Quote du Jour: Simplify

The ability to simplify

means to eliminate the unnecessary

so that the necessary may speak.

- Hans Hofmann

Baby Bjorn at Gooseberry Falls Lake Superior Baby Bjorn at Lake Superior Baby Bjorn

Close the Gap – Creative Perseverance

A short and sweet video pep talk for aspiring creative types, by Ira Glass:

A creative person is often a sensitive person — a person who is keenly aware of all of their senses, all of their feelings and thoughts. This is because creativity is linked to a refinement of the senses.  Want to become more creative?  Start observing more carefully what you see, hear, touch, smell, taste and think.  It’s a process of improving discernment and mindfulness. Yet, this sensitivity comes with a risk:  To be able to produce great work, a creative person must not be so sensitive that they can’t tolerate the pain of initially producing crappy work.

(Corollary for Managers of Creatives:  To develop your team’s talent, you have to be patient and encourage them to persevere through disappointing output.) 

Tolerance of Pain

The Kalenjin tribe of Kenya dominate the world in long distance running competition. According to some authors, this tribe has been environmentally, culturally and genetically optimized for long distance running… optimized not just in physical skill, but also in mindset. The tribe has longstanding rite of passage which select for pain tolerance. If you can’t tolerate extreme pain, you’re kicked out of the tribe.

You'll have to knock a bunch of these down at first... and yeah, it's gonna hurt.

You’ll have to knock a bunch of these down at first… and yeah, it’s gonna hurt.

To become a strong athlete, a big part of it is learning to overcome physical pain.  If you can overcome that pain, you can stretch your goals and continually improve.

To become a talented creative, a big part of it is learning to overcome mental pain of disappointment in your own work. If you can overcome that pain, you can keep practicing and eventually produce something inspiring.

Ultimately, it’s about overcoming the false dichotomy of  being a strong versus a sensitive person  — be sensitive to the product and strong in the process.

 

The Zen of Exercise: Stop Counting Push-ups

“You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you.”

- Jim Rohn

The best things in life cannot be bought with money, but even still, they are not free. The best things in life require effort.

Mindfulness, loving-kindness, sense of belongingness, physical fitness, and probably a few other “ness”‘es —  all of these require different forms of effort and mental discipline.

In the pursuit of improved physical fitness — and in an effort to “walk my own talk” — I make an effort to do at least one set of push-ups daily.  My goal is to do, at minimum every day, the same number of consecutive push-ups as my age in years.

The thing is, I’ve been holding steady at 30 push-ups for a while… and while 30 is a nice round number, it’s (ahem) short of my goal.

Perhaps it’s a deeply buried denial about the inevitable marching forward of years… or perhaps it has to do with getting too focused a number.

Breaking Past 30

Here and there I get up to 31 or 32 push-ups… but then I slip out of the routine for a bunch of days and then I’m back down to 30 push-ups.

Recently however, I noticed that I never slipped back to 29 push-ups.

Always… with my very last… bit of… energy… and… Captain… Kirk-like… strain…just… barely… made… it… to…  30.

Hmmm.

Or much lower…. 20 push-ups if I was really tired.

Still, 20 is a suspiciously round number.

Hmmm.

So the other day I stopped counting when I approached the number 25… and, by my reckoning, made it past 35…

..until I realized it, and then I stopped, exhausted.

“The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

(…)

Clearly, it is the second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.

One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. It’s no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won’t. You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when you’re halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it’s going to hurt if you fail to miss it.

It is notoriously difficult to prize your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most people’s failure, and their eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport.”

- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Today I resumed counting and was up to 38.

Onwards and upwards.

Quote du Jour: Keep Going

“If you’re going through hell… keep going.”  

 – Winston Churchill

 



A couple of motivational montages to close out the week… month… fiscal year…

Quotes du Jour: On Writing What You Know About

Two quotes, attributed to two writers, both convey the same general idea:

 

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”

- Gustave Flaubert

 

..and…

 

“I write to discover what I know.”

- Flannery O’Connor

 

..and when I no longer know what to believe,  that is when I find it hardest to write.

Oceanfront INSDSG

..and that is when I probably need to write most.

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