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.
Based on my books in The Prolific 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 regret scene from Good Will Hunting:
Decisiveness is the antidote to regret. I’ve done plenty of things for the wrong reasons. For the money, for the resume, for the attention, for the approval, for the applause, for the story, for the achievements, and of course, for the need to prove myself. But looking back, the experiences I’m most proud of, the projects that were the most rewarding and the investments that yielded the greatest dividends, were the things I did because I didn’t want to regret not doing them. Because I didn’t want to die wondering. That’s enough for me. And I understand that some people get grossed out by ambition. But there’s no shame in going for it. There’s nothing uncool about caring. Everything I’ve gone for has given me something. It’s the alternative to going for it, the downside of not trying, the naked terror of regret, that really scares me. Having to live with the question, I wonder if I could I have done that, is what puts enough of a roar in my ears to keep trying new things. Sean’s story is perhaps the most romantic moment of the entire movie. Who needs baseball when you have true love? Even if it made no sense to give away his ticket for the biggest game in the team’s history just to have a drink with a woman he’d never met, what calls out is the state of the heart. And if we don’t heed that call, we’ll never get the chance to discover what’s waiting on the other side. Cohen once said that the heart is a complex shish kebab in everybody’s breast and nobody can tame or discipline it. Sean was making the same point. It’s not our job to explain the heart. It’s our job to listen to it. What could you do to force yourself to you listen to yourself?
You believe in me, and I trust your judgment. When people start questioning their own value and beating themselves up for not being useful to the world, the best gift we can give them is encouragement. And not just inspiring them to become more of what they are, but empowering them to become more of what they never thought they could be. Anytime we help another human being believe that something bigger is possible for them, that’s magic. And those people never forget. I have a close friend who’s always been a beacon of encouragement for me.. And I’ll never forget the text message he sent me on the biggest night of my life. It was the rehearsal dinner for my wedding. I was scheduled to perform two original songs in front of two hundred of my closest friends and family. And I was terrified. It’s one thing to busk for strangers, but the sheer vulnerability of performing my own songs in front of everyone I love, yikes. But I powered through. I sang my heart out. And the crowd went nuts. More importantly, my best friend sent me a private message that said, essentially, where the hell did that come from? I had no idea you that in you. Why are you not playing music in public more often? That was enough for me. That was the encouragement I needed to come out of music hibernation and give my musical gifts a more prominent place in my life. I even made a concert documentary about it. The point is, if you’re lucky enough to have someone go out of their way to tap you on the shoulder and say, hey, you should do something with this; if you’re fortunate enough to have someone stand beside you as you stare into the abyss and whisper into your ear, come on man, just keep going, don’t keep it a secret. Never be bashful about making your believer aware of their impact. Who are your beacons of encouragement?
Anchor meaning onto every experience. Frankl had it all wrong. There is no search for meaning. Meaning is made, not found. Anything can be a meaning making opportunity because anything can provoke the psychological experience of meaning, as I learned from my favorite existentialist. It’s simply a matter of intention. Thoughtfulness. Cognitive positioning. Going out of your way to frame your experiences as meaningful. Creating a sense of eventufulness in everything you do. That’s what makes regret an impossibility. This daily practice is my literally my religion. The word religion, after all, derives from the word meaning to link back. Therefore, my religion is the one thing in my life that all the other things in my life link back to. And so, my meaning making mission is the primary organizing principle of my life. It’s even fleshed out on a physical list that I keep in front of me at all times. This a helpful framework that reminds me how I’ve established a level of order for everything that’s meaningful to me. That way, anytime I’m feeling angry or empty or said, instead monitoring my mood, I make my meaning. It’s as simple as picking a line item from the list. Because I know that how I construe meaning dictates how I will live my life. As my mentor advised, we need to embrace the idea of meaning as a renewable resource and, as a consequence of that, look forward to each new day as an opportunity to make meaning. Not to search for it. Not to seek it out. To create it. What might become available when you shift from seeking meaning to making it?
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What did you learn from this movie clip?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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