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Imagination x Intuition + Desire x Drive = Outcome
“The Trick to creativity, if there is a single useful thing to say about it, is to identify your own peculiar talent and then to settle down to work with it for a good long time.” - Denise Shkerjian
If desire is the driving force, then sweat equity is your investment in your dream, it’s the day to day drive needed to achieve your goals and keep things moving towards them. It’s also the process of continually learning what it takes to achieve mastery at your craft, whatever it is. It’s late nights spent at your computer, pen on paper, brush on canvas, running the extra mile, or checking details one more time as you hone your skills and push yourself to connect your inspiration, desire and vision to something tangible. All of this effort helps you form and reform your image of your new self - living your new life. And it’s that image that will keep you going through long days engaged in the less-than-glamorous business of sweat equity.
Think of drive as all the small actions you take to help you cross over the chasm of the now to the new. Your willingness to invest in your dream gives you the commitment needed to go back to the drawing board over and over again, with curiosity, as you try to understand what didn’t work, and as you uncover new ideas for what will. Recently I was watching the Tour de France and there was a person on tightrope over this vast, expansive canyon. Yes, he had a guidewire attached, but he was out there a long, long way just walking one foot in front of the other. The commentators were like “Wow.” That’s you out there facing your fear and putting one foot in front of the other.
Drive also makes you strong enough to withstand the response that sometimes comes with success. Pop icon Justin Bieber is a perfect example of someone who rocketed to stardom as a child with a great support system, but then struggled to handle the reality of worldwide fame. His first response was to act out with bad behavior. Then he realized he was probably going to have to learn how to survive and live in the limelight. This motivated him to get back on track and do the inner work needed to find his own True North. While you may not be working towards that kind of fame (and fortune), it is possible that achieving your dreams may dramatically change who you are in the world, and your relationships with people who think they know you. The new you may catch them by surprise and trigger a whole range of emotions in them such as envy, jealousy and confusion, while you may struggle to adjust to a life that isn’t oriented around struggle and doubt. Just remind yourself that these are growing pains that are pivotal to your ability to embrace your new life.
The two elements that must work hand in hand to move you forward are your willingness to invest your sweat equity and the continual fueling of your drive.
Reap the Benefits of the Beginner’s Mind
Nobody likes the feeling of being stuck with their wheels spinning.
Knowing you want to get some traction is a great first step, but then what do you do next?
Where should you expend your energy?
Here at the beginning is where the Creative Genius Equation works best. The first step is to work with your imagination by creating pictures or goal maps, reviewing anything you have written about what you want, and then spending time daydreaming what it will feels like when you have achieved your goals. After doing this, it’s time to get concrete. Get some post it notes and on the post it notes write down all the tasks big and small that you believe it will take to get there. BEFORE you get OVERWHELMED, create a way for your intuition to guide you as you prioritize the tasks, putting them into a matrix of boxes – for impact and effort – starting with 1, the least important, and increasing to 5 for the ones that are most important.
Once you have your matrix of tasks, and you’ve assigned each task with a number that indicates where it is in your matrix, take a minute to let this all sink in.
Close your eyes. 😑
Imagine yourself doing the task that has surfaced as a priority from your tasks. Let yourself feel what it will be like to have accomplished it. This exercise can be repeated with as many of the high priority tasks on your list as you like. Active engagement with your feelings about each task results in an enhanced neurotransmitter high that tells your brain that these goals are what you want. Do this as often as you can.
The second thing you need to do before you fall asleep at night, is run through all the big and small steps you took that day to move you closer to your vision. Express gratitude for every little and big thing that happened. I have said it before but let me repeat it again. The best way to see movement is to feel grateful each and every day, without fail, for everything that moves you closer to your goals.
Optimize Your Drive
Now it’s time to optimize that plan. Here are the common components that lead to goal achievement:
Belief. Have absolute belief that what you take action on you will achieve.
Vision. Create a detailed picture of your goal. Nothing fancy, just a sketch with all the elements of what you envision.
Purpose. Why is your goal important? Make a list of all the reasons.
Plan of Action. Create a roadmap plan with specific, measurable and actionable goals.
Commit. Sign your work as a sign of commitment.
I suggest that every week you create a short-term plan focused on a few actions might be all you need. Put up some paper or use a white board to capture your ideas. In their book Gamestorming, Sunni Brown and Dave Gray outline how to do a graphic game plan and I renamed this the rapid roadmap. Put your goals for the week down the right side of the piece of paper and then map your timeline for the week and the small actions you will take to get there. Don’t be tempted to skip over this step. The only superhero in this dream is you and the time you take to plan now, even down to what time of day you will work on which action; these are the things that will take you across the finish line.
A benefit to detailed work on your plan is that the more you plan, the more you discover what you need to research and investigate, so you can be better informed about what it actually takes to achieve your goal. The basic flow of design thinking includes some of these elements: ideation, research, test, refine and repeat. Once you have entered into this cycle of dreaming and exploring/experimenting with a focus on the future, other ideas you didn’t expect will emerge.
If needed, go back to the beginning, using your intuition to illuminate your ideas. Consider whether anything that pops up should be added to your original plan. Above all, stay curious. Ask yourself if each action is actually taking you closer to your goal. With your eye on your goal, it makes perfect sense to take a retail job so you can pay your rent while you continue auditioning for bit acting parts. Who knows? What seems tangential may actually be part of a bigger plan of meeting the lead to your next film. Keep your focus on your goal, reminding yourself that each step is an integral part of your journey.
Many people find it helpful to review their goals first thing in the morning and last thing at night as a way of keeping themselves actively engaged with their progress and focus.
This week your mission should you choose to accept it is to take one goal that you are working on and run it through these questions:
Belief. Do I have absolute belief that I can achieve this goal?
Vision. Do I have a detailed picture of my goal? (Doesn’t have to fancy, just a sketch with all the elements of what you envision)
Purpose. Am I clear why this goal is important? Make a list of all the reasons.
Plan of Action. Do I have a roadmap plan with specific, measurable and actionable goals?
Commit. Have you made a written commitment to achieve this goal?
Take action on the things that are missing as you answer these questions above and do the prep work to make this dream a reality.
I can’t wait to see what you come up with!! Yay you!