04 August, 2011

Ask Al: Secrets of the Self-Employed Part 3

What you think becomes your reality.
I always had a belief that if I cleaned my bedroom/flat/apartment/dorm room etc., I would "receive" new work from the Inspiration Gods. If I asked my novel what it's name was, it would tell me. Or, if I projected confidence that I might feel confident. And guess what, it always happened. If you think the industry is screwed and there is no work to be had, guess what you will find out there? The power of intention might sound new age-y and silly, but the effects of positive thinking and being strong and effective enough to take real action is real! Take charge of your life. You know that's what I always say.

Ignore "cool."
Cool is dumb.
Cool is what you say it is.
Crime Drama is cool.
So are owls.
And red shoes.
And loving the earth.
So are curious people.
And talented hard workers.
So are "nerds."
Passionate, interested and interesting people.
Successful people do not try to be hip, they just do work that excites them.
Do that.

Focus on ideas instead of tools.
Truth: anyone can learn to use the tools, but it is the thinkers who really impact the culture in important ways. In the end the tools don’t offer anything interesting.

Worrying about the competition does very little to help your career.
I know it’s hard sometimes to ignore what other people are doing (we all--and I mean it we ALL-- think that others are doing better than us), but every one of us is on a different life path.

In yoga there is a term I love called "Staying on your own mat." (I use it when I teach the good children of Interlochen and of Pace University.) Hey! Don't look over at Skinny Minnie's mat and hate her for being more flexible than you! It's pointless. Because she might envy your strength. Not only does envy get you nowhere, but it also distracts you from your OWN PRACTICE. How are you supposed to improve if you are constantly comparing yourself to others?

As President Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." He was pretty smart. I'll also add that it is the thief of FOCUS. We are all here on this planet to accomplish different things and even though it would seem like one person’s path is similar to yours, it is not.

Only work for free if you are passionate about the cause or receive something of value in return. (Be wary of people who offer your name in lights in lieu of money. Many people will tell you something is good promotion for you, often it is not and there are no guarantees when it comes to promotional value). If you are not getting something of a measurable value (i.e. printed pieces, or money) ask for something else, creative freedom. If they refuse then they may not be a good client to work for anyway.

Always come back to work that excites you. Even if you get off track for a while.
 Do personal work on a regular basis, show it to others. You can reinvent yourself at any time.



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