice. Increased production requires the relinquishment of other consumption habits. Social media was an early time-sink that I let go. You discover quickly how tenuous those connections actually were when there isn’t a mutually-flowing dopamine reward of recognition maintained. As Stephen Pressfield says in “The War of Art“, “There is no tribe”.
After a recent vacuum of response from a posted drawing, again the hurt ego reared up and attempted to begin the indignant tirade against its perceived oppressors. But a thought crept in, which slowly defused this rant. I had really been enjoying this last round of art creation. I felt at home, in a style which came easily and allowed me to create more. I knew there was something deeper going on here. (more…)
Inspired by my recent binge-reading over at David Cain's superb blog, Raptitude, I've been practicing mindfulness as a new companion to my regular meditation practice. Quite soon into the practice, I had some subtly shocking revelations that I thought I would share.
When I get someone’s ear long enough to get up on a small soapbox and suggest an entry to the path of self-development, I always point to making the bed and washing the dishes. These habits are all about starting small. So small, if fact, that they might barely even be considered self-development. Let me explain why I think both are key habits to establish. (more…)
Regular readers know that I am am a huge fan of Stephen Pressfield’s ‘artist user manual’ book “The War of Art”. A central focus of the book is the concept that Pressfield names “Resistance”, and it symbolizes all of that psychological stuff that keeps us from creating our work.
Resistance = Perfectionism?
I’ve come to believe that what Pressfield calls Resistance is another name for Perfectionism — at least for me. Perfectionism is a tricky term, because most people (as I once did) think they already know what that word means, and that it doesn’t apply to them. I suggest that anyone who can commiserate with the lack of motivation to start or maintain progress in their chosen creative outlet look into perfectionism a bit deeper.
My research and reading led me to a quite succinct and insightful book that really opened up perfectionism in an easy to understand manner, and offered specific solutions to get past it — yes, it thankfully can be unlearned, and I discuss below some of the excellent tools I’ve discovered to do so. (more…)
I started allotting weekends for personal, non-illustration/cartooning artwork. The days fill up quickly, and I wasn’t getting to work on any of this stuff in the evenings as originally planned.
Here’s a collection of all the drawings to date. You can see more over at my personal art portfolio website. The term “visionary art” seems most appropriate to this kind of approach, so that’s what I refer to the art I create in this style as. Definitely influenced by H.R. Giger, Alex Gray and others.
Fantasy has a connotation of something pleasurable or desirable. But to the perfectionist, control is pleasurable and desirable. The perfectionist has externalized their ego — they have identified with their possessions, their talents, their failures and successes, the attention and approval of the hive — and thus seeks control in the external world in order to preserve self-worth. The perfectionist, in attempting to control the external world, is attempting to protect his sense of self, his ego. The perfectionist perceives it as “out there”, exposed, defenseless.
Rumination is a core tool in the perfectionist’s kit. Rumination is a distorted form of fantasy. A fantasy for those who want control over the external world. Fantasies where we can alter the past or manipulate the trajectories of present circumstances (in other to words, “the future”). Rumination always seems to take two forms: rehearsing the future, and replaying and reworking the past. The story we tell ourselves is that somehow we can analyze the past actions, and then plan perfect future actions. Only it seems we never actually seem to do this. We over-identify so deeply with the outcome that when actually in the present moment, we freeze up.
As the Stoic philosophers point out, we can only control our actions and our responses. Not circumstances, nor outcomes/consequences. Perfectionists seem to be avoiding the only situation where they actually have control: the present moment.
The fool attempts to control consequences; the wise man seeks to control his actions.