past participle of stick.
They say that if you ever fall into quicksand that the worst thing you can do is struggle. In fact the way to survive a situation like this is to relax. Are you kidding? The last thing I want to do when I get stuck in a life threatening situation that is trying to take control of me is relax.
How can what seems like inactivity and an ineffective decision be the solution to such a significant problem?
I spent some time earlier this week with a new fresh blank white piece of paper. This event usually fills me with great joy and anticipation. For me it is the creative playground that I love, where anything is possible and excitement can build around the future possibilities that may come from this process.
But this time I spent an hour writing what was going on in my head. Instead of amazing, exciting new ideas the page slowly filled with a list of my current realities and challenges. My unresolved questions, opportunities that seem not to solve any of my current problems and an overwhelming feeling of being STUCK. My quicksand was become visible.
I have been in this situation for a while now and if I'm honest I have been frantically trying to FIX it. I have been resisting and struggling. Running and jumping from possibility to possibility trying to find a solution to the question 'what I am supposed to be investing my time and energy into moving forward'. It is the reason that the Flea Factory Podcast is focused on this Quest. A quest to find answers and fix my current situation. A quest to get out of my perceived quicksand.
But if I am to learn from survivalists, when faced with a threatening situation such as quicksand (the ultimate stuck feeling) we are told to relax. At the beginning of 2019 I took on a word that would set a theme for my year. The word this year was YIELD. I will be honest I was not thrilled to have this word. I usually prefer words like lead, purpose or focus. So of course I have spent most of this year doing everything I can to fight against the concept of yielding. Instead of relaxing, surveying my situation and potentially seeing clearly my next step out of danger. I have tumbled and struggled and cursed my way through the year and step by step found myself sinking further and further into the quicksand.
I then find myself boldly claiming to everyone around me 'I'm stuck, I told you I was stuck, there is no way out of this stuck situation'. While I'm sure people watch from the outside wondering why the heck I am running around in circles shouting and screaming. I wonder if bystanders see my struggle and clearly assess that the reason I am still stuck is because of my reaction to the initial problem rather than the problem itself.
You know that moment when you try and take a jumper off and somehow you lose track of your best way out and find you have your arm in the head hole and vice versa and you start exhausting yourself trying to get out of a stupid piece of clothing but you just can't seem to find the solution and you now start feeling like you will never ever be able to get out? (breathe.......) That is the feeling! That is how my last few years have felt. A frantic struggle with an invisible force.
So today I am challenged again that maybe the way forward is to yield. To stop frantically trying to fix every problem. To take a step back. To start from a place of gratitude and peace. To look at my responsibilities and opportunities with a fresh set of eyes. Firstly and maybe most importantly because as I continue to struggle, all I do is sink further and further into the sand that is trying to consume me.
I can control how I react to these situations, I can stay present in the moment and survey my best options. Maybe someone is waiting to give me a hand out of the quicksand? Maybe it's not actually quicksand I just believe it is? Maybe the hole is only shallow and actually I can stand and slowly walk out of my current situation.
I will only ever find that out if I choose to Yield, gain perspective and refuse to sink further into the sand.
I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day. He is an executive in a large organisation, with a good job that he is extremely competent at and valued in. I mentioned that during a recent trip to the Sunshine Coast, QLD Australia, I nearly sent him a photo of a guy selling coffee out the back of his Kombi van @ Mooloolaba Beach. I shared this as I know deep down that this is his dream. To escape the world he currently works in, staring at a computer screen for hours on end.
The dream of going to work in shorts and serving coffee to people on holiday at the beach, perfection. I had resisted the urge to send him the photo but of course I told him the story, haha, I couldn't resist. He told me to stop talking, he just didn't want to hear that his dream was being lived by someone else.
He then said something interesting to me. He said 'why did you have tell me that? I was happy being miserable, now I'm miserable being miserable!'
I wonder how often we do that? We continue to avoid thinking about what we ultimately want in life so that we can tolerate our current situation. If we just don't talk about it, we can get through. But if we let ourselves even entertain the idea of living a different life we are confronted with the reality that we have chosen, and continue to choose each and everyday to live a life that we ultimately don't want to live.
What story about your desired life are you avoiding at the moment? What dream are you avoiding? Are you actually happy being miserable? Maybe becoming miserable about being miserable might actually encourage you to become courageous enough to change the story you are living.
I meet a lot of creatives that because of their varied talents, experiences and interests can do many things quite well. They are often overwhelmed by opportunities or possible projects they could pursue. None of these opportunities are in and of themselves wrong, but they often struggle to work out which one is right? So they hedge their bets and do all of them.
On a Monday they are committed to writing an album and booking a tour, the next day they are thinking of launching a tech company, then by Thursday they are going to take a flower arranging course. All of these options are good, but each time you change your mind you seem to lose momentum in the last thing.
Don't get me wrong the ability to do many things is something that should be celebrated and is much better than believing you can't do anything well. The problem comes when the approach of the creative generalist ends up leading to many incomplete projects that never see them truly live up to their potential.
Creatives love the fact that they can do anything with their life. The harsh truth though is that we can't do everything. We have finite time and energy.
So the question is 'Which opportunities help you express your "Why", align with your values and ultimately lead you to do something in the world that others just can't?'
This doesn't mean that you can't do a variety of things throughout your life/career, but could you possibly lean in and focus on a smaller number of ideas/opportunities at a time? Progress to a point where you see fruit of our investment of time, energy and talents and then reassess what you might do next.
There are lots of pretty good graphic designers or florists or musicians. But what would it look like for you to become more than just pretty good. But become known for your unique take on an idea, project or potentially a whole industry.
'The good news is you can do anything, but not everything, but that's ok because you can do anything!'
I've just realised something about my current work rhythm that I don't like!
I feel like I have stopped creating and started consuming. Maybe I'm being a bit hard on myself but I feel like I have settled for input instead of output. The ideas and creativity hasn't stopped but the regular output has. I have a list of unfinished blog posts, videos, songs and books on my computer. I have notebooks full of thoughts, ideas, revelations and plans. But to be honest none of it counts if they don't make the journey to output.
I work professionally with many people in the creative industry helping them thrive in implementing rhythms to help them survive the Creative Process. I believe these rhythms are tangible and they work. I know this because I have seen many creatives and leaders implement them into their own lives and produce amazing work and move forward personally and professionally.
But in a way I am realising that recently I have settled for watching and supporting others as they create and produce great original work. Somehow living vicariously through the output of others.
Don't get me wrong I haven't been doing nothing. I have been working on growing a business, I have developed coaching processes and workshop content. I'm currently working on larger projects that involve me producing original content, but on a daily basis, as a regular creative rhythm I have stopped focusing on sharing and shipping what I personally can produce.
So today my question for myself and to you is. What would it look like to produce something today that only you can, and share it with maybe a single person, or even the whole world? But focus on the process of adding something of value today, push something out into the world. You wont regret it!
Pursuing a career in the Music Industry can be an amazing journey. A career where you get to create, do something you love and ultimately share it with others. This is why you wake up every morning and can't get rid of the feeling that this is what you want to do with the rest of your life.
But anyone that has embarked on this crazy journey knows that the process of achieving your music dreams is filled with challenges. From starting off working crazy jobs to enable you to buy equipment, wondering if you will ever write another original song or somehow organising a small group of people that are so different in every way and calling yourselves a band.
The process is full of challenges, (but you don't care) because this is a passion that has grabbed you at the core of who you are. As I coach Artists and Bands I hear many of the same challenges, some of them may sound familiar to you.
Let me say something you need to hear. You are not alone in these questions and challenges. You are not doing this wrong, these challenges are part of the journey. It's not realistic to think you can navigate a career in the Music Industry avoiding these challenges but more realistically you can get support to navigate these challenges in a healthy and productive way.
We have seen first hand how coaching can help an Artist or Band begin a process of clarifying their direction and then making and achieving tangible goals. We want you to stay creative, sustainable and productive for longer. We want you to stay energised to pursue your music dreams and make them a reality. Coaching is an investment that we guarantee will change the way you see yourself, your creativity and your goals as an artist or band.
If this sounds like you or your band 'Flea Factory' is positioned to help you. To find out more about our coaching options for Artists and Bands follow the link below.
I have recently been working with some clients that in many ways couldn't be more different. Their personalities are not closely related and their approach to life and goals are vastly different. Partly this would be because they find themselves in different stages of life with different responsibilities and possibilities.
But something struck me while working with both of them. As we discussed the things that they value and in turn what their core motivations were, they were both extremely surprised when I told them that not everybody has the same core values as them. Not everyone processes the world the way that they do.
On the surface this seems self explanatory but in practice I am coming to realise that often we don't understand that our core motivation changes how we engage with the world.
For some, their core value is freedom and flexibility, but for many people the core value of security and stability is firmly at their core. What a beautiful reality that we are all different, that we all see our world in vastly different shades and hues.
I wonder what you value and what motivates you, and how you see the world and your place in it.
Often the process of creativity comes naturally, but the process of being confident in what you have created is a significantly more complicated journey.
It's one thing to have an idea and get excited about a new discovery but ultimately it is the process of sharing that idea with others that is powerful but at times daunting.
I'm there currently, I have a vision of what I want Flea Factory to become, the picture in my head is complete and beautiful. But that picture needs to now take place in reality. The daily grind is what is next. As Brené Brown calls it 'The Mess of Act 2'. The place between the Visioning and the Realization of that Vision.
This is the Creative Process, the challenge is to stay focused, healthy, encouraged, passionate and committed. Act 2 can be brief but often times it is a long period of incremental but important implementation.
For me this is the space where Coaching has made its biggest impact for me personally. A place where someone that cares about my success comes alongside me to help me navigate the mess that is Act 2. Asking me powerful question and supporting me as I daily make my Vision a reality.
Don't walk through Act 2 alone.
To find out more about what Coaching is all about, click below.
I’ve been described in many ways over the years. Creative, Energetic, Empowering. My internal words for myself have never seemed to match those, mine were significantly less encouraging. Often the problem we face is that people interact with our outsides but never truly see our insides. This is not a new concept but for some reason we continue to perpetuate the lie that it is possible to compare our insides to other peoples outsides.
I don’t know about you but the vast majority of people that I know seem to lead fabulous lives. They have fabulous relationships, amazing and fruitful jobs and clearly by their social media stream a very active leisure and cafe visiting lifestyle. Sure they occasionally write ‘having a sad day’ on facebook as their status, but everybody gets out of bed on the wrong side once a year.
Meanwhile I feel like a mess. I feel totally dysfunctional in most of my close relationships, my job is exhausting me and if I am honest I visit cafes to fill up on caffeine just so that I can crawl through my life and be somewhat functional.
So the vicious cycle of comparing my insides to others outsides begins. Our major problem is that peoples outsides are not the whole story. I once heard an Executive Producer of ‘Big Brother’ state without flinching that real life was just un produced reality television. What the hell. Life is just the poorer cousin of produced existence.
Is that what our lives have come to? A series of produced moments that can be pushed into the world as either a sound bite, a tweet, an instagram picture or a snapchat (old people - these are social media mediums). But those of us not so up to date with technology are no different.
I was once told by an amazing lady that she once decided to answer honestly when someone asked her how she was. Lets just say people often don’t want to know the real answer when they say ‘how are you?’ The socially acceptable answer is fine thanks and you.
See the problem is we spend so much time producing our outside life that when the producer calls CUT, we are left with what is on the cutting room floor. A pile of real situations, feelings, emotions and realities that somehow we now have to deal with, often alone. We can’t let anyone help us with it because that would imply letting someone see our insides, our unproduced reality.
I have spent many years working very hard to believe that what was going on in my inside life was somehow dealt with by osmosis while i spend 100% of my energy perfecting my outside produced reality.
You see the problem is that my outside life is not untrue, it is a representation of my life but it is just incomplete.
I am the things that people see me as but I am more than that. I have been reduced to a character that can be easily understood, interacted with and often promoted. But I am more than that, I am deeper than that and I am messier than that.
The lie is that this messier side of me renders me ineffective and somehow unworthy to continue to be good at the things people see on the outside.
Our insides do not undermine our outsides they deepen and ground them in a consistency and reality that is sustainable.