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 robbery scene in Coming to America:
What can we learn?
The nature of my ambition took shape. Akeem was hired to mop the floors, not work security. But when he saw that the entire restaurant was in danger, he took initiative and hired himself. He used his extensive skills combat training and conflict resolution to disarm the robber and save the day. Proving, that hiring yourself has nothing to do with employment and everything to do with resourcefulness, enterprise, autonomy and agency. It’s about accepting that you have to make work for yourself, work that nobody ask you to make. It’s about building enough capital so you can subsidize your own initiatives, both emotionally and financially. And it’s about busting through the walls of permission, meaning, the mental constructs of notenoughness, and acting on your dreams with open eyes. The hard part is, ambition grosses some people out. When you hire yourself, others might feel disenfranchised by your desire. Because they have no incentive to see you change. They would rather you remain frozen in the position they met you in. It’s the strangest thing. Not everybody wants you to be successful. In fact, some people are just waiting around, excitedly, for you to fail. And so, it’s your responsibility to keep moving the story forward. Are you giving people ammunition to shoot down your ambitions?
Ambition can be expensive. Miller writes that the reason people avoid having a clear ambition is because the second they stand up and point toward a horizon, they realize how much there is to lose. Good point. Then again, that’s the fine print of life. The disclosure statement of transformation. You will lose more than you ever signed up for, but you will gain more than you ever hoped for. Akeem’s ambition is to find a wife. Someone who arouses his intellect as well as his loins. Someone who loves him for who he is, not just what he is. And he knows that means surrendering his pampered life and throne to the king, maybe for a month, maybe for a lifetime. But he doesn’t care. Finding love is the first ambition that’s truly his, that belongs to him. It galvanizes him and makes him feel alive and complete. We should all be so lucky. Not only to have the opportunity to dream our dream, but to actually live it. To wake up everyday with the excitement at having discovered something worth doing, something we can call our own. That’s the stuff a good life is made of. Not the good life, but a good life. A life where we actually have something to point to. What is essential to your sense of being on purpose?
Your niche is you. McDowell’s restaurant didn’t run a classified ad seeking a brilliant, peaceful, energetic, hard working, lovable man with a regal disposition. They just needed a warm body to fill the slot in their corporate machine so they could keep up production. Akeem, however, showed up and created his own niche. Through his unique combination of capabilities and attitudes, he became the go to guy. He positioned his talents to create an entirely new product category. Not as a window washer, but as a resource for the entire organization. Someone you could use every part of, like a buffalo. Proving, that the best way to beat the competition is to not have any. That the best way to bring home the bacon is to raise your own pigs. Akeem reminds me a lot of my mentor, a preacher and educator who used to say, my niche is me. Because it is our work that creates the market, not the other way around. We are the ones signing the paychecks, not the ones waiting around to see if we’ll get one. Yes, it takes confidence and courage and perseverance to open a boutique, but if we can do it successful, people won’t just buy from us, they’ll congratulate us for cracking the code and getting into the club. How can you change the rules so you can win at your own game?
What did you learn?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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