By our parents. By our teachers. We were told that we can do anything we put our mind to. Anything! And all we need is PASSION.
Forget clarity, deliberateness, methodological determination, or even a business plan, as long as we have a burning, unquenchable desire to achieve some vague, ambitious and distant goal, we should be entitled to it.
We are the main character, and everyone else is simply a supporting role in our movie.
Surely we know better than this in 2017. Running a business is hard. Living off of your art is exhausting. We constantly doubt ourselves and think about quitting every day. As Ryan Holiday likes to say, “This seemingly innocuous motivation [ that is passion ] is so far from the right track it hurts.”
So what’s the secret? How do we care without being overzealous? How do we make progress in a society that rewards personal sacrifice over results?
It’s not passion. It’s Reason and Purpose.
“Those who are passionate are often unprepared and incapable of grasping the objections and real concerns of those around them. Purpose de-emphasizes the I. Passion is form over function. Purpose is function, function, function.” - Ryan Holiday
Believing in yourself is a great thing. The challenge is having the ability to place reason over passion and ground yourself in the reality that the rest of the world lives in. Where the market lives. Where your peers and audience live.
So how do we do that?
For starters, here are 4 common phrases to avoid that are dead giveaways of the fact that we’ve let our ego cloud our reason and complete awareness of reality.
1. “In case you missed it”
If you start your social media post with this line, you are basically saying, “I’m assuming you have my Facebook page open at all hours of the day. But in caaase you didn’t see this at 3:30am….here it is again.” That’s insane. The internet told us that we can reach everyone. We made the assumption that everyone must be watching.
2. “Everything happens for a reason”
This might be the biggest cop out of all time. Everything does happen for a reason. But sometimes that reason is that you f****d up and the damage you did in the process is irreversible. Like a startup who blows all of their investor’s money and chalks it up to “experience.” In reality, they just spent 4 million dollars of someone else’s money. Someone who won’t believe in these kids the second time around.
Or like Marlin in Finding Dory. Probably the most delusional character in the Disney / Pixar franchise. After deserving to be clownfish sushi for an entire hour and a half, putting him and his son’s life in danger for the second time, this is what he says to Dory after their improbable reunion. “Ever since I met you, you’ve shown me how to do stuff I’ve never dreamed of doing. Crazy things. Outsmarting sharks, jumping jellyfish. You made all that happen.” WHAT? Go home Marlin you’re drunk. Father of the Year candidate? No. Delusion Magazine’s Reverse Rationalizer of the Year? Yes.
Or what about Tylenol after their 1982 fiasco where 7 people died after taking their product after cyanide was found inside a number of their packages. Their market share dropped from 37% to 7% and were forced to change their packaging to ensure it was tamper proof. What if they had come out and said, “Welp, everything happens for a reason. At least our packaging is safer now.” A total swerve from taking responsibility right?
We are no less irresponsible when we use it. We usually use E.H.F.A.R when we make it out the other end unscathed. But again, this assumes everyone else is simply an extra in the movie of our own lives. We forget that we belong in other people’s movies too. We forget that there are real consequences for our decisions.
3. “You don’t know how hard I’ve worked for this”
Shark Tank is one of my favorite shows on tv. The thing I appreciate the most is how clearly it reveals the fact that EVERYBODY is required to overcome obstacles. But every episode, there are 1 or 2 candidates who, despite the wisdom offered by these billion dollar investors who have spent their entire lives building business, truly believe the rules don’t apply to them. That simply because they believe in their product, that it must be good and destined to succeed. The Sharks are polite and offer their voice of reason but the candidates are clouded by their own passion. Binge enough episodes and you realize how common the “you have no idea what I’ve been through” story is. Passion is important. Be passionate about your purpose. But you cannot be passionate in your execution. You still need to play by the rules of business. The market doesn’t care about your feelings.
4. “I’m not like most guys/girls”
Said every ex bf/gf ever.
So just remember, the rules apply to all of us. How we interpret our journey is as relative as walking down the street with headphones on. Only we can hear the music and feel the meaning amidst the mundane. To hear ourselves, we would have to yell. And that’s foolish.
“I have observed that those who have accomplished the greatest results are those who kept under the body; those who never grew excited or lose self-control, but are always calm, self possessed, patient and polite.” - Booker T. Washington.
Passion is overrated. Lead with reason and purpose.
Many people are surprised when I tell them that the majority of my videos on my website were shot on an 8 year-old Canon DSLR. The truth is, you don’t need the latest and greatest gear to create cinematic video. You just need to tweak a few picture settings and know how to leverage free editing software that will allow you to manually adjust and color grade your dslr footage. Yes, for free.
They say you should always spit out water before you take your first drink in the morning. Drink the first and you’re also drinking bacteria from the night before.
The wrong thing to do is say you are a writer, and then sit down and ask yourself “ok, now what do I write.” I write about the things that come up every day. That stick. That are relevant to my journey that I experience daily and need to get off my chest. Themes that I constantly visit when answering questions from people. I write every morning but I’ll only post the ones I feel give value. But I write. The good ones will stick. The bad ones will die in my notes folder. But they’re dead and I won’t have it floating in my head anymore.
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at 9 o’clock sharp.” - Somerset Maugham
The key is self awareness. Knowing that no one cares about the movie version of your life that you live. Of course your article was the best thing you’ve ever written, of course people want to see your selfie at the gym, of course people have your social media page open waiting on the next post. You wrote it. You feel it. And you created it.
I wake up every day and remind myself that a million other people do what I do. It grabs me from my romantic narrative and slams me back to the literal world the rest of us live in. 5 years in to this art thing and it’s hard for me to be moved by inspirational quotes, or dm’s promising me an “exciting opportunity to make passive income.” Starting is the easy part people. Finding a way to succeed in this paradox that is the “art-business” is hell. We are asked to solve really hard problems by detaching ourselves from the world and creating, (the art side), yet also expected to be available 24-7 (the admin side). Embracing and resisting distraction.
The one thing I write back to people the most is the idea of trade-offs. You have to embrace them. There is no such thing as having it all. It’s simple. If you do 2 things, while you’re doing 1, you are not doing the other. Time is the most valuable variable in mastering anything. It holds true in art, in decision making, in relationships. A friend of mine told me that his relationship was in deep shit. Long term GF, both love each other but constant arguing. I just let him know that we both had something that the other wanted. Freedom vs someone to come home to. The trade-off of living the choices we made. I wanted him to realize it. Of course breaking up wouldn’t have been a bad choice. Whichever trade-off we choose, we have to accept the other end and be ok with it and not look back.
“There is no such thing as multi-tasking, only task switching. Doing one thing, then another, then back again with significantly less skill and accuracy than if we had simply focused on one thing.” - Christian Jarrett
If you are still the person who posts “In case you missed it…” on what you posted at 4am, perhaps YOU have missed the point. The internet has told us that we can reach everyone. We created the assumption that everyone must be watching.
This project reminded me of 2 important things. First, always bring power chargers for your equipment. The Ronin I was using that day died just as we wrapped our main shoot. I was hoping to shoot this impromptu freestyle on that rig with my blackmagic production cam. But the Ronin died. And the blackmagic was stuck on that. Which leads to number 2: it’s not always about your equipment. Equipment DOES matter, but you can make up for it by focusing on storytelling. In the end, I had 2 pieces of dance footage shot handheld with a 5D Mark II. And this is what I came up with. All credit to Robin who destroyed. This is just my interpretation.