#Echo12 :: Accidental Creative – Todd Henry

Todd Henry is the founder and CEO of Accidental Creative, a company that helps creative people and teams be prolific, brilliant, and healthy. He’s also the author ofThe Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, which offers strategies for how to thrive in the creative marketplace and has been called “high-octane fuel for creative productivity” by Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art.

 

 

 

  • Accidental Creative
    • I want to talk this morning about you. You spend so much time with what you do.
    • We all eventually start asking the question, “Is it worth it?” or “Am I doing my best work?”
    • Is it possible to be prolific, brilliant, and healthy all at the same time?
    • It’s possible prolific and brilliant, but miss on health and sustainability. = Fried.
    • Many of us spend our days in a state of friedom.
    • It’s possible to be healthy and brilliant but not prolific = Unreliable.
    • It’s possible to be prolific and healthy but not brilliant = Fired.
    • How are you doing on this equation? Polific + Brilliant + Healthy
    • If you’re missing one of these it’s probably the healthy piece, the sustainability.
    • “The Way were Working isn’t working” – Book
    • 80% of people feel frustrated and cynical in their job.
    • There are a couple reasons for this.
    • “Physics is my business!” – Dr. Julius Sumner Miller
    • We don’t really understand the creative process. No matter how many great ideas we have, we don’t really understand where they come from.
    • Create-on-demand – Everytime we enter into this environment we are taking risks.
    • The creative process is the continual assault on the beach ball of apathy.
    • The love of comfort is the enemy of greatness in our lives.
    • 5 Steps:
      • Define problem
      • Explore options
      • Choose best option
      • Execute
      • Rinse & repeat
    • What really happens is 4 steps:
      • Panic about problem
      • Explore first option
      • Choose option
      • Execute!
    • Possibilities vs. Pragmatics
    • All creative professionals deal with this tension
    • This plays out different ways:
    • Time vs. Value
    • You’re not paid to sit in front of a computer all day. You’re paid for the value you contribute.
    • Predictable vs. Rhythmic
    • Product vs. Process
    • Most of what we do is process, but we’re judged on the final 1%, the product we deliver.
    • Instill a creative rhythm in your life.
    • Creative Rhythm:
    • Brilliance begins with the fundamentals.
    • It’s not what you know, it’s what you do that matters.
    • It begins by building simple practices into your life.
    • Focus
    • We have to get good at defining problems.
    • Do you ever walk around with false assumptions in your life?
    • These false assumptions limit where we look for good ideas.
    • Ping
    • This is the ping in your gut that tells you to go check Twitter, or email, or your phone.
    • The lie of the ping is that something out there is more important than what you’re working on.
    • If you check your email every 5 minutes over the course of a work year you’ll check your email 24,000 times.
    • Over the course of a year you will spend 66.6 hours checking to see if anything out there is more important than what’s in front of you.
    • We need to learn to tame the ping.
    • Define your work by establishing challenges
    • We need to be more laser focused on the real problems we’re trying to solve.
      • What’s the look, tone, feel?
      • Who is our target?
    • Refine those challenges by establishing the big 3
    • The 3 most pressing, open creative loops in your life right now.
    • Not the immediate ones, but the ones keeping you up at night.
    • Write these down, and just glance at these things, and look for solutions for these problems.
    • Relationships
    • Relationships are all about the connections that we make in our life that allow us to pursue meaningful things.
    • Many of us only have relationships out of obligation, or convenience.
    • Seek out relationships that challenge us.
    • Start circles
    • A circle is a group of 4-6 people that meet every 4-6 weeks
      • What are you working on right now?
      • What can we help you with?
      • What is inspiring you?
      • Develop a stimulus cue and start applying them.
    • Head to head
    • Get together with someone and just bury them with something new that you have discovered.
    • It’s been proven that the most effective way to internalize something is to teach it to someone else.
    • Learn how to craft and share ideas with other people.
    • Figure out and learn what is inspiring other people.
    • Seek leadership
    • We need people in our world to be honest with us.
    • This person should be someone outside of your organization.
    • Energy
    • Manage your energy effectively.
      • Practice pruning
      • We can’t be effective at everything.
      • Sit down and make a list of everything happening in your world, and decide what is good, but they’re not good for right now.
      • Think whole life
      • Sit down on a quarterly basis and decide what things need to be moved around.
      • We only have a limited capacity of energy.
    • Stimuli
    • Build things into your life that allow you to see the world in new ways.
      • Have a study plan
      • Are you aware of the deeper questions that you have in your life?
      • Are you funneling resources into your life that will help you pursue those things.
      • What do I need to be reading, watching, studying now, so that I can prepare for a project coming up in 4 months.
      • We need to get ahead of the curve
      • Take better notes
      • Are you paying attention to the dialogue happening in your head?
      • Sometimes our mind is trying to prompt us in ways that could be beneficial, but sometimes we ignore it.
      • Pay attention to that dialogue in your head.
      • Stimulus dive
      • Put yourself in positions that you normally wouldn’t go.
      • Do things that cause you have to use different senses. It prompts your mind to perceive your world in new ways.
    • Hours
    • Time is the currency of productivity. Where we put our time determines our success or failure.
      • Unnecessary creating
      • When was the last time you made something that someone wasn’t looking over your shoulder and paying you for?
      • We need to recognize that our job can never contain the sum total of our creative engagement.
      • Idea time
      • Pause, step back, and analyze a problem from the outside.
      • We need a sacred space in our life where we can toy around with ideas and pursue things.
      • You need to have space in your life where you’re pursuing possibility in the face of pragmatics.
    • Focus
    • Relationships
    • Energy
    • Stimuli
    • Hours
    • Why do this? Why build these capacities?
    • Why would anyone care if you disappeared into a hole in the earth?
    • What unique space are you occupying in this world?
    • Am I approaching my life and my work with purpose and meaning?
    • There can be an intense egoism in following everyone else. People are in a hurry to magnify themselves by imitating what is popular, and too lazy to think of anything better. Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success and they are in such a hurry to get it that they cannot take time to be true to themselves. – Thomas Merton
    • Cover bands don’t change the world.
    • We can’t afford to lose your contribution. The thing you’re wired to do.
    • The most valuable land in the world is the graveyard. Because in the graveyard are all of the unwritten novels, or other great things that never happened.
    • Die empty
    • When I go to sleep at night, I want to know that I have done everything in my power to pour myself fully into what I’ve done.
    • It begins with the small decisions that other people gloss over.

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