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Monday, June 27, 2016

Jim Rohn — Discipline

We all have dreams and most of us never act on our dreams.  We find excuses and reasons why we can't do something.  We focus on all the obstacles we see in front of us.  Dreams may inspire us to act for a day or two, but it takes discipline to keep writing and painting.  And this goes for successful writers and painters as well as beginners.  

I have read stories of successful writers and painters who stop working.  The first book or two made them a celebrity and they never finish the next book.  They get caught up in the celebrity of being a writer.  Being a creative leader requires discipline to sit down at the computer, to stand at that easel, or to sit at the piano.  

Do you have the discipline to accomplish your dreams?  Do you rise before everyone in your family so that you can spend an hour or two working on your art?  Or do you stay up after everyone else has gone to bed?  Do you do what many others only dream about?  

Creative leaders can become easily sidetracked by the next creative thought or the next creative idea. We are attracted to the energy within new creative ideas. It is a emotional high and can be addictive. If we are not careful we will jump from one idea to the next and never finish what we have started. Creative leaders must master the art of self-discipline if they are to be successful.

Are you struggling with your dreams or have you mastered the art of self-discipline? Do you procrastinate and never finish what you start or do you bring your projects in on time? Do you let the pleasure of the moment keep you from doing the work you were meant to do? Do you let the joy of new ideas get in the way of completing your work? Remember self-discipline is the key to your success.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Advice

As creative leaders, we all receive advice — some good, some bad, and some dangerous.  Be careful of who you listen to.  The wrong advice can be damaging to your emotional and mental health as well as your creative output.  Good advice can keep you on track and motivated to keep producing creative work.  Dangerous advice is that which keeps us from fulfilling our potential.  We give up because some expert says we will never amount to anything.  

As creative leaders, we are also tempted to give advice.  Be careful.  The wrong advice can destroy a potential artist or writer.  I learned a valuable technique from a trainer many years ago.  He said if you are coaching someone on skill development, you should ask them two questions:  What did you do right?  and What will you do differently next time.

Most people know when they made a mistake or messed up, even if they don't consciously admit it.  And when they write or paint something, they are very critical of themselves.  So get them to focus on what they did right?  Have them focus on the good things.  Then ask them what they will do differently the next time they write a story or paint a picture?  Get the person to focus on how he can improve.  

Monday, June 13, 2016

Jack London — Inspiration

What inspires you? What motivates you to create? What moves your spirit? I often find my inspiration in nature. Maybe a lone tree in a field. Or a full moon rising slowly above the horizon? Maybe it is a butterfly fluttering about the yard on a warm afternoon. Or a snow-covered cornfield with the stalks popping through.

If you wait for inspiration, you may never find it. You must seek it out. You must chase it through the fields. Maybe it is buried beneath a rock. Or hiding in a bird's nest. Or lost in a raindrop.

Sometimes inspiration sneaks upon you when you are working and catches you by surprise. Sometimes it invades your dreams and you wake up with the answer to your problems. When you pretend that inspiration is not important, it will dominate your soul.

Consider inspiration as a friend who comes and goes at all hours of the day and night bearing gifts that will delight you. When you open the gifts offered by inspiration, be not frightened by what you find. Cherish the madness that inspiration bestows upon you. Taste the sadness when it leaves you naked and exposed to the elements.

Kneel before the altar of inspiration and pray that you will survive the dangerous journey. Catch fireflies and offer them as a sacrifice to the gods of inspiration. Dance with the goddess of inspiration and steal her beauty. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for an opportunity to taste of the nectar of the gods.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali — Growth

Life is about change and growth as individuals and as writers and artists.  If we think the same thoughts at 50 that we did at 20, we have failed to grow and mature in our thinking. We have wasted our time here on this earth.  If we paint the same paintings or write the same stories at 50 that we did at 20, we have failed to grow and develop our skills. We have wasted the precious gifts we have been given.

I am much more accepting of life today than I was when I was 2o.  I now take the long view and realize the world will go on long after I have left this world behind.  When I was eighteen, I thought the world was about to end.

How have you changed?  What have you learned? What did you learn yesterday?  What do you still need to learn?  Have you stopped growing?  Are you simply existing — waiting for the end to come?

In the summer of 1966, I saw Muhammad Ali standing on a street corner in downtown Chicago.  He was 24 years old and I was seventeen.  He was already a world champion boxer and I was a teenager from a small farming community just beginning to engage with the world. He had already refused to be inducted into the armed forces and was stripped of his title.  My first protest march was two years away.

More than 30 years after I saw Muhammad Ali, I met one of his daughters at the restaurant she owned in a suburb of Chicago.  I was there to give a speech on the privilege of service. Life had come full circle.

Life is about the people who cross our paths, the relationships that we choose to develop and the memories we acquire.  Life is about growth, learning and change.  Thank you, Muhammad Ali, for what you gave the world of yourself and what you taught us.