So many of us are content to sporadically tap our creative potential, without ever building a quick system to spend most of our time there. I am no exception. There are periods when life’s demands are so relentless I find myself at the end of a week or a month not remembering the last time I built something cool, or contributed anything meaningful to the lives around me. Let’s take a simple approach to keeping that stupidity from happening.
In all of my seeking: (spiritually, physically, emotionally, and creatively) I’ve discovered again and again that we are only really here to Create and to Serve. All the other success stuff we chase is really just an indicator of how well we consistently achieve these two fundamentals. To become, and to stay conscious of Creating and Serving in our daily lives creates magic. It also creates more blissful households, more exciting relationships, and an upward spiral of success.
In every moment, there are infinite opportunities to create something to serve others. It can be as simple as a good meal, cleaning the kitchen, or a quick email to uplift a coworker. It can be sharing a photo of your children that kicks an undeniable frenzy of love and energy. These are the tiny acts we carry out in the moment that become the glue that holds together an otherwise chaotic day. They are creative because we engaged our freewill to get them done. They are of service because they remind somebody else that we are connected, and that we consider it our duty and pleasure to bring them a smile, or at least some small reprieve from their demanding lives.
No one will remember that you could be a difficult prick to get along with, or that you were late turning in your expenses, or that your car was always a mess. Your legacy is the body of work you leave behind, and only you can define what that work is. By this definition, one of the most successful people I’ve ever known was Jerry Lamonica, a middle-aged stock boy I worked alongside at a gourmet grocery store. He took deep pride in his ability to perfectly stock the shelves, and he loved it when customers asked him where to find something. His worldly ambitions didn’t twist him into thinking his work wasn’t enough. As I crank through project after project I remember Jerry’s simple, yet very Zen example: The successful person is the peaceful, fulfilled person. Some may confuse this with being complacent, but we’ll never fully know the life mission of another human being. Maybe it’s to stock shelves in heaven, or maybe it’s to judge everyone else as being lazy or complacent.
Every person is completely unique, so only you can align yourself with your singular mission and get to work. (The other option is to settle for being a derivative, shallow comparison to somebody else’s work.) Your simple, Grand Scheme should be to live a life of Creativity and Service. You don’t need to get too caught up in the day-to-day grind of who’s doing what or if your stuff is any good. You simply work each day to maintain and raise your standards, and then do your best to achieve a level of consistency. Over time, this will build and compound into a miraculous life of kickass output, billions of people served, etc.
One day, nobody will be quite sure exactly how you did it, or how you made it look so damn stylish. Your creativity and level of service will just suddenly seem undeniable. You have been a crucial component of so many people’s successes, that you are now compensated accordingly. You have contributed too much to all the rest of us, for too long now to go unrewarded. I haven’t noticed the universe ever working in any other way.
We need to accept that our work will change dramatically at different periods in our lives. My wife and I have experienced these seismic shifts each time a new baby came home from the hospital, or any time we’ve moved to a new city. Everything is up for grabs, including the identities we held so dear the week or months before. But therein is the lesson: The quality of our work is only important in as much that it supports our quality of LIFE. Our work should never define our worth as people. I’ve known too many artists who get a warped sense of attachment to their creative output or their jobs, to the point that if some aspect were taken away (a job, a band, the time needed to create full time) their full identity would crumble. I often need to remind younger sellers (on the plus and minus sides of their quotas) that “You are not your numbers”.
In retrospect I can see when mistaking my work for my identity derailed me as a creator, as a musician, a salesman, or as a Father. On my best days, or in my best years, I resign myself to flow in sync with any and all new demands, adapting my creative work and service accordingly. Some days I’m writing songs. Some days I’m creating bitchin’ spreadsheets. Some days I have to create a mowed lawn or getting the kids rooms cleaned. Your chances for success for any endeavor will always exponentially improve when you enter a situation with a “How can I make this better?” or “How can I help you?” attitude.
Listen up. No one can ever take away your creative potential, or your free will to tap in the service of others. Take the jobs, the house, take this material crap we’ve accumulated.
We will always rise, more effective and more efficient on the next climb.