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Monday, November 2, 2015

Wilma Rudolph

We all have dreams, things that we want to accomplish in our lives, but many of us give up too soon. We don't have the commitment to achieve what we dream of achieving. To be an artist in a world where you have to have a 9 - 5 job in order to pay the bills requires commitment. You have to get up earlier than everyone else or go to bed later than everyone else in your family. You have to steal minutes wherever you can to write, to draw, to paint, to dance. 

Sometimes we have to create in isolation, without contact with other creative souls. We have to force ourselves to write even when our body and mind is finding ways to procrastinate. Many of us don't have people in our lives encouraging us to create. In fact, we may have people telling us to get a real job. We have to be our own coach and cheerleader. We have to be willing to do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do? Have you the commitment to be a creative leader?

Discipline is one of the keys to being an artist or a writer. One needs to work every day. People often say: "I work when I am inspired." If you wait until you are inspired, you will be waiting a long time. If you work whether you are inspired or not, you will find that soon inspiration will become a constant companion. Work opens up the creative spirit and the inspiration flows. So my message is simple: work every day even if it is for only 15 minutes.

Success comes from work. Work when you are sad. Work when you are happy. Work when you don't feel like it. Work when you want to go to a movie. Our minds are very good at finding excuses for not working. "I have to do the dishes." "I have to wash the clothes." And the list goes on. Work takes discipline and will power. 

Since you have no boss but yourself, you have to hold yourself accountable. Schedule your hours when you are most creative and stick to your schedule. Maybe you write between 5 am and 6 am. Or if you have the luxury, schedule your work hours from 8 am to 5 pm with an hour off for lunch. Some writers write in the morning and do their research and marketing in the afternoon. You have to find the schedule that best fits your temperament.

Creative leaders sometimes struggle with discipline. They procrastinate. They know they should pick up the pen and write or pick up the paint brush and paint, but they find excuses. When you find yourself procrastinating, remember what you want. What is your dream? What is it you want to accomplish? Why are you here? Focus on your goals and you will have the discipline to do what you need to do.

We all have dreams and goals but many of us never achieve them because we have not mastered the art of self-discipline. I define self-discipline as sacrificing short-term pleasure for the achievement of long-term goals. If you want to be a novelist but you never seem to find the time to write, you will never write your novel. If you want to be a painter but spend your time partying with friends and not painting, you may never produce any great paintings. The arts require a lot of self-discipline. We need to be able to sacrifice the pleasure of the moment for the achievement of long-term success.

What are you willing to sacrifice for your creative work? What are you willing to give up? Life is never easy. There are many days when you will take one step forward and three backwards. Do you have the stubbornness to keep going even when you see very little light at the end of the tunnel?

The creative arts are not for the weak of will. The creative arts require commitment, persistence and self-discipline in the face of cold-hearted rejection. Do you have the self-discipline to stay focused when the world is screaming that you should quit and find a normal line of work? Do you have the strength to keep going when you have received 250 rejection letters? How long are you willing to wait for success? Two years? Five years? Ten? Twenty?