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It’s easy to get lost in the land of stuff and things. It’s easy to get lost in the land of busyness and starting. As entrepreneurs we love starting things. We see holes in the market often and we think of ideas that fill them. That’s what we do. But what we really want is some sort of theme overarching our ventures. To pursue things that align with our values, our hearts, our reasons for making the stuff we make. So here’s a quick test for you to run your ideas and ventures by the next time you are flooded with adrenaline about a new one. I want you to ask yourself:

What would I scream from the mountain tops even if no one could hear me?

What is it that you believe so hard that you would stand and fight for even if no one joined in and said me too? Answer that question, define those beliefs. Then when that rush of the new idea comes, ask yourself:

Does this idea or venture align with, help give legs to, or provide a megaphone for the beliefs I would scream from the mountain tops? 

If the answer is HELL yes, it’s worth your time. If no, move on. What separates music from noise? Harmony. Rhythm. When things line up. That’s what makes music. If it doesn’t fit, it’s just noise.

Oh, this also works for products, conferences, opportunities, work, and (especially for photo and video folks) gear. My friend David duChemin says it best “Gear is good. Vision is better.”

Friends, life is too short to not do the things you want to scream from the mountain tops. And this is not a “follow your heart” post. It’s a productivity post. Follow what you know, that you know, you should follow. Anything else is wasting precious time and energy.

Make great things.

Chris

 

 

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How To Be UnforgettableAll good stories have an element of the unexpected. It’s what we all wait for in stories. You know when you listen to someone tell a story and it just seems “anti-climactic?” That’s because it’s missing that element of unexpected. The dragon didn’t pop out of the woods and chase them off course. The ring didn’t start to change Frodo. You didn’t find out that Tyler was an hallucinatory alter-ego. You see the unexpected makes us remember. We remember the little unexpected moments and we miss them when they’re not there. Which, ironically, means that on some level we expect the unexpected. We crave it.

I heard a story once about Bill Murray. Well, lots of stories. He’s kind of the king of unexpected stories. But one that sticks out the most is one I read from some dude who met him in an elevator. The dude gets in an elevator headed down to the lobby. The elevator stops on the next floor and Bill Murray walks in. The dude (storyteller dude), being kind of star-struck, wanted to say hello but he couldn’t find the courage. All the way down to the first floor in an elevator with Bill Murray and they were just silent.

The elevator reaches the bottom floor. They both walk out and as they part ways the guy stops him. “Hey! I’m sorry but I’m a huge fan and I just wanted to say hi.” Bill Murray looks at him, stone faced, then turns and walks away in silence. The guy was a little taken back and disappointed at the lack of response but turned and started to head in the opposite direction. When out of nowhere he hears foot steps. Like someone running. They’re getting closer and closer until he gets tackled from behind. In a daze he looks up to see Bill Murray standing over top of him.

“You will never forget this.”  He said. Then walked away.

He never will. My guess is you’ll never forget it either. Because that response, running up and tackling a stranger, that was unexpected.

Maybe tackling is not your thing but… what is your thing? What part of the story you’re telling will be unexpected? Unforgettable? We need to think about this for our life, for our work, and for our business. The unexpected is unforgettable and it is what people will remember from the stories you tell.

How can you add an element of unexpected in to your life and work to make it unforgettable? 

If you can answer that question, daily, I predict great things for you 🙂 Unexpected, unforgettable things.

Make great things.

Chris

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Impostor Syndrome

Are you walking around with all your best ideas still in you because you’re afraid the world might see you for the fraud you are? 

I’m here to let you know you’re not alone. Almost everyone I’ve ever talked to about this says they have struggled with it at one time or another. It’s been dubbed Impostor Syndrome (by somebody. I don’t know who. Just go with it, guys.) and it’s that feeling you get like you’re somehow going to be “found out.” That “people” watching you are going to see you as an impostor or someone pretending to be someone they’re not.

Here’s the REALLY good news…. No one is watching you. No one is listening. Everyone is wrapped up in their own stories they tell themselves and much too busy with that to watch everything you do.

That. Is. Liberating. You don’t have to keep your ideas locked up anymore. You don’t have to be afraid. You can step out of that cage and look around at all the other humans who, turns out, have the same fears you do. You can beat impostor syndrome by changing this mindset. Just remind yourself that everyone has stuff. Everyone has stories. They’re not going to hop out of theirs just to play the villain in yours. It’s just never going to happen.

But just for kicks let’ say they do… If impostor means I’m willing to make something no matter what you think of me or what you think of what I’ve made, then call me an impostor. But here’s the thing… I’m not listening.

You’re not an impostor. You’re a creator of awesome things. That creativity runs through your veins. It’s part of who you are as a human. There’s nothing fake about that.

So…

Make Great Things,

Chris

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Here’s what I know to be true this morning: I know that I work best when I have good input in my life. When I am being intentional about my thinking, my consumption of information, and my experiences. I also know that I have chosen a life that allows me to have a certain amount of freedom. Freedom to spend time with my family, travel, and enjoy the present. And I know that if want to continue that trend long-term, then I have to commit to doing the work required to make it so.

The work required is waking up early, taking care of my creativity so I can make good work, and asking myself on simple question and honestly searching for an answer every single day:

How can I add value today?

As creative entrepreneurs, we have made a choice. We have each made our own lists of truths. We each have to be willing to commit to the pursuit of the vision if we want that vision to become real. We know we thrive when we are creating something from nothing. And we feel most alive when we do that every. single. day. That’s the choice.

So what do you have to add today? If your answer is nothing, you’re probably in a busy season or maybe a season of doubt. If that’s you, I have some homework for you.

When you feel valueless do this:

Say out loud what it is you do.

So for me: I help creatives get out their comfort zone so they can get unstuck, keep making work they love, thrive long-term, and become more resilient. 

Here’s an easy formula to help you flesh out your own description of what you do:

“I help __________ do _________ so that they can ___________.” (Think of it in the form of problem and solution. What’s the biggest problem your audience has and how do you solve that problem?)


Ask yourself: What’s one thing, even if it’s small, that you can do to make that statement true today?

Let’s say you’re a newborn photographer and your “whatido” statement is:

“I help new parents document the first year of life with a newborn so they can remember how they felt, be present during this time of change, and live fully.” 

What’s one thing you can do today to make that true? If you’re talking to new parents, what types of things might they be interested in? It doesn’t have to be photography related it just needs to add value. For example you could talk about things that help babies sleep (Huge pain point for new parents. Speaking as a parent to a 4-month old :)) or how to be present when feeding your baby or how to travel with your newborn. All of this adds value to your audience and it makes your statement true.

SHARE.

If you can sit down and answer these questions today then I know you can find at least one thing to share. So share it. Remember: the things that seem obvious to you are amazing to others. Even if you think it’s been done so many times you’ll be sick if you see it done again, chances are your audience still needs it. Things are said over and over again because people need to hear them over and over again. So share. Write an article, share an article, write a post on social media or do all of the above! You know what your people need, so give it to them.

Remember you are choosing this work for a reason. In order to be more resilient you have to be willing to get uncomfortable. And standing up and saying things to people is uncomfortable but it is worth the risk if the reward is getting to thrive and do work you love, long-term.

 

So stand up and speak.

Make good things, my friends!

Chris

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curiously-creativeIf you’ve ever been around children for more than 5 minutes, you know how curious they are about the world around them. Their brains are an open filing cabinet receiving new information every single day. If you’re talking with a 7-year-old kid and you happen to mention something they’ve never heard before, their eyebrows wrinkle up with wonder and you can see the look of curiosity as they ask, “What’s that mean?” This is them creating a new file for this completely new information so that they can store it and find it the next time it comes up in conversation. 

Curiosity is baked into all of us because we’re humans. We’re naturally curious about the things around us from the beginning. Unlike when we were children though, our filing system is not always open. Some of the files may be a bit dusty, even. So as we grow older, we have to be more intentional with our curiosity. We remind ourselves of it and when we do, the nature of curiosity takes over and runs away with us.

Think of the last time you felt intensely curious about something. It didn’t take much effort did it? You were probably introduced to an idea that sent fiery signals through your brain as you thought of it. This is what has to happen in the creative process. If we want to make things that excite us, we have to be curious. Explore the mysteries that make your eyebrows wrinkle up with wonder.

Open up the filing cabinet of your mind and create new files for new experiences and new ideas. Create things with a curious heart. Be curiously creative in your work and see where it takes you. 

Explore, friends. It’s what we’re made to do.

 

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