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Monday, April 27, 2015

Moments of Conception 170: The Planning Scene from Up In The Air

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.


Today's clip comes from the planning scene in Up in the Air:




Stare into the mouth of panic and see possibility. The hard part about dreaming is, once your dream comes true, you have to learn to live with it. You have to exist in the world that you created. You actually have to do something with the idea that you killed yourself for. And it’s kind of a bittersweet symphony. Because the pride and joy and satisfaction of achievement is quickly replaced by the fear and vulnerability and pressure of reality. Just ask anyone who creates for a living. The moment you wrap on a new project, kick out the press release and announce to the world that your new brainchild has finally arrived, you’re immediately gripped with quiet panic. And you starting asking yourself these strange new questions. Are you sure you’re ready for the world to see you as you really are? What if you can’t afford to follow this dream anymore? What if you’re not the same person as you when the dream started? And if so, does that mean you have to readjust your dream so it reflects something that satisfies you when you step away from it? Campbell explained that the final stage of the hero’s journey was bringing the elixir back to the ordinary world. Turning back to help humanity along the difficult path that you yourself have just walked and conquered. But what if that’s not enough for you? What if you sense the beginning of a different and more courageous dream? It’s highly neurotic, but it’s also human nature. And nobody seems to want to talk about it. So we have to confront this reality. Because not facing the fire doesn’t put it out. Can you answer all the questions about your dream?

Create positive tension for yourself. When my wife and I decided to relocate across the country, I wrote a press release. Mainly because it was funny, but also because I didn’t want to lose momentum. I didn’t want another reason to back peddle on our dream. What’s interesting is, the moment we shared that press release with the world, plans started to align. Not because we earned a ton of headline impressions, but because we had created positive tension for ourselves. The press release painted us into an accountable corner. Not through distress, but eustress. Constructive conflict. Intensity through total involvement. That was our strategy to increase motivation, adaptation and reaction to the environment. And it worked. Within four short months, we had downsized, combined, relocating and restarted our lives. Best hundred bucks I ever spent. Proving, that when you lose momentum, self propulsion is the only thing that will move you forward. It’s like printing business cards for a company you haven’t started yet. That commitment device creates social pressure and positive tension. By virtue of physically handing them out to people, you’re forced to reckon with the infallible judgment of reality. A place with enough social pressure to make sure failure isn’t interpreted away. How could you increase your commitment by creating unacceptable consequences of failing?

Shake off the shackles of expectations. Natalie is overflowing with plans and ambitions and deadlines for her perfect life, complete with a perfect career, perfect community, perfect husband, perfect car and even a perfect dog. But she’s discovering that life can be wildly underwhelming. And that people will thwart your expectations every way you can imagine, and in many ways you can’t. This movie reminds me of my twenties, when I had enough goals to keep god busy. And I accomplished every one of them. But the strange part is, I wasn’t any happier. I just had a thicker resume. And so, I started to realize that I didn’t need a goal, I needed a process. A system. A set of practices I executed on a regular basis to increase my odds of happiness in the long run. As my favorite book states, only reasonable goal in life is maximizing your total lifetime experience of something called happiness. So I focused on that. And life got a lot happier. Because when you prioritize achievement over contentment, burdened by the belief that you haven’t done enough to be okay with yourself, happiness has a hard time bubbling to the surface. You have to roll an awful lot of rocks up an awful lot of hills, just to get a taste of that sweet air. But when the anxious part of you is finally resting, no longer suffocating under an avalanche of expectation, it's amazing how freely the vomit of happiness spews out. Lesson learned, goals are overrated, deadlines are jokes and plans are procrastination in disguise. What if you allowed themes to emerge in your life, rather than force your own expectations upon it?

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Broken vessels aspiring to a lost wholeness

I once heard a startup founder say that the best way to get funding is to act as if you’ll never get it, and to make a plan that doesn’t need it. 

What a brilliant way to work. 

Why hang your sense of success, the fullness of your heart, and the stability of your soul on the fickle whims of external validation? Successful people don’t view themselves as passive organisms meant to be maneuvered by external forces and conditions, they attain an inner posture that finds its own equilibrium. They don’t wait around for a sugar daddy to greenlight their desires, they create a sense of self so complete that external influences have no authority within their consciousness. Because they know if they wait to be funded or rewarded or even recognized before they start doing the work, they will probably wait forever. 

And so, they trust that what they already have and who they already are is enough to get started. I’m reminded of a brilliant book I read about breakups, and how important it is to feel complete on your own. The authors advised heartbroken lovers to run headfirst into life. To project an image to their exes that says, look, despite the heartache and loss, the reason you’re not hearing from me is because I am too busy taking care of myself and moving on with my fabulous new life. 

That’s the kind of wholeness each of us should seek, in our businesses and in our lives.

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That Guy with the Nametag
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scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com


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Saturday, April 25, 2015

The capacity for delayed gratification

Seinfeld once said that comedy takes a lot of talent, but an equal measure of temperament. 

It’s a fascinating insight that can be applied to many career paths. Because somebody might have the talent to do great work, but the real question is, do they have the discipline to continue working without seeing any results? 

That’s the line of demarcation between professionals and amateurs. The capacity for delayed gratification. Ask anyone who’s spent a few years trying to make a living by their wits, that path will cause them to tap reservoirs of strength and patience they didn’t even know they had. 

Having played music for more than twenty years, I was forced to develop my patience muscle early and often. But although it drove me up the wall as a kid, little did I know, that spirit of incrementalism would come in handy as an adult. 

Because now my job is create art on a daily basis, never knowing if I will get recognized for it or not, much less paid for it. 

And I’m perfectly at peace with that. I’ve trained myself to be okay winking in the dark, singing to the wall and writing into the ether, never convinced that the world is blind to my talents. It’s all part of the temperament that comes with the creative territory. 

And it’s not a prerequisite, but it certainly makes the slog more tolerable. 

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www.nametagscott.com


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Friday, April 24, 2015

Conserve your best energies for your creative efforts

There’s an inverse relationship between feedback and creation. 

I have an artist friend who said once she let go of how the world validated her art, she gained a tremendous sense of creative freedom, and that lifted a weight of expectation that allowed to start creating more. 

Hallelujah. 

Deciding to permanently affix your fingers into your ears is a breakthrough moment for any artist. Because let’s face it, feedback is completely overrated. It rarely bears any resemblance to your inner creative reality. 

Dilbert said it best when he suggested that constructive criticism was really just an uninformed opinion about things people don’t understand. I’m sure most creative people would agree. 

And so, next time you put something new into the world, instead of chewing up valuable time listening to confusing and disruptive feedback that you’re just to get defensive about and ultimately ignore, just move onto the next thing.

Aim for volume, not accuracy. Practice a little selective indifference. Be discerning enough not to dwell on meaningless matters. Conserve your best energies for your creative efforts. 

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com


Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2015-2016.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

You don’t have to justify want

We’ve always been told that it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. 

But isn’t the ultimate freedom refusing to explain yourself to people? Isn’t the goal to get to a place where you don’t feel obligated to explain and excuse and defend and justify and apologize for everything you make? 

It’s such a colossal waste of energy. And the worst part is, it never makes you feel better. Backpedaling only makes things worse. 

I’m reminded of my favorite comedian, who unapologetically said that he only did comedy for himself. Carlin said the fact that his work involved other people was great. And that it amused them and gave him an income was great too. But he did it just to have a chance to sing his song. George actually used to come right out and tell his audiences, you’re here for me, I’m here for me, and nobody’s here for you. 

And people loved it. They just ate it up. His productive selfishness didn’t require explanation. 

Which only proves the point further, begging for forgiveness is wildly overrated. Enough with the disclaimers. Just do the work and move on. Any attempt to make grand claims about what the work is, what it’s supposed to do, why you deserved to make it or what people should think about it, is a waste of time. 

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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com


Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2015-2016.

Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Turn that story upside down

Manhattan is a city of achievers. 

People move here because it’s the place where things happen. Where the lights inspire you and the streets make you feel brand new, as the song goes. 

And so, everyone has an agenda. Everyone has eyes full of dreams. There are eight million centers of the universe scrambling around town, building their personal real estate, froggering their way to the front of the line, so obsessed with success that they barely smile. 

No wonder people walk so damn fast. 

What’s interesting is, I moved to this city with an uncommon posture. Prior to living here, I was already making things happen. I had already made a name for myself. I had already found a life companion with whom to do so. And that posture completely changed my experience of living here. 

Because once I let go of the need to prove myself, no longer gripped with quiet panic and tight anxious hands, I suddenly felt much lighter. Instead of running around making it all the time. I was just floating along blissfully despite the chaos around me, liberated from the burden of expectation. 

What a glorious relief. What a serene reminder. 

Turns out, we don’t have to buy into the narrative that every merchant of mass delusion tries to sell us. We can be intentional about doing it our own way.

As my mentor once told me, we can make the choice to turn that story upside down. 

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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com


Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2015-2016.

Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!