John Cleese gave this speech back in the 1990’s about creativity. Apparently he was a bit of a student of the topic. 🤷🏻♂️
His main point was that creativity is not something that you have or don’t have. And it is not related to traditional intelligence.
Creativity is a mood – an open, curious, and playful way of operating. He calls this playful, creative state “open mode”, whereas we normally go through life in “closed mode”, basically trying to get stuff done.
To be fully effective, a creative person needs to juggle both modes well. After all, you’ve got to find the creative flow and keep your projects on track to actually get sh*t done.
This creative “open mode” is subconscious and requires de-focusing in a way. In other words, you can’t force creative breakthroughs. It is in this relaxed open mode where the creative magic happens. You just need to allow yourself the time and other factors to let yourself be creative.
This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.
One reason I liked improv class was that it forces you into this open, playful mode (even when you are terrified).
“We see ourselves as a city on the hill, a stronghold of democracy, looking out for threats that come from abroad. But… human nature is such that American democracy must be defended from Americans who would exploit its freedoms to bring about its end.”
With this in mind, I thought it would be helpful to visit practical tips from book On Tyranny. This book is full of simple lessons from 20th century Europe that we can apply to our own lives to help maintain our freedom in this really weird modern American scenario.
Cool quote from this TED talk about almost dying and then living.
Meaning is not found in the material realm; it’s not in dinner, jazz, cocktails or conversation. Meaning is what’s left when everything else is stripped away.
There are lots of way to interpret that quote, of course.
One way I look at it is this: life is about who you are. If everything in your life suddenly disappeared and you were dropped into an empty field in an unknown country, what person would be standing there?
I’m not talking about some crazy Naked and Afraid survival scenario. Suppose you have some money and some clothes. But not much else. Who is that person standing in the field? What does he know? What does he want? How does he move forward? How will he impact the world around him? That’s who you are.
I’m not actually sure if that’s what that quote meant ☝️, but there’s my take. 😆
This goes with Aristotle’s idea that the meaning of life is what you do — how you impact the real world. As humans, we are uniquely gifted with smart brains and “rational faculty”. We are happiest when we use these minds for some purpose in the world.
A poet should write, a teacher teach, and a doctor heal. Not only should each person do their thing, but they should do it well.
I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty inspirational. 😊
So here are some highlights of all my “Things” in 2020.
Lastly year, I completed 108 personal projects. Each project consists of a number of specific to-do items (tasks). A project can be something small like 🛳 Renew passport (6 tasks) or big like 🎸Convert guest room to a music studio (31 tasks).
I generally include an emoji in my project names because somehow they help motivate me. 🤷🏻♂️
Some favorite completed projects of 2020 were:
🗳Vote (3 tasks)
🤹♂️Plan for best self (7 tasks)
🦠Corona (5 tasks), my most fitting “project” for 2020
I canceled 9 projects, such as:
🦃 Holiday family plans, the most fitting cancellation for 2020
I completed 11 projects to “fix” things, including:
🐍Fix that gap under my door (3 tasks)
🥁Fix drums (luckily only 2 tasks and zero dollars)
✍️Blog fix up (6 tasks)
Top project in progress:
📘Write a book (43 tasks completed, many more to go — and growing)
In 2020, I completed about 7 per day on average. This is useful because it tells me how to pace myself.
I canceled about 1.4 per day. Canceling isn’t a bad thing — it’s just the opposite. It’s a conscious choice not to do something you thought you needed to do.
Going into the new year, I have 62 projects in progress. Hmm, it already looks like a busy year coming up. 🤔
Here is one of the SQLite queries I used for this post. 👨🏻💻
SELECT title, date(creationDate, 'unixepoch') as start, date(stopDate, 'unixepoch') as stop from TMTask
WHERE type = 1
AND status = 3
AND date(creationDate, 'unixepoch') BETWEEN '2020-01-01' AND '2020-12-31'
ORDER BY creationDate
It’s so good that I am just going to summarize it and quote it a lot right here per my own goals, but you should read it for yourself.
You Don’t Need A Bunch of Money – But making money encourages personal growth and gives you freedom and peace of mind. And the personal growth keeps you away from bad jobs, bad bosses, and bad commutes.
You Don’t Need to “Find Your Passion” – Just be good at something. Passion comes from being good at something, not the other way around. Being good at decent job can get you autonomy, a sense of meaning, and a positive work environment.
If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (“what can the world offer me?”) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).
You Don’t Need Everyone to Like You – “The best way to get other people to like you is to learn how to like yourself.”
You Don’t Need (Or Even Want) to Be Famous – “What can you pursue if fame isn’t the answer? Pursue building a tribe instead.”
I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.
You Don’t Need Your Life to be a Movie – “You want a feeling of accomplishment, growth, and the pride that comes from following through with your goals.”
The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.
With really interesting problems, you usually don’t need to think harder. You need to relax and let you mind do its thing while you sleep or do errands. That is when genius strikes. ⚡️
Creativity is all about making interesting connections. Albert Einstein called it “combination play.”
In my experience, this unconscious combo play is important for figuring out what do to and not so much how to do it. Once the what is clear in your mind, it can be followed by all the conscious thinking and hard work to get it done. Unfortunately, that part does not happen in your sleep. 😉
As a side note, there is also a beautiful space when your mind is so immediate and present that is simply doesn’t have time to think. This is what I like about improv. And also baseball.