New Mantra: “Pursue Excellence. Ignore Success.”

The Atlas Slave was an unfinished work by Michaelangelo.

I’ve been a fan of Deepak Chopra ever since I read his book, The spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence, which is all about synchronicity.
Earlier this year, I came across a great article, “Deepak Chopra: A Life of Fullfillment,” where Chopra talks all about success.  Given that he’s both a spiritual leader and a highly successful individual, I was excited to hear what he had to say on the subject.  As expected, he had many wise words.
 –
To start, here is some sage advice:
 –
“If you focus on success, you’ll have stress. But if you pursue excellence, success will be guaranteed.”  –Deepak Chopra
 –
To go along with that he  says, “Try hard and you will succeed.
 Try too hard and you will fail.”
 –
I think this is especially important for artists to remember, although anyone who is a perfectionist at heart or an over-achiever can benefit from these words.  Sometimes when we want something, we try so hard to get it that we end up not getting it.  It’s important to remember to relax, enjoy life, and take your time.  In other words, don’t take life too seriously!  😉  That doesn’t mean avoiding hard work or showing up every day for the task.  Rather it means, be kind to yourself if you have a down day or don’t complete as much as you hoped.
 
Chopra says, “Being locked up in your own mindset means being locked out of the world around you,” and as artists, that’s the last thing we want.
 –
If pursuing excellence sounds a little too much like pursuing perfection, you can look at it a different way and pursue fulfillment.
 
Here are some other strategies.
  • Create something of value that wasn’t there before.
  • Focus on:  “Creativity, imagination, insight, intuition, conscious choice-making, love, compassion, understanding…” rather than instant gratification.
  • Adopt a growth mindset and see opportunities rather than adversity.
  • Engage the “unfriendlies” and dissect their point of view until you find the inherent value.
  • Remember that true creativity requires an open mind and curiosity.
 “I define success as the following,” Chopra says. “No. 1, the progressive realization of worthy goals. No. 2, the ability to love and have compassion. No. 3, to be in touch with the creative source inside you. And No. 4, to ultimately move from success to significance.”

Notebooks of the Mind

I came across an interesting concept while reading an article in the SCBWI Bulletin called “Jotting Things Down” by Anne Sibley O’Brien.  She referenced a term called “Notebooks of the Mind,” which I just thought sounded so cool!  And mysterious.  But what does it mean?  Did you ever keep a journal or diary growing up?  Or what about when you had that great thought or idea while standing in line at the grocery store or sitting at a restaurant and you had to scribble it down on a napkin so you didn’t forget it.  All of these scribbles and sketches cumulate into “Notebooks of the Mind” or windows into our soul.  A lot of it seems meaningless at the time, and truthfully, much of it may never amount to anything tangible.  But it’s fodder.  Fuel for that project you’re envisioning or maybe something else yet to be discovered.  And when you go back to it, it’s like walking through a museum of memories, which is also fun.

If you’re not convinced of the importance of jotting things down, remember this:  “Creativity did not descend like a bolt of lightning that lit up the world in a single brilliant flash.  It came in tiny steps, bits of insight, and incremental changes.  Zigs and zags.  When people followed those zigs and zags, ideas and revelations started flowing.”  -Keith Sawyer, author of Zig Zag

Benjamin Franklin didn’t just get hit by lightning.  He kept notebooks, too.

I have my own journals at home.  20 or so of them, actually, collected over the years–consisting of poem fragments, stray thoughts, jumbled up text, old ticket stubs, magazine collages, scratches, and sketches.  Some of it will never see the light of day, but it’s useful nonetheless.  My small treasures.  The Notebooks of MY Mind.

What’s going on in my brain?  Here’s a sneak peek, circa 2003.

notebook of my mind

Now, I want to know, what’s going on in yours?

 

Get a Grip on Your Mind

I recently read an article called “Getting Bold” in the January/February 2014 issue of the SCBWI Bulletin.  Item number 6 suggests reading the books by Eric Maisel, a well-known creativity coach.  I’m always up for new insights, and with the deep freeze and the new year, it seemed like a good time to check out something new.  Boy am I glad I did!

Maisel uses cognitive therapy techniques to address many of the common issues facing creative people.  He mainly deals with the mind traps we set ourselves, sometimes without even knowing it.  Don’t be surprised if after reading his books, you’re racing to your studio or computer to get working.  But even if it takes some time, baby steps are the key.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:

“My own mind is my own church.”  –Thomas Paine

I love this one.  No better place to get spiritual than inside yourself.

“Being and thought are one.”  –Jean Dubuffet

Basically, we can manifest our own reality.  It’s that simple.

One of the most important tools is learning how to STOP to START.  Hush your mind.  This will serve you in many ways.

*If you find yourself caught replaying the events of the day, try wearing a rubber band and snapping yourself with it.  This should wake you up and get you back to work or at least out of your head.

Bottom line: If you want to be exceptional, don’t think so much.  Just do the work.  Everything else will follow.

The Power of Dreaming

Make Your Creative Dreams Real
by SARK

Greetings dreamers!

I found this book serendipitously at the library.  It seemed to be calling out to me 😉  I would venture to say it is calling out to all of you as well.  Anyone who is a dreamer.  And we all are…or at least we should be.  And here is why:

SARK‘s book suggests that the world needs more people dreaming and living out their dreams, even partially.  It doesn’t have to be for money.  It doesn’t have to be big. And your dreams are free to change and adapt constantly!  But we need to dream because dreaming creates more energy, which directly benefits th world around us.

“We are all energized by creative dreams.”  –SARK

So where will you begin?