If you've been following the events of the past couple of weeks, you, like me, may now have a constant, low-level dread pervading your every waking moment. The world as we know seems to be slowly but surely unraveling. I've sought comfort in trying to understand the reasons why these things have come to pass, but an appeal to reason isn't enough to assuage this kind of pervasive, insidious anxiety. To deal with it, I think, calls for a cultivating a new mental skill set, and, lucky for us, someone from 2000 years ago had already figured it out: Lucius Annaeus Seneca, otherwise simply known as Seneca --- a Roman Stoic philosopher who is oft-quoted and recommended by Tim Ferriss.
With all the nightmare scenarios forming and endlessly replaying in our minds, Seneca's exhortation to Lucilius could not be more timely (emphasis mine):
"There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality....
What I advise you to do is, not to be unhappy before the crisis comes; since it may be that the dangers before which you paled as if they were threatening you, will never come upon you; they certainly have not yet come. Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all. We in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow.
It is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact. How often has he unexpected happened! How often has the expected never come to pass! And even though it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering? You will suffer soon enough, when it arrives; so look forward meanwhile to better things....
Men have been let down softly by a catastrophe. Sometimes the sword has been checked even at the victim's throat. Men have survived their own executioners. Even bad fortune is fickle. Perhaps it will come, perhaps not; in the meantime it is not. So look forward to better things....
There is nothing so certain among these objects of fear that it is not more certain still that things we dread sink into nothing and that things we hope for mock us.
Accordingly, weigh carefully your hopes as well as your fears, and whenever all the elements are in doubt, decide in your own favour; believe what you prefer. And if fear wins a majority of the votes, incline in the other direction anyhow, and cease to harass your soul.... We let ourselves drift with every breeze; we are frightened at uncertainties, just as if they were certain. We observe no moderation. The slightest thing turns the scales and throws us forthwith into a panic."
Excerpted from Letter 13: On groundless fears, from Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium by Lucius Annaeus Seneca.
Adobe MAX 2016 is over and I'm eager to finally share the experience! It was a huge thrill being amongst leaders in the field, hearing from the people who actually developed the software I use everyday, and learning tips and tricks from the top Adobe educators in the world. There's a mountain of stuff to write about, but I'll start with the highlight and half the reason I went to the conference: the session with one of my biggest heroes, adventure photographer Chris Burkard, entitled "Achieving Career and Personal Growth by Working in Extreme Locations."
While the session did cover exactly what the title said, it was so much more than that, touching on many areas - from motivation to shoot, to how to compose a timeless photo, even to social media best practices - that were highly relevant to me. I'm breaking it down into ten lessons to make it easy to digest.
Here are 10 thing I learned from listening to - and meeting! - Chris Burkard:Read More
For today, I'm sharing a great interview with one of my big heroes on the Internet, Chase Jarvis, via the Sara Dietschy's YouTube channel. They get into a lot of relevant and practical wisdom on how to make it as a creative, and the bit near the end about "overnight success" is fantastic. Here's what Chase says:
"Overnight success is a total myth. Even the people who you think it happened, I'll take Macklemore, who's also our friend, he was making music in his parent's basement for ten years before you'd ever heard of him. And I think people, like, 'Oh my God, overnight success! This guy has, you know, 15x platinum!' But what you really find out if you look even just one inch below the surface is that there is this, they always say the struggle is real... But 100% of the people have had that experience where they toiled what seemed like an eternity where there was ten viewers... Brandon [Stanton, of Human of New York] today talked about.... his first post... it had... no likes and one comment. And you know, now, I think his has the highest average number of comments and the highest number of views on Facebook everyday.
The gap between where you think you are and where you want to be is always closer than you think... People can talk about tipping points, there was no one event ever, and any time people got some event... where you think you've made it, they were quickly fed a piece of humble pie, and realized that it's a series of making-its over and over and over that actually makes it possible to do what you love."
A timely reminder at the start of another work week: you never know which one of your hits is gonna be a home run, so don't let the yawning uncertainty of The Gap defeat you. Make sure to watch the rest of the interview as it's full of useful bits of wisdom and inspiration. Have a great week everyone!
Jimmy Chin is one of my all-time heroes: a rare combination of a world-class photographer, filmmaker, and elite climber, and just an incredible all-around good guy. Last week, inspired by The North Face's 50th anniversary campaign (see video above), he shared his story on Facebook, one that will deeply resonate with anyone consumed with pursuing an unconventional path despite its challenges and not having the people closest to you understand or support you.
"The second I finished college I headed out west and moved into the back of my car. Climbing and skiing were the only things that gave meaning to me. Nothing else mattered. My parents were devastated that I basically fell off the map and wasn’t pursuing a career. I stopped speaking to them for almost two years because it hurt too much to hear the disappointment in their voices. Other friends from college had gone on to law school, working in finance, or starting companies. I was living in a dank dripping cave behind Camp IV in Yosemite and intercepting half eaten pizzas at Curry Village before tourists could throw them out in the garbage. Not exactly glamorous. Early on, I struggled everyday with the choice I was making. I was filled with doubt, guilt and the burden of letting my parents down. The only thing that kept me going was the joy of climbing, the inspiration of being in the mountains, being with my new found tribe. I sought out the wild ones. The passion for this non-conventional life didn’t diminish, it grew wildly. I only wanted to attempt the absurd. The harder I had to try, the further I had to go, the more intense the expedition, the better. Gradually it became clear, this was not a short-lived rebellion, but a life long pursuit of going all out.
Along with climbing and skiing, photography and filming, became my vehicles to see the world and work with some of the most incredible athletes and creatives in the world. When I didn’t think life could get any more insane, it only accelerated with more work, more opportunities. It’s a completely chaotic lifestyle, but these days, I am still thankful every single day that I stuck it out and committed to taking the leap off the train of convention. I can’t imagine living any life that wasn’t perceived as mad….."
Read the entire Facebook post here. As I've already written about before, although pursuing what you're passionate about may be rife with uncertainty, it's precisely that determination to live a unique life that opens the door for you to succeed in a unique way, as Jimmy has a photographer-filmmaker-athlete. So don't apologize for wanting something crazy. The world needs more people who are willing to "leap off the train of convention" and be unapologetically, passionately mad.
"There's no mystery to turning pro. It's a decision brought about by an act of will. We make up our minds to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that." - Steven Pressfield
For this week's Monday Motivation, I share a passage from Steven Pressfield's essential book for creatives and artists, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.
"The moment an artist turns pro is as epochal as the birth of his first child. With one stroke, everything changes. I can state absolutely that the term of my life can be divided into two parts: before turning pro, and after."Read More
For this week's Monday Motivation, I'm weighing in on one of the hottest topics online these days: Should you quit your day job to "do you what you love?" I don't think there's one answer for everyone in every situation. My take on it is that, it's a privilege afforded to those who can absorb the financial sacrifice involved and cope with the stress of the uncertainty that comes with it, but it's one you should absolutely avail of if you have something more meaningful to contribute to the world.
Now, assuming you can afford to make the leap to quit your day job and what you do has the potential to create value for others... Should you do it already? I can't tell you definitively, but I can tell you a story.Read More
"An artist is always alone - if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness." - Henry Miller
If talking about loneliness sounds a little unusual for Monday Motivation, well, hear me out. I've talked about my thoughts on the value of solitude before. Now that I've spent most of 2016 essentially being an independent maker of things, I've realized something further: If you want to make good art , and if you want to be prolific --- you have to regularly practice freeing yourself from the constant pull of other people for significant chunks of time.
If you're a working artist in some way, you already know that pursuing an unconventional path outside of the normal 9-to-5 already isolates you from most people you know just as a matter of course. I'm not saying it makes you better than anyone, either. I'm saying, if you're on the proverbial road less traveled, there are, obviously, fewer fellow travelers along the way to prevent you from driving yourself crazy.Read More
For this week's Monday Motivation, I'm posting a transcript from my #1 favorite podcast/thing on the web, the always-inspiring Tim Ferriss Show. Every week Tim interviews a world-class performer from a different field and recently he posted a return episode with Jocko Wilink. If you're not familiar with Jocko Willink, Tim's description should do the job:
Jocko is a lean 230 pounds. He is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert who used to tap out 20 Navy SEALs per workout. He is a legend in the Special Operations world. His eyes look through you more than at you.
Jocko spent 20 years in the US Navy and commanded SEAL Team 3’s task unit Bruiser, the most highly decorated special operations unit in the Iraq War.Read More
Note: I consume a lot of articles and podcasts for artists and entrepreneurs, and I mostly share them on my private, personal Facebook page. However I realize that there are those of you out there who could find these helpful too, and so I'm placing them on my blog as well so they can be more widely available. Hope you enjoy the first installment of Monday Motivation!
I recently re-read this excerpt from Getting There: A Book of Mentors written by Matthew Weiner, creator of the critically acclaimed TV series "Mad Men." It struck a deep chord in me, given the choice I've made to give up commercial work to focus on being an artist. Whether it's working at a job you hate to pay the bills, or having to tighten your belt indefinitely while bootstrapping your creative business, not to mention constant uncertainty and the self-doubt it tends to breed, deciding to get on the road to becoming a full-time artist entails major sacrifices. I know that it can sometimes feel overwhelming, which is why Weiner's story is so compelling because, as he describes it, he found himself in a hole that to anyone can seem impossible to climb out of:
So for those of you who feel like it's never going to work, or are struggling to keep afloat long enough to get a breakthrough, I hope you take heart in Weiner's example. As Weiner concludes: "I do believe that if you are truly talented, get your material out there, put up with the rejection, and don’t set a time limit for yourself, someone will notice you."
How do you find the strength to persist? If you ask me, if you genuinely feel that you are born to do this, you don't actually have a choice. You persist until you get noticed. If you don't, you continue anyway. Because it was never about the money or the recognition, was it?
Have a great week everyone!