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 classroom scene in Searching for Bobby Fisher:
What can we learn?
Generosity is the tax you pay for talent. Happiness comes from freedom, and freedom comes from finding a home for all of your talents. Josh had that kind of freedom. He was better at chess than anyone has ever been at anything in their lives. That’s not a game, that’s a gift. That’s art. And so, imagine a world where you were firing on all cylinders. Keeping all of your passions in play. Drawing out your full ingenuity. Making use of everything you are. Leaving no faculty untapped, and leaving no asset unharvested. That’s happiness. Because with every new talent you give yourself permission to exploit, you open a new vein of freedom that didn’t exist previously. It’s simply a matter of permission. Allowing yourself to give your hidden gifts a more prominent place in your life. I spent twenty years writing and singing music before I had the guts to share my songs with the public. The material was just too personal. Too bloody. To precious to be subjected to the cruel ear of the world. But then I had an epiphany. Generosity is the tax you pay for talent. If you’ve been given a gift, something special that allows you deliver value that nobody has ever delivered before, you have an obligation to share it. To regift it so it brings joy to others. Anything less is an act of ingratitude. And so, I finally gave myself permission to share my songs publicly. And when I did, everything shifted. My relationship to the music, my context in the world, my identity as an artist, my leverage in the marketplace and my connection with the audience. What strength, skill or gift do you wish to use more fully?
Apply the training you already have. Josh first learned how to play chess from watching street virtuosos in the park. And with their guidance and encouragement, he quickly became one of the greatest champions in the history of the game. Then, after fifteen years of mastering chess, he moved away from the board and transitioned into the study of martial arts. He became a beginner again, but by taking the training he already had and applied it, he became a champion at yet another game. Next, he started deconstructing what he’d been doing rather intuitively and abstractly so it could be replicated more exactly and practically. And the result was a best selling book about the art of learning. But what’s most interesting about his career trajectory is where he landed. Josh now runs an educational foundation dedicated to an individualized approach to learning, where he consults internationally on the subjects of performance psychology, the learning process and creativity. That’s perhaps his greatest art of all. Josh created something new out of intermingling his interests. He used the hard core formative time to lay groundwork for the years to follow. And that foundation now enables him to make a massive, meaningful contribution to people’s lives––not because of chess and martial arts, but because of the person he became while mastering chess and martial arts. In which discipline have you already built a lifetime of foundational development?
The shortcut to motivation. The chief struggle for any creator is that of motivation. Physically dragging their bones out of bed and making new things, every day. And while there are countless tools and tactics and tricks for disciplining yourself and overcoming procrastination, frankly, it’s just too much work. And too much time. In fact, some of those strategies can actually become counterproductive. Because we spend too much of our psychic energy trying to overcome procrastination that we don’t have any juice left for the actual creation. Then challenge, then, is finding the central lever that galvanizes the whole creative machine. The catchall that can be trusted to obfuscate procrastination. What is it? Passion. Enthusiasm. Irrational exuberance. To quote my favorite song of all time, it was a love so big that it filled his heart, and when it swelled and finally burst apart, the love spilled out they call it art. That’s passion. That’s motivation. And if you ask any artist who’s deeply passionate about a particular creative project, motivation isn’t an issue. Ever. Because it’s a million times easier to focus on the path when passion is embedded into the pavement. When what you do is a vehicle for living what is important to you. How can you unify your work with our sense of life?
What did you learn?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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