Everything In Life Is A Teacher

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

We are here in this physical form of existence to learn and evolve.

How do we learn? Through experience and interaction with everything in our life.

Everything supposedly good or bad are teachers. There are two valid ways to approach the world as our teacher / mirror / lesson. The spiritual and the agnostic perspective. The first way is that something divine put these teachers on our path. Perhaps God, a spirit helper, our deeper self, or a pre-determined life-path put these lessons in our experience so that we learn what we need this lifetime.

Or perhaps we could approach it from a purely agnostic perspective, using the seemingly random experiences in our life as a catalyst for self-evolution, introspection and change in our lives. We can all agree that there is something to learn from everything but we often forget to give the teachers in our life our full attention. When we forget to pay attention, we loose the lesson. This is seen in people who are perpetually in unhealthy relationships or dead-end jobs; or who are continually doing the same things expecting different results (the definition of insanity).

Here are four categories where we find our teachers in life.

People

Every person who enters our life, whether the relationship is fleeting or lasts a lifetime, a positive or negative experience, is a valuable teacher. Even the negative interactions teach us what we want and don’t want. We begin to see patterns of things to avoid. We learn about ourselves and how we react.

Animals

Every animal that crosses our path is a carrier of symbolism which the inquisitive ponder. What does the bird flying in the sky symbolize to you? Perhaps freedom and a higher perspective. How does this relate to your life right now? The snake slithering across your path… how does groundedness, going with the flow and sixth sense relate to your questions?

Our Body

Listening to what our body says is sometimes the most truest and obvious source of wisdom. Does our breath quicken and heart beat in haste after meeting someone? What does that mean? Do you ever feel butterflies in your stomach? What does that mean given the context where it happened?

For women especially, paying attention to the cycles of their body is critical to understanding where they are and what that means.

But perhaps the most stern teacher is dis-ease or other physical afflictions. What emotional state or thought patterns could give rise to the ailment? Do you have too much non-transmuted anger? Are you suppressing emotions? Do you love and accept yourself? Is your career eating you alive? Are the people in your life creating harmony…or disharmony?

If you injured yourself, it is a lesson to be more aware of your surroundings and slow down.

If you find a dis-ease forcing you to be sedentary, it is time to reflect, introspect, visualize and meditate.

If you have inflammation, it is a sign to have more compassion as well as to eat a diet with more anti-inflammatory vegetables.

Our body is the strongest teacher of all.

Circumstance

Sometimes life circumstances are not what you wanted. I have a friend who got into an accident and was forced to stay immobile at a friend’s house in the middle of nowhere while her car was being fixed for weeks. This unintended circumstance forced her into a state of introspection. It removed her from her normal day-to-day environment and allowed her to pursue new avenues of potential she may not have otherwise done. Adversity always contains a lesson; the question is will you learn the lesson or not? Sometimes circumstances come about to prevent something worse from happening. Like getting in a dangerous or worse situation. Sometimes the only thing that can stop a person from getting into a bad situation is something less bad but still troublesome.

Of course happy and comfortable circumstances also contain lessons, but those are the easy lessons that we have no problem accepting into our life. It is the supposed negative circumstances which are more difficult to accept. But once we begin asking the people, animals, circumstances and our bodies “What are you trying to tell me? What is the lesson here? What is the symbolism here? What are you pointing me to?” … the negative people, situations and dis-ease begin to fade away while being replaced with a more harmonious experience.

Creativity As Potentially The Last Human Value

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

In our modern age of robots, machines and computers taking over every task that humans have toiled, we must begin to to ask ourselves….what can humans do that machines cannot? What is the value of humanity?

Victor Frankl says our last human freedom is our ability to choose how we respond to external stimulus. This is something that no person or condition can take away. Not even a Nazi prison camp.

I also say that our last human VALUE is our ability to be creative. This is something that no external mechanism can replace.

I believe that creativity is that last human asset. Creativity in it’s many forms … visual art, dancing, music, theorizing, poetry … is something that transcends logic, linear thinking, and potentially even the localized self. No computer can ever create the same way as humans.

Many politicians talk about how we need more jobs; however the jobs of the old days are not coming back. Over a hundred years ago we had the career of the “lamplighters” who lit the kerosene street lamps. But with the advent of new electric lights, this job was quickly made irrelevant. We are seeing the story of the lamplighters being played out across industries today.

This is ultimately a good thing (once again “bad” things being a blessing in disguise) because it forces us to shift towards the last remaining thing that can never be taken away…creativity.

As a successful large-scale steel sculptor, I have learned tools and methods to cultivate creativity. This also includes how to enter the “flow state” which is the present state-of-mind of which insight is spawned.

With the remaining time, I want to cover two broad subjects: How to cultivate creativity and how to be effective in it:

CULTIVATION:

Self-limiting beliefs.

We are all given the paradigms of what the world is and who we are at an early age. We can spend our entire lives trying to overcome these paradigms. Some things people have heard are criticisms of their own creativity which therefore shut down any further expression as well as phrases like the “starving artist” or “you only make money as an artist when you’re dead”. This are toxic concepts which create failure. How do we address these belief systems?

Self-awareness.

Self-awareness is the flashlight in the darkness of unquestioned paradigms. Prioritizing time throughout the day to become present and observe our reactions to external stimulus as well as watch our own thoughts is key to realizing where these belief systems came from. Once we have identified self-limiting programming we are able to dissolve it with the following…

The power of visualization.

Visualization which is the ability to sense things in our minds…the ability to daydream…to recall a musical composition, choreograph dance, see colors on canvas, feel softness of a pet all in the mind…is the stem cell of creativity. Powerful people from Olympic athletes to CEOs use visualization to see their goals before actually manifesting it in reality. But the kings of visualization are those who use it for creative endeavors. Let me explain one of the most powerful times you can use visualization…

Hypnagogia.

Hypnagogia is the transitory state between wakefulness and sleep. This is a powerful time of visualization because disparate parts of your brain begin talking with each other. Your normal logical mind full of paradigms of what “should be” begins to quiet but is still active enough to consciously guide the other parts of the brain in constructive visualizing. One thing about this hynagogic quasi-dream state is you often forget by the next morning which leads me to the next tool…

The importance of writing.

How many times have you had such a good idea that you didn’t need to write it down because you thought you would remember…..and then forgot…?

This happens to me all the time and I have learned my lesson… Write down everything.

Let me give a metaphor, your brain is like a small desk which can only have three pieces of paper visible at anytime. If you need to look at anything else, you need to file away one of the papers in order to make room for the other information. When you write, you expand your desk so that you are able to look at dozens of papers. In essence writing is an extension of the brain. Writing does two things. First our minds often are filled with worries, tasks, and thought-loops which bog down our brains and disable us from entering the flow state of creativity. Writing allows our minds to relax from thinking about it by putting these things outside of ourselves onto paper. Secondly, writing coalesces the nebulous, an important element of being effective.

EFFECTIVE:

Coherence.

Many creative people have trouble getting past the state of day-dreaming and actually manifesting their dreams in reality. This is where coherence comes in. A 60w lightbulb only dimly lights a room whereas collecting all of those photons into a single laser beam gives enough power to cut through steel. This is what I call “coalescing the nebulous” and is the single most important aspect to becoming effective at turning creative visualizations into reality. Besides writing, we must focus our efforts with perseverance and organization to manifest our creations.

Living a balanced life.

The effective creative individual must learn how to balance themselves. The past is what we evolve from, the present is where we create and the future is what we plan. Many of us tend to focus on one of these more than the other. Having an imbalance here leads to stagnation and spinning one’s wheels. Likewise it is important to balance productivity versus production capability. In other words, taking time from work to sharpen the saw… but also not perpetually “sharpening the saw” either.

Ritual and routine.

One of the ways to actually bring these diverse tools practically in our life is to create daily rituals preferable in the morning and at night. For example writing three pages of anything and everything that comes to mind first thing in the morning will go a long way to resulting a more focused day. Taking time to intentionally visualize right before sleep can result in the answers you have been looking for. Going for a daily walk as a form of meditation is another way of which to derive creative sustenance and self-awareness.

Meaning and authenticity.

Your creative endeavors should come a place of authenticity. Not so much thinking of what is commercially viable but rather what feels right to you. Remove all restrictions from creative endeavors and that is how you find new solutions, genres, and concepts to make a better world.

An Alternative To The Daily To-Do List

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

If you are like me, you live life through multiple to-do lists. Enough to-do lists to bind into a book. Tasks in my calendar, tasks on pieces of paper, tasks on a whiteboard, tasks on apps, tasks on napkins.

The problem with our to-do lists is they tend to be approached from daily increments. The perpetual question we ask ourselves is, “What can I do today?”

Let me answer that question…not much…

Have you ever felt you didn’t get enough done in a day? You had this massive list of things you wanted done and only accomplished a few in a day. This happens to me all the time because there is only so much you can do in 24 hours.

Here is a new approach, continue with your daily to-do’s while being realistic about what you can really get done in one day. Move the larger multi-day goals onto weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals. On a whiteboard or piece of paper, make headings for the aforementioned time blocks. For the things that always sit on our old to-do list, but never get done because they are bigger projects, move these to the week and month category; it is likely the reason we didn’t get these larger tasks done is because they take multiple days to finish, therefore we don’t get the reward of crossing something off our daily list at the end of the day. Make a progress bar below the longer term goals so that you can get the personal accomplishment feeling of getting ‘er done incrementally. Checking things off the list is a very satisfying thing and making a progress bar enables us to have that same contentment.

Now think about your longer term goals. Where do you want to be in five years? Where do you want to be by the end of this year? Where do you want to be in three months?

Goals in this time-frame likely never made it to your older to-do list because daily lists give us a shortsighted focus where we spin our wheels but don’t make much forward progress; we have our head down in daily work and ignore the big picture.

Whenever you plan your smaller increment lists like daily or weekly tasks, always refer to the long term vision for the year (and five year). Always working your way from the longest term goals to smaller and smaller increments. “Always begin with the end in mind.”

The difference between the old way of doing lists and the new way of doing lists can be illustrated in dealing with finances. The old myopic way is like buying stuff on credit card for the short-term benefit while ending up spending triple over the next eight years by paying only the minimum payment. The new broad-vision way is like investing money every month and having a great nest egg at the end of eight years.

Speaking of forward-thinking-future-focus, let’s also talk about the opposite…retrospection.

With all this looking to the future, we often forget to reflect on our past and where we came from. After all … the past is over, we can’t change it, why think much about it?

For many years, this has been my approach; perhaps this is why my vision has been the most farsighted my optometrist has ever seen. But I have come to realize the power of acknowledging the past. Indeed, the past propels us into the future. It provides the foundation to build from. The past can be like rocket fuel pushing us forward.

Here is my suggestion, at the end of every time interval … day, week, month, quarter, year … take some time to reflect about what you accomplished during the period. Write these things down in a separate nice notebook. We can refer to it whenever we feel down or like we aren’t where we should be. We can open up our accomplishment book and learn to give ourselves more credit for how far we have come. They can be small victories like socializing with a friend you haven’t seen for a long time or making a decision you have been postponing for months, to large accomplishments like finishing a large multi-stage project or hosting an event for dozens of people.

Seeing what we have built and how far we have truly come will provide lift to our wings of forward momentum. It provides a certain contentment and satisfaction to give ourselves; it’s like looking at all the things we have erased from the whiteboard and crossed off the paper.

Key Take-Aways

  • Reflect on upon the past accomplishments.
  • Keep the big picture in mind.
  • Work in larger time-increments.
  • Utilize progress bars for long term goals.

The Why and How: Of Being An Artist

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Why Are You An Artist? What Drew You To Your Craft?

I am an artist for three reasons. Truth, Freedom and Expression.

Truth:

First of all, art is one of the truest forms of expressing the deepest truths of our existence. Whereas in normal prose, we understand through logic and superficial consciousness; in art we understand such abstract concepts like emotion, human archetypes, belonging, interconnectedness, curiosity, etc at a deeper level of knowing. Art serves to remind us what we already know but often forget.

Freedom:

In terms of freedom, being an artist allows me to do as I wish without normal constraints of others jobs. I am free to go for a hike anytime. I am free to dress the way I want. I am free to speak however feels right. In the art world, there is acceptance of the eccentric unlike any other field.

Expression:

And finally, art allows me to express myself. It allows an outlet for my emotions. Art allows my vessel of consciousness to be uninhibited. I believe creativity is the highest form of human expression.

Now let’s talk about why I am specifically a sculptor. The three dimensional nature of sculpture creates a gravity that cannot be ignored. Sculptures create and modify the literal space we inhabit. I have a particular penchant for large-scale public sculpture because of the accessibility to all. I believe it improves the quality of life of all people who interact with it by providing speed bumps to our normal hustle and bustle in the linear world of concrete and boxes. To lift people’s eyes from their phones. To encourage curiosity. To suggest there is still mystery and magic in the world. Public art breaks up monotony and therefore creates a crack for the seed of organic thought and self-awareness to sprout roots.

My sculptures become landmarks in people’s experience and consciousness. The child growing up passing my sculpture on their way to school has been imprinted with it by the time they are an adult. The young friends who meet at my sculpture and go on to get married have their experience marked by it. The business person who walks by my sculpture during their lunch hour has it in their heart. In nature, we often have landmarks to go by such as hilltops, rivers and trees; but in cities we have public art which serve a comparable purpose. The sculpture enters the sub-conscious of people’s experience and I hope it inspires positivity, a verdant life and a heightened awareness.

I choose steel as my medium for it’s fluid malleability and easy translation into large scale.

What Is The Mission Of My Craft?

My purpose in life is to make the world a better place. I believe art can speak the deeper universal truths. I intend for my sculptures to inspire curiosity in people and to derail people, even if momentarily, from their tracks of normalcy. To create space that provide an excuse for people to stop, breath, look around, listen and become aware of both the inner and outer worlds.

What Is The Most Satisfying Aspect Of Your Art?

My art is my progeny. They will outlive me to go on to tell stories. They will go on to reproduce their purpose of creating inspiration. The most satisfying part of my art is not intrinsic within the piece, rather is in the hearts and minds of people who experience my art. Knowing that my art elevates our living environment and has a positive effect on people’s lives is the most fulfilling part of my career. I make art for humanity.

What Is The Greatest Challenge Of Being An Artist In Your Genre?

The greatest challenge is being a steel sculptor is procuring the tools and space to work. My paintbrush and palette in sculpture is the welder, angle grinder, plasma cutter and other tools. I began my tool collection at 14 years old when I had a job as a dishwasher at a local wine and jazz club; I invested all my money into tools. Having the space to house the tools, materials and work-area can be a challenge. For many years, I have fabricated outside in all the elements: wind, snow, rain, freezing to 120 degree heat.

What Recommendations Do You Have For Aspiring Artists?

Devotion.

One must be devoted to one’s art to an obsessive degree. Spend hours immersed in art. Thinking about art. Creating art. Drawing ideas. Practicing. Strive for your own definition of perfection.

Coherence.

To be successful, you must coalesce chaos into form. I believe inspiration exists in an etheric un-defined state. Our consciousness can witness it, but is up to us to manifest reality from the nebulous cloud of inspiration. Think of a laser focusing light into a cohered beam enough to cut steel.

Immersion.

Not to be confused with devotion, by immersion I mean being enveloped in the art world. Go to art galleries, talk with other artists, visit art museums, study the artists you like, read books on art, write about why you do what you do. Likewise, you become like those you hang out with. Choose your friends and environment wisely.

Sleep.

Sleep is often underrated in our society that rewards self-denial to attain greater goals. Getting at least eight hours of quality sleep will reward your creative inspiration and productivity immensely. Sleep cleans the brain of toxins that would otherwise lower our intelligence and stamina. Sleep also puts the mind in an important dream state that make sense of existence at the sub-conscious and un-conscious level.

Balance.

I have experienced burning the candle at both ends and ending up with adrenal fatigue. It took me a full year to recover. Since that time, I now spend more time maintaining the “machine”.

Authenticity.

Be authentic in what you do. Be honest. Maintain integrity. And create from a space that fulfills your heart. Express yourself in an empowered way that makes you alive and abuzz with ecstasy. Do what makes you want to dance. Don’t let others dictate your path. Always ask yourself first, “What do I want?”

Writing.

In the book “The Artist’s Way”, the author presents the concept of morning pages. That is where you write three pages of anything and everything that comes to your mind the first thing in the morning before you do anything. This clears the mind of nagging thoughts and worries that bounce around in our consciousness throughout the day and act like having too many applications up on your computer. It bogs us down. I often find that the process of simply writing out a problem or question in detail, reveals the answer. Writing is a form of meditation.

Limit Technology.

Speaking of computers, it is best to limit our use of technology. Studies have shown that the mere presence of a turned off smart phone reduces our intelligence including emotional intelligence. Technology provides distraction on what would normally be uninterrupted focus. Here are some recommendations to break the addiction to devices that sell your attention to companies. Turn off your phone at night. Avoid reaching for the phone to check in during the morning. Remove social media applications on your phone which push notifications and track your every move. Turn your screens into greyscale to be less attractive. Log out of accounts each time when you are done. Turn off the computer before you walk away. Tell people to call you instead of text.

Nature.

We came from nature. We derive sustenance from nature. Nature has been shown to relieve stress and provide inspiration even in the darkest times. Walking in nature washes away the haggard dust of civilized life to remind us of our deepest truths. Nature is the epitome of art, freedom and creativity. In nature we are content. Nature charges our batteries of consciousness. Prioritize nature.

The Value Of Creativity and How to Cultivate It.

Reading Time: 12 minutes

The Value Of Creativity

In the age of machines, robots, and computers replacing human tasks with greater efficiency, economy and effectiveness, we are left to ponder with posthumanist angst…

What is left for humans to do? What is the value of humanity?

My answer to that is creative expression. It is debatably the one and only thing that a computer or machine cannot do.

So let’s examine how we can cultivate this incredibly valuable resource.

How To Cultivate Creativity

Creativity comes from a place of acceptance, going with the flow, having an open mind, and being in a state of reception. Consequently, we were in our most creative bliss while in early childhood. It was a time when we didn’t have perceived limitations, self-imposed rules and concrete paradigms. We were open to all potentials…even imaginary friends and fairy tales.

But over the years through well-meaning parents, friends and teachers we heard about how things “should be”. About what we should and shouldn’t do. About what is real and isn’t real. About having “realistic” perception. We even heard jokes about how artists don’t make money till after they die. Or about the over-used phrase of the “starving artist”. All of these things from the collective society programmed us in a way that made us “fit in” better and be a good citizen, but dimmed our light bulb of creativity.

Self-Limiting Belief System – Getting Over Social Programming

  • The people who told us “no” or who brought us down when we were children. Such as parents, teachers, friends.
  • How these sub-conscious scripts affect us our entire lives.
  • Forgiving people. They did the best they can.
  • Self-Love

The first thing to do in order to cultivate creativity is to realize and address self-limiting belief systems. If you believe you are not that creative, you must eliminate that paradigm in order to become creative. If you believe you can’t be extremely successful as a professional creative you must erase this to in order to attain success. Our thoughts create our reality. Even outside of the new-age philosophy of “Law of Attraction”, there is a psychological phenomenon called “confirmation bias” where we look for and remember the things that confirm our beliefs and disregard and forget things which are contrary to our beliefs. Indeed this confirmation bias even happens for negative self-limiting belief systems.


Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is important in identifying our limiting beliefs. Mindfulness can help us observe the thoughts crossing in our mind like clouds in the sky. With this regular introspection, we can label what thoughts are helpful and what are not; in doing so we can begin replacing the negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Some of these positive affirmations can seem elementary such as “I love and accept myself”, but are nonetheless powerful to the sub-conscious. Since we are talking about the sub-conscious, it is important to support these intentional thoughts with emotion because emotion is the language that percolates into the depth of sub-conscious. Feel the happy, bright, light feeling when you are confident in yourself and excited about new potentials.

Much like reprogramming self-limiting belief systems, we must also give ourselves permissions to break rules, be wild, and go with the flow. I have gone to a variety of creative and esoteric workshops where the main gist is to create an environment where people can finally be free to express themselves. Indeed with conscious awareness we do not need other people to give us permission, rather we can give ourselves the freedom. I suggest creating a time and space everyday where you are alone and can express yourself however it feels right. This can include painting, drawing, dancing, singing, and writing among other things.

Writing

Speaking of writing, recording your thoughts through pen and paper is one of the most powerful actions you can do towards cultivating creativity. According to the book “The Artist’s Way”, a wonderful way to start the day is to do something called “Morning Pages”, where you hand write three pages of anything and everything that is on your mind. This is completely unfiltered with no intention of having anyone read what you have written. With morning pages you write without regard to grammar, spelling or composition for that slows down the recording of pure stream of consciousness. Writing down all the stuff that bounces around in our minds does two things; releases them from the mind and allows us to look at them more objectively. By recording your thoughts outside of your mind, you are able to let go of all the chattering superfluous thoughts in the brain which slow down creative reception. The reason why we often think of the same thoughts over and over again is the brain’s attempt at remembering what it deems important…even if it’s as mundane as a song you heard on the radio. Writing gives our minds permission to let go of trying to remember all these things. It also allows us to view our questions and issues outside of ourselves. In other words, writing, which is the the process of externalizing the inner world, allows us to objectively view the problem. Indeed half the problem in solving an issue is simply wording the question correctly. It also makes what might be ephemeral angst into something more concrete. Let me explain further…Have you ever had a day where you just were in a funk? Things just didn’t feel right and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. You hit all the red lights while driving. The checker at the grocery store was slow. The weather wasn’t good. You spilled your coffee and you stubbed your toe. It’s only when you start asking yourself the questions necessary to verbalize what you are feeling when you can identify the root of the problem. This makes what was formerly ephemeral feelings into concrete words which allows us to look at and solve it externally. For the majority of the time, whenever I begin writing about something that is bothering me I do not know the solution, but by the end of several pages I come to the solution because I was able to understand better.

Paralysis Of Perfection vs Loss Of Excellence

Moving on, let’s talk about another dichotomy of balance needed towards cultivating creativity….The balance between striving towards excellence and the paralysis due to perfectionism. I believe our society has become lax in striving for excellence. With twitter and texting our forms of communication has become elementary. People go to grocery stores with pajama pants. Newscasters have become more like reality TV than formal orators of information. And comedy has been reduced to base overt crassness as opposed to interwoven subtle complexity. I believe many of the ills of our modern society is in part a result the lost pursuit of excellence. Having said that, perfectionism can inhibit us from doing anything. This can be seen in the phrase “I will do *blank* when….” or “if only *blank*, then I will…”.

To give more specific examples, we might tell ourselves the following:

  • I will start painting when I have the right brush, canvas, paint, or class.
  • I will start writing once I have the time, experience, or laptop.
  • I will start dancing once I have the right shoes, space, or lessons.

This paralysis of perfectionism also relates to other non-creative areas of life:

  • I will move once I fix this and paint the walls and….
  • I will fix the car once I have the right tools and read enough books and practice and…
  • I will get out of a bad relationship once I have enough reason and paperwork and money and…

Creativity flows best when we do not fear mistakes and accidents. Creativity comes from the exploration of the unknown. Let me give a metaphor for this: imagine a magical forest with mysterious creatures, plants and crystals yet to be discovered. There are no maps or laid out paths. You can be the person who perpetually prepares to make the expedition perfect but never actually accomplishes the dream, or you can be the brave person to just do it and learn as you go. You could also call this improvisation…another synonym for creativity. The most successful and creative people are the ones who foray into the unknown depths of experience and make due with the skills, tools and circumstance they have right now….they do not wait for the weather to be perfect. The most effective creative people invite accidents and rejection as learning experiences to evolve and improve from.

The Power Of Visualization

Visualization is one of the most powerful tools for creative reception. We all know how athletes who visualize their performance prior to the actual event do better than those who don’t. With visualization we are able to improve kinesthetic, social, health and creative performance.

A swimmer can visualize the arm strokes and feeling of enveloping water as they glide through the laps.

A stand-up comedian can visualize telling their stories and how to react to different crowds.

A sick person can visualize themselves healthy to activate the very real healing abilities of the placebo effect.

And finally the creative person can visualize the invention, painting, choreography or phrasing before actual physical manifestation.

Visualization is yet another thing we need to give ourselves permission to allow such “day-dreaming”. Once I prioritized time to visualize without restriction, I found the world within my mind’s eye, including dreams, became more vivid and powerful. As our inner world becomes more vivid, our outer world follows.

I consider visualization a form of meditation because I define meditation as organized thought. Whether we simply observe our thoughts like clouds passing by in the sky or focus on a specific thought-feeling we are meditating.

For greatest clarity, insight and well-being we must maintain our consciousness as we maintain our bodies. Two simple habits to bookend our day is to spend twenty minutes in the morning writing and spend fifteen to twenty minutes visualizing and meditating before bed. Speaking of going to bed, I want to highlight a powerful twilight state of consciousness which is a powerful time for creativity…..

Hypnagogia. Intrinsic Vs Extrinsic Thought.

Hypnagogia is the transitional period between wakefulness and sleep. It’s a powerful time for creative insight.

We actually experience REM like sleep states right before real sleep and can enter a lucid dreaming type state. I have also learned that there is extrinsic and intrinsic thought. Extrinsic thought is all about reason and logic where neurons fire with other neurons that are close by. However intrinsic thought is all about feelings and intuition where neurons fire with distant neurons in the nether regions of the brain. Intrinsic thought is achieved during sleep and the twilight zone between awakeness and sleep. The twilight zone is a blend of theta and alpha brain waves. So next time you can’t sleep at night, try asking yourself questions.

How Sleep Literally Cleans The Brain; Likewise Important For Creativity

Speaking of such, let’s talk about how sleep is yet another important tool to cultivate creativity. Obviously the brain is the organ of creativity, so we know that creative ability is tied to brain performance. Sleep is critical for brain performance because it is the when the brain flushes out toxins. One of the main neuro-toxins flushed out is something called beta-amyloid which forms brain plaque. Indeed dementia and alzheimer’s is linked to sleep problems because of the lessened cleaning time.  

Reducing Technological Distraction

Referencing the article “How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds” in the Wall Street Journal, the average iphone owner interacts with their phone 80 times a day or 30,000 times a year.

Applications, social media and devices sell your attention to advertisers. The more they can get you addicted to “engaging” with their service/product, the more money they make. They employ the same psychological manipulation as casinos; giving small rewards that cause a spike of dopamine thereby getting us addicted. But unlike many addictions, we have convenient and seemingly legitimate arguments as to why we must keep getting the “hit”. We use it for keeping in touch with loved ones, accessing information online, scheduling meetings on our calendar, waking us up in the morning, and communicating with clients among a thousand other uses.

Researchers are showing us that our recent reliance on smartphones is negatively affecting our productivity, intelligence and socialization. One study shows that when people hear their phone ring or vibrate their blood pressure and heart rate increase while problem-solving skills decline as our dilution of focus is further distracted.

The most damning of studies showed the mere presence of a smartphone negatively affects how well we perform on intelligence tests. The proximity of the phone was directly connected with the performance of focus and thinking. They also found that people who have become most dependant on their phones were the ones most negatively affected by the proximity experiment.

Another study found that students who didn’t bring their smartphone to class scored a full letter grade higher than students who did bring their smartphone.

Smartphones are making social interaction broader while less deep. With face-to-face interactions suffering the most. “The mere presence of mobile phones inhibited the development of interpersonal closeness and trust” and diminished “the extent to which individuals felt empathy and understanding from their partners.” The downsides were strongest when “a personally meaningful topic” was being discussed.

Indeed “Imagine combining a mailbox, a newspaper, a TV, a radio, a photo album, a public library and a boisterous party attended by everyone you know, and then compressing them all into a single, small, radiant object” makes for an irresistible substance on par with heroin.

 

Here are some tips to break the technological chains….

Get a landline phone with “Link2Cell”. Link your cellphone to the base station via bluetooth and only have the secondary receiver in your office or main place of occupancy. This allows you to have the critical functionality of the phone while removing the tempting applications and notifications that only distract from the important things in life.

Avoid carrying your smartphone on you. Put it out of visual sight. Referencing the above study, the closer your phone is to you the more the brain drain.

Another great way of maintaining presence in reality is to keep your phone in your car while running errands. Whether we are in-line at the bank, grocery store, or appointments, we so often mindlessly stare at our phones and completely ignore the other human beings around us, thereby missing opportunities for connection, networking and opportunities.

Avoid responding to texts immediately. When you do, the other person will likely respond immediately, then you will have respond immediately and now you are stuck in a clunky conversation loop, once again pulling you away from more important things. By responding 30-60 minutes later, that’s 30-60 minutes of extra focus and an avoidance of a trivial conversation. If someone needs to talk urgently, tell them to call you. Phone calls relay much more information in less time with less chance of miscommunication compared to text.

Avoid unnecessary apps and do regular purges of apps you don’t use. This not only reduces distraction, but also protects your privacy which many apps clandestinely surveil. A prime example, of an unnecessary application is the “Facebook Messenger” app. You can access facebook from the browser which limits push notifications and privacy issues. Whereas with the facebook app, they will constantly remind you of notifications and to absorb your precious focus. While you can’t send messages on your phone without the application….let’s face it…there are few conversations on facebook that need instant response. Get to it when you have access to a desktop. Once again, remind people that if they want a quick response just call. Also email is always preferable to facebook.

Set a technology schedule. Turn off or completely silence your phone a half hour before going to bed. Nothing disrupts our precious circadian rhythms than getting a notification right when you are about to fall asleep. Not to mention the blue light of the screen that tricks the primal body that it is midday. Upon waking in the morning, avoid grabbing for your phone to check email, facebook and other notifications. Use a real alarm clock instead of your phone to avoid tempting dependence. You have just spent hours away from technology in a technology fast; make sure you break that fast with awareness. Starting the day with clarity and focus is aided by a combination of writing three things we are grateful for, going for a walk, reading something inspiring (not the news), or writing down stream of consciousness thoughts.

Avoid reliance on the convenience of the smartphone. There is no doubt that there are some very useful features on our smartphones. Calendar, notes, calculator, flashlight….to name a few. But everytime we access these useful non-inherently-distracting we are are reminded of our distraction inducing social media and “fun” apps which we invariably check in on after using our useful ones. Instead keep a small planner like this one, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DUXP9I6 which fits in your pocket or purse without notice, you can always transfer your appointments to your cloud calendar but this breaks the chain of relyance and distraction. Keep a notebook or piece of folded paper and pen for taking notes. Multiple studies have shown that taking notes longhand makes for better brain retention of information than using a phone or laptop. It’s also faster, will never crash or run out of charge. Great excuse for buying nice pens too!

Make sure you sign out of websites and applications which distract. When we impulsively go to check in and give attention, we encounter an extra step of logging in which can snap us out of habitual reflex and remind us to not give our precious time to this superfluous application. This is very effective as it puts a damper on convenience of distraction.  

As for using technology to reduce distraction, I recommend installing an application called “Rescue Time” on all your devices which will measure how much time you spend doing productive and unproductive things. The statistics can be insightful and provide reminders of just how much time-wasters certain things can be when culminated over months and years.

Taking 5 Minute Break

Sometimes we hit a mental roadblock in our day. Perhaps we lack inspiration or motivation. Perhaps the mind becomes foggy and we are just drawing blanks for answers. The ubiquity of this lack of mojo we encounter in our day can be seen in such phrases as “writer’s block” or the “3 o’clock slump”. Instead muddling through or staring at your work in a trance, take a 5 minute break. Get up and go for a walk. This gets blood flowing and is a change of scene which can be enough to nudge the boulder of momentum over the hump. Or try laying down, closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. This puts the brain in a different brain wave state and can once again nudge that boulder the right way. This 5 minute break can extend up to 15 minutes without becoming an excuse to just avoid work and is justifiable to our go-go-go modern schedules.

Many successful creative companies are realizing the value of this and encourage their creative people to take breaks, play and chill out. These people know that the increase in morale, inspiration and motivation leads to more effective creativity. Would you rather have 2 hours of 100% happy imaginative effective work or 8 hours of 10% dull unimaginative uneffective work?

Having opportunity to play, walk and meditate for small intervals throughout the day enables the ultra-productivity to flourish.   

Morning Pages and The Power Of Writing As An Extension Of Our Brain

Writing is one of the most powerful exercises for gaining clarity, focus, insight and creativity.

This is detailed in the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, where she describes the effective daily habit called “Morning Pages”. Morning Pages is where the first thing you do every morning is hand-write three pages of anything and everything that comes to your mind without regard for spelling, grammar or composition and no fear of anyone else reading it. Some might call this stream of consciousness. This is extremely effective at finding clarity and creativity.

Writing down your inner thoughts and feelings does a couple things…

Release incessant thoughts from the mind by relinquishing the burden of the mind from remembering them. Both good and bad thoughts repeat themselves in our mind in an attempt to make sure we remember whatever it is the sub-conscious mind deems important. By recording these thoughts on paper, our mind can let go since we know it is recorded outside of ourselves. Once the mind releases the cyclic thoughts, new inspiration can take hold.     

Writing is an extension of the brain. It allows me to externally observe challenges, emotions, and thoughts. Once we pull up the nebulous things from our sub-conscious and put them into concrete words of consciousness we can deal with them.
Furthermore, writing is a form of meditation. My mind is singularly focused on the task at hand. I strongly suggest trying “morning pages” and seeing how much more productivity and clarity you find throughout your day.

The Transmissive and Receptive Mind

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

The consciousness can be transposed on a spectrum of transmission and reception; of projecting and receiving energy, wisdom and knowledge. This is comparable to the difference between speaking and listening. When we are speaking we cannot listen. When we listen we cannot speak.

Just like anything else in life, transmission and reception must be balanced for the greatest efficacy.

When a person is predominantly in a state of reception, the person accomplishes little in life and would likely be dependent on others for the three dimensional necessities in life.

When a person is predominantly in a state of transmission, the person accomplishes many things but lacks a depth of understanding, a broader vision, and can end up burned out.

Transmission and Reception balance is somewhat analogous to the production vs production capability balance outlined in the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. This is also referred to as “P / PC Balance”. Productivity is the end result; and production capability is the thing that produces that end result. An example of this is a car… with driving as the production (p) and the car is the production capability (pc). We can drive our car non-stop around the country with no down-time to do preventative maintenance. For a period of time (20-40,000 miles), production is incredibly high since there has been no down time, but soon that lack of maintenance causes your production capability to have major break downs. Now the engine requires a complete tear down resulting in major expense and loss of time. This could have been avoided by caring for the production capability as much as the production. Production is about short term yield whereas production capability is about long term sustainability. This relates to many areas of our lives. We can over-work our bodies and neglect our health resulting in burn out after an initial increase in productivity. In relationships, we can take more than we give, resulting in a fizzling relationship. Managers can whip their employees into shape for short term quarterly increase in sales but resulting in higher turnover rate and low morale. Life is about balance.

As a workaholic, where in the face of obstacles or stress I work harder, I know this lack of balance all too well. In 2014, I had two of the largest sculpture projects in my life with a tight deadline of completion. I did heavy fabrication work of which there was no precedent from 8am in the morning till 9pm at night every day including weekends and holidays. I had to push myself with caffeine to pull every last drop of productivity out of my body and mind. While the sculptures where successful, I was left depleted. I even had to go a naturopathic doctor because had lost my mojo. It took me over a year and many supplements to rebuild what I had lost. This lack of balance is not worth the short term gain because ultimately long term sustainability will wane.

Back on the transmissive and receptive state of consciousness….It is the transmissive state when I produce. It is when I take action. It when I affect the external world. It is when I speak. It is when I project energy. It is when I give. These are all critically important things to do for a successful and well-adjusted life. But even good things can become out of balance.

If we put any polar opposites on a gradient spectrum, we can achieve balance in two ways. We can have a strong positive and a strong negative. Both are equally powerful and together they combine for maximum potency. There is weight at both ends of the scale. Conversely we can put the weight right in the middle this scale for complete neutrality. This centerline neutrality lacks potency… it is listless.
When we can harmoniously combine the qualities of two disparate things we can exponentially increase the potency greater than the sum. We can name these two forms of balance as “Polar Balance” and “Neutral Balance”.

These two different ways to approach balance can be applied to transmissive and receptive mental states. I tend to put heavy weight on the transmissive side of the scale. If I were to utilize Neutral Balance, I would remove weight from transmission. If I were to utilize Polar Balance, I would add weight to the reception. When I add high levels of receptive wisdom to already high levels of transmissive action, it potentiates greater results.

How do we add to the receptive end of this balance?

It is taking time to sit and be. To meditate. To be present. To close your eyes.

Thoughts still exist in this receptive state, but they are different. Thoughts come from a deeper space in receptive state. It is wisdom. It is intuition. It is answers.

The epitome of being in a state of reception is a tree. The tree exists. The tree breaths. The tree listens to wind in it’s canopy. A tree watches. A tree is still. A tree is strong with roots deep into the earth, synonymous with tapping into the collective unconscious. Sometimes, I envision myself being a tree to aid the receptive state. It is a powerful visualization.

Creativity comes from a receptive state. Creativity cannot be forced or willed into existence. It must be gently allowed to manifest in waves like a mushrooms sprouting up on a rainy day.

We can begin meditation with questions then allow the answers though silence and presence of mind. Another excellent visualization is to imagine particles of energy being attracted towards our body and absorbed. Let me give an example of how powerful this is: During an eye gazing exercise where I looked into my partner’s eyes and she looked into mine for an extended time, I attempted a receptive focus (also referred to as yin focus) by visualizing my eyes actually receiving energy. While doing this I had glimpses of perfect vision which what are normally profoundly farsighted eyes. I have learned that the eyes are not merely passive observers but also powerful transmitters like a laser. I have learned that my eyes are a form of bio-feedback where I can understand my state of transmission vs reception by noting how well I see.

Prioritizing the practice of entering the receptive state though meditation and presence aids physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual well-being.

The Value Of Creativity

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

In the age of machines, robots and computers taking over almost every aspect of human life, we are finding that creativity is the real human value that has no substitute.

I am deeply grateful that I have been given the freedom and support in cultivating creativity in my life; not only in sculpture but other diverse modalities.

I believe holistic expression creates excellence in all endeavors. Whether science, medicine, art, or socialization, having a broad and diverse mental library of experience enables us to see novel connections formerly unnoticed. It allows us to relate seemingly disparate subjects. I try to express myself in a multitude of ways…visual art, music, dance, cooking, poetry, videography, etc. Oftentimes creative ideas for sculpture will come to me while doing poetry; or perhaps I think of a musical concept while dancing.

Creativity can be an elusive and ephemeral creature. It is not something that can be forced and tends to come in waves. I try to capture these glimpses of creative insight when they happen, otherwise they evaporate from my memory like a dream. I have found the twilight zone between waking consciousness and sleep is a powerful state of mind that can yield tremendous creativity. This transitional state is called “Hypnagogia”. Our brain actually has both alpha and theta waves during this state. Furthermore, the normal waking constraints/rules/boundaries that our pre-frontal cortex governs lessens allowing our mind to break the usual paradigms….a reason why our dreams can be so wild at times. Consequently I keep pen and paper near my bed to record these fleeting “downloads” of creativity.

Art, in it’s many forms, is effectively our spiritual progeny. Art is an expression of our being, an extension of who we are. Our creative manifestations will outlive us and have a tangible effect in the future. Everything I create is my progeny. The will to create comes from the same energy as the will to procreate. The difference is I transmute that foundational energy into other outlets such as visual art and music.

You ask what it is like to having two artists as parents and how we all interact in the creation of our artwork. Let me first say that art by committee is fraught with difficulties. However, when the right minds come together, the synergy can create outstanding results. I strongly believe in the philosophy behind the phrase “Two Brains Are Better Than One” and this is evident in my creative interaction with my parents. My parents have been critical mentors in my creative career. Giving design and composition advice that take the art to the next level. Providing ideas that just click and take off. We are powerful brainstormers. Once again, this is part of the holistic approach I mentioned earlier. By having three people look at the same thing there will invariably be different perspectives…sometimes vastly contrasting…but by combining the best elements of these different perspectives you end up with an end result that is often superior than the original single perspective. I must say that while we deeply consider one another’s opinion we must still stay authentic to what feels right in our individual art projects. In hearing critiques, some elements are helpful and constructive whereas others don’t feel right to what I had envisioned. Regardless, my creative manifestations are better as a result of the synergy that I have with my parents.

Over the course of doing many art festivals and art shows, I have heard many comments from people. The most consistent thing people say about my art is that they have never seen anything like. That it is completely new and novel. This makes me extraordinary happy because I seek to be different. While there is no doubt I derive inspiration from many sources, I want my creative manifestations to be different than what anyone has ever experienced. That is part of the appeal of creating art….to alter people’s normal experience of reality, to give people a reason to slow down from the linear path of normalcy and routine.

My art is diverse. When factoring all of my visual art, it ranges from flat paintings to large public sculptures; from colorful whimsical to patinaed contemporary; from perfectly finished to rough industrial. Exploration is essential for holistic inspiration. My current body of work rejects the concepts of perfection in favor of wabi sabi aesthetics. In other words, finding beauty in the imperfection and the incomplete. I try to leave fabrication marks, partially ground welds, oil-stick marks, and natural patina. By leaving these elements, the viewer can see the actual process of creation in the finished piece.

Creative Entrepreneurialism

Reading Time: 7 minutes

What Does “Entrepreneurial Spirit” Mean?

To me an “entrepreneurial spirit” means embodying a deep seated desire for freedom and self-actualization. It stems from the philosophy of freewill; our ability to create our destiny. Many would think that being an entrepreneur means “not having a boss”, but this is a false belief. Rather we entrepreneurs have many bosses in the form of clients.

“Entrepreneurial spirit” is generally associated with making money where you create your own work as opposed to having someone give you work. Whether we like it or not, we live in a society where money is power, money is freedom, money is a virtual life blood. The entrepreneur understands this at least on a sub-conscious level. The entrepreneur accepts a certain amount of risk with creating his/her own business. The risk is there is no guarantee for making money, that all your time and investment could potentially yield little to nothing. But the reward for taking this risk is having no limit to your success. There is no ceiling to how much one can earn when you are an entrepreneur.

There are many “hats” when running a business. The technician; the person who actually builds the product or yields the service. The manager; the person who manages the details of the back end of business such as finance books and taxes. And the entrepreneur; the person with the overall broad vision to propel the organization forward. To speak metaphorically, the entrepreneur is the one on top of the hill looking out beyond the immediate vicinity to see new opportunities on the horizon.

The Development Of Entrepreneurialism

At the age of 14-15, I had a job as a dishwasher at a jazz and wine club. While I made good money, I had a growing desire to quit over the course of 14 days…until I got the check. I got locked into the a vicious cycle where I felt obligated to stay in a job I did not like…A situation that many people find themselves. I learned that I must be an entrepreneur in my life so that I have freedom.

Incorporating entrepreneurship in my career is critical in making it an actual career and not a hobby. Indeed artists are often the best “technicians”; that is, they create massive inventory of product often totally engrossed in the creative process. The reason why the phrase “starving artist” exists is because many artists fail to utilize the important aspects of business. When I was younger, I despised doing finance books, but now I embrace it as a relaxing exercise to know what is going on in my business. The actual creative process is only a fraction what goes in to be a successful artist.

Some entrepreneur elements include networking, public speaking, seeking new opportunities, forecasting the “weather” of culture, marketing, money management, time management, etc.

It takes both sides of the brain to be successful… or having other people involved with the business that balance where you lack. Indeed successful people like Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie actually didn’t know how to build an engine or the mechanical properties of steel, but they surrounded themselves with knowledgeable people who did. They created win-win relationships with these people by giving them work while mutually reaping the rewards of their knowledge.

Time is the most valuable resource we have and the entrepreneur must learn how to potentiate the productivity out of every minute. I created a sign above my desk to remind myself to “Automate and Delegate”. I value being in control and like many business-people, I believe I can do things better and faster than others; alas this is an Achilles heel of workaholics. Let me explain….

There are a lot of tasks we do in business every day. Accounting, sales, errands, networking, delivery, and fabrication. Let’s assume that I ought to make at least $50 an hour doing the most effective thing…standing on the hill looking for new opportunities to seize upon. Anything that takes me away from the most effective thing, is actually costing me money. For example, if I can hire a person to do delivery for $20 thereby allowing me to focus on the most productive activity, I am actually making $30 more an hour by delegating.

Likewise for automation. I can plasma cut metal parts by hand for negligible direct cost. Or I can get a loan for a CNC plasma cutter for $200 a month. While this is more expense every month, it allows me the freedom to do what I am best at. Even if I only use the machine 8 hours a month, which would be $25 an hour, this frees up my time to pursue $50 an hour tasks; effectively doubling my money. The concept of automation and delegation is a key characteristic of entrepreneurship.

The Risk Of Being A Creative Entrepreneur.

There are multiple risks associated with being an entrepreneur…especially the creative kind. Since my income is project based, this means I have to have a constant supply of projects in order to have a constant supply of income. Say I have a project which yields a net income of $10,000. The problem I have is not knowing when the next project will come. The question I must ask myself is “How long must I make this money last?” “Will this need to last a month or will it need to last nine months?” Consequently, it is hard to budget or ever take a break.

Obviously the solution to this is to take on more projects which can easily overwhelm my capacity. And overwhelmed capacity means delays which means unhappy clients. I need to take my own advice of automate and delegate to expand my capacity. As previously mentioned, automation often means incurring debt which is obvious risk. I haven’t talked about employees yet. Having employees has the potential to exponentially increase productivity. This requires the investment of time to train the employees. Increased paperwork. And increased injury liability. Employees can quit at any time which means a lost of invested time training. Employees can get hurt which can pose serious cost. Employees can even catch the entrepreneurial spirit and take your formula to create competition. These are risks one must weigh when hiring employees, but the rewards can be great.

Another risk of being an entrepreneur I have realized, is the problem of never “turning off”. When you are an entrepreneur, it is completely up to you whether you will sink or swim (or fly). If you don’t put in the time and effort, you will sink. If you don’t invest yourself, you will sink. There is no person telling you to work from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. Likewise, there is no person telling you to go home. Because of the great personal responsibility to my success, I have found I never turn off the business mind. I am always thinking and doing in relation to my businesses. From the minute I wake up to the minute I go to bed, everyday including weekends…I am business. This can be toxic and cause fatigue. Let me reference “Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People”… Where Dale Carnegie talks about production vs production capability. Let’s think about a machine which produces widgets. You can force the machine to produce widgets 24/7 with no down time and for a period of time you will have increased productivity. But eventually the machine will break down because of lack of maintenance. Productivity will suffer and repair costs will be steep. When amortized this way, we see that productivity, productivity, productivity all the time actually becomes inefficient. I have experienced this in 2014, where I had the two largest projects yet of my life to complete. I did heavy work from 8am in the morning to 9pm at night every day in freezing temperatures and in 120 degree heat over an entire year. I drove myself with energy drinks. I ended up burning my adrenals where I had to go to a doctor to learn why I lost my mojo. It took me a year of down time to recover.

Production capability means maintaining the machine. It means “sharpening the saw”. Production capability is absolutely critical for maximum long term productivity. This is why many tech companies like Google and Amazon have their workers take frequent breaks and have “fun-time”. It is in the down-time where creative insight sparks and morale is regained.

How Entrepreneurship Has Shaped Who I Am.

Being International Baccalaureate program during high school, educators tried to program me and say that the only way to be successful was to go to college. But I believe that an equal investment of time and money into a business can yield better results. Because I dove into entrepreneurship early, I have been able to rack up over 10,000 hours of experience. This is what Malcolm Gladwell says is required to become an expert in any given field. My “professors” are my colleagues. My “tests” are my projects. My “textbook” is my life. Both the depth and breadth of experience has allowed me to see patterns and make relationships in my mind thereby creating greater success and richness of life.

I have learned work ethic. I have learned that my success is solely my responsibility.

In our culture and politics we always hear about the need for “jobs”. I believe this stems from a victim mentality where people think their success is solely dependent on external influences; the government, the corporations. What if we changed the dialogue from creating hourly jobs to creating entrepreneurship? I believe we would live in a more sustainable economy if we shifted such national focus.

Back on the personal level, my experience as an entrepreneur gives me the confidence that I can sustain myself regardless of the economy or politics. I have the power to create the life I want. Entrepreneurs have resilience unlike any other.

Advice For The Aspiring Entrepreneur.

The first bit of advice is that grit and perseverance is the number one determiner of success. It’s not financial background, class, beauty, or even intelligence….it’s grit. Please listen to the following ted talk on Grit: https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance

On a related subject, the most important key to wilderness survival is the “will to survive”. This is the number one most foundational characteristic of the person who survives as opposed to the person who perishes.

Moving beyond developing a heart of perseverance, other advice would be:

  1. Be a voracious reader of business, your industry, and of all other subjects. Reading expands the mind and opens new avenues of thought. Some suggestions would be “Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” and “How To Win Friends and Influence People”.
  2. Learn how to communicate effectively both orally and written. Grammatical errors can be used to discredit everything a person says in the minds of the critical audience. Body language speaks more than even tone and words alone; therefore it is important to understand what body language says.
  3. Embrace your extroverted side and network like a honey badger. Talk with people of the same industry. Talk with clients. Talk with people in the grocery store line. Talk with everyone. Learn from everyone who crosses your path; everyone is your teacher. Subscribe to the philosophy behind the quote “We have two ears and one mouth; use them proportionally”.
  4. Let go of self-limiting beliefs. People are told by family, teachers, or friends that they are good at some things and not other things. We tend to believe this at a deep level and often never break loose of these chains. Believe you ARE good at what you were told you weren’t. Develop an obstinate contrary will to prove the nay-sayers wrong. Some people told me that I couldn’t build a 40′ diameter 16,000# arch sculpture in my driveway; this criticism fueled a fire within me to prove them wrong.
  5. Strive for balance. Balance of the left brain with right brain. Balance of production and production capability. Balance of the masculine and feminine. Balance of being present yet planning for the future and learning from the past. Balance accounts. Balance introversion with extroversion.
  6. Seek excellence in everything you do. Strive to be excellent in your speech. Your personal presentation. Your hand-writing. Your comprehension of what you read. Your driving. Your product or service. And if you make a mistake, be grateful for the opportunity to learn and be better moving forward. Excellence takes effort and time, but it’s increasing rarity makes it’s value all that much more important.

Why We Get Creative Insight Right Before Sleeping

Reading Time: 1 minute

 

Lately I have been getting incredible creative inspiration right before falling asleep. The visualizations, words, and ideas are so powerful that I am forced to turn on the light and write them down in the notebook near my bed. While some people would be perturbed by the inability to fall asleep because of all these thoughts, I try to catch the creative inspiration while I can. Even though I am a professional creative, it is extremely difficult to “turn on” the creativity. Inspiration seems to come in spurts and waves. I have learned that I must record these thoughts during those times otherwise I forget and loose the inspiration.

In pondering and researching this phenomenon of increased creativity right before sleep, I have found that we actually experience REM like sleep states right before real sleep. Essentially I am experiencing a form of lucid dreaming. I have also learned that there is extrinsic and intrinsic thought. Extrinsic thought is all about reason and logic where neurons fire with other neurons that are close by. However intrinsic thought is all about feelings and intuition where neurons fire with distant neurons in the nether regions of the brain. Intrinsic thought is achieved during sleep and the twilight zone between awakeness and sleep. The twilight zone is a blend of theta and alpha brain waves.

Hypnagogia.

Waves Of Positivity By Expressing The Beauty We See

Reading Time: 1 minute

 

I believe in giving people authentic genuine compliments/validation. I believe in listening to people and encouraging people to talk about emotions. I am a very curious person and love to hear people’s stories.

Over the years, I have found that compliments I have personally received have been like fuel to a fire of motivation and personal expansion. I want to give others that fuel. I want to inspire others to be confident, to be happy, to be passionate, to be uplifted, to be optimistic, to live life to it’s fullest. I try to see the best in everyone and I want to mirror back the positives. As happiness increases, waves of positivity spread.

I think about funerals and how people from far and wide come together and say all the reasons they loved that person. Incidentally, I think it is a shame that the passed person could not hear their praise. That they could not hear the positive thoughts other’s had internally but never expressed.

One of the things that gives me great joy is when people can raise their confidence, their self-respect, their aspirations, their optimism. For people be true to themselves.

Of course there are many false compliments (aka flattery) that veil ulterior motives and that is unfortunate. But I believe sincere and authentic compliments can be distinguished with awareness.

I only give compliments with honesty, authenticity, and integrity.

Here is a great video I found many years ago that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face…