Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Moments of Conception 108 -- The Harvard Scene from Legally Blonde

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 new 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 Harvard scene in Legally Blonde:

What can we learn?

An ocean under a fickle moon. Life has a funny way of raising our fuel grade. Elle’s original incentive to pursuing a law degree is to win back her ex, but once she finally realizes he will never respect her, she’s determined to succeed on her own. It’s the classic story of how the rules we navigate by at the beginning shift by the time we get to the end. How what we think love is differs from what we find love to be. But it’s not just a pattern in couples, it’s also a phenomenon in creating. My original motivation for making a documentary was purely creative. I just wanted to share my art with the world. To build a visual archive of ideas things that were important to me at this stage of my life. But that was a year ago. And now that we’ve entered into post production and can see the light at the end of the tunnel, new motivations have surfaced. Bigger ones. Better ones. More mature ones. Now I’m making the movie because it’s an opportunity to fire on all cylinders. To engage in a process that draws out my full ingenuity. To take hidden skills and talents I have not yet tapped into to create value. And to up the emotional, psychological and financial ante, trading in my current success for something better. I believe that’s why the process has galvanized me in such a profound way. It’s demanded that I move to a courageous place that I rarely occupy. How do your original motivations differ from your formed motivations?

Be responsible for your own evolution. We all get trapped on the creative treadmill eventually. Running but never getting anywhere new. Executing but never elevating the work. And when we do, there will always be a ceiling on what we can accomplish. Success will remain asymptotic, always approaching infinity, but never actually getting there. And unless we break the pattern, unless we change the user interface of our realities, we will fail to develop as creators. Elle breaks the pattern. She could easily blend in and bow to the common will, using her beauty and money and personality to life a charmed life. But she’d rather aim herself in the direction of her own creation. And so, instead of becoming a washed up suntan lotion model, she goes on to become happily married and a successful lawyer and politician. Not bad for bratty cheerleader. That’s the thing about going your own way. You have to leave room for the unexpected. Elle probably never could have predicted she’d grow up to become an attorney. But when she looks back on her life, odds are, she’ll think to herself, that sounds about right. How can you design and develop a future that you really want for yourself?

You don’t have to compromise your originality. Harvard has never seen a colorful student like this before. Elle sprays perfume on her college application and records a video essay in a hot tub while wearing a string bikini. Not exactly ivy league material. But although the board of admissions is bewildered at her style and approach, they’re still impressed. So she gets accepted. Now, what’s interesting about her character is, the value proposition evolves. Elle proves to the university that she’s more than just a pretty face in a cute dress when she taps into her extensive expertise in cosmetic surgery, fashion merchandising and perm hairstyling to expose multiple lies in the murder trial, thus exonerating the falsely accused fitness instructor and identifying the murderer. Beauty and charm may have opened the door, but intelligence and judgment keep her in the room. It’s a helpful reminder that if you have shtick, support it with substance. Otherwise it’s just empty calories. You’re multiplying the brand by zero. Do you understand the fine line between purpose driven human uniqueness and a patchwork of weirdness? 

What did you learn?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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

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