The Denzel Washington Guide to Creating a Perfect Training Montage

Lessons learned from “Hurricane”

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the training scene in Hurricane:

Go where the door is already open. Focus is the ultimate power source. And it’s available to all of us, regardless of personality type, work environment or creative tenor. It’s simply a matter of plugging into the right outlet. Finding the channel that activates our internal generator. My wife, for example, has always been obsessed with nutrition, cooking, photography, sustainability and healthy living. And she longed for a way to turn all of those obsessions into something real in the world. But there were too many projects to choose from. And the pressure of having to decide which mole to whack made it hard to focus. So she created a clearinghouse. A destination where she could unite all of her interesting elements. A productive obsession that intermingled her interests and themes into a meaningful, cohesive whole. A project that not only made productive use of the currency she’d been building up all these years, and also brought joy and inspiration and value to other people’s lives. And all of the sudden, focus wasn’t an issue anymore. Because she went where the door was already open. Brittany knew that her obsessions were proof that she already knew how to focus. So she took the training she already had and applied it. That’s what’s possible when we choose an idea as large and as great as we are. Our sheer excitement at having discovered something worth doing makes the inability to focus vanish like a vapor trail. Are you running around the forest putting a few chops in each tree, or creating an big enough axe to demolish them all?

Run toward freedom. Every training montage follows the same formula. Intense physical regiments shown through a series of short cut sequences, a dramatic song playing the background, a build up where the potential sports hero confronts his failure to train adequately and an inspiring voice over monologue by the character or his mentor. Once a long stretch of time has elapsed in the course of just a few minutes, the hero is now prepared for his greatest battle yet. That’s a montage. And it’s guaranteed to be the most inspiring and memorable part of any film. In fact, I would pay real money to sit in a movie theater and watch three hours of just training montages. That’s how motivated I get. Scenes like these remind me that when I lose momentum, self propulsion is the only thing that will move me forward. Rubin, in this case, took control of his life. He made up his mind to turn his body into a weapon that would eventually set him free, or kill anyone who sought to keep him in prison. Each of us can make this same decision. To break free from whatever prison is holding us back. To finding new ways to own our own world. Altucher tackles this topic quite a bit. He defines it as the freedom to pursue what’s inside us, the freedom to explore the blessings that surround us, the freedom to break down the brainwashing that chains us, the freedom to help ourselves so that we can help others, and the freedom to live the life we choose to lead instead of having to live the life that has been chosen for us. Sign me up. Who is enslaving you that you can get away from?

Impose a discipline upon yourself. The first lesson I learned as a guitarist was, it’s better to play five minutes a day every day of the week, than to play five hours a day one day a week. Because mastery is about commitment and consistency. It’s the daily discipline of returning to the instrument. And what’s interesting is, within the framework of daily discipline, enthusiasm starts to grow on its own and builds on itself. When I wrote my first book in college, I started with fifteen minutes a day. Fifteen minutes. That’s nothing. That’s literally one thousandth of my entire day. And so, after a few weeks, those small victories began to bolster my confidence. So I tried stretching my capacity. Twenty minutes a day. Then thirty minutes a day. Then sixty minutes a day. And so on. Fifteen years later, I write for five hundred minutes a day. But only because I started small. Discipline, after all, is a gradual process. We can’t jump into the deep end on day one, nor should we. Besides, what’s the rush? Life is long. Become prolific is about compound interest, the capacity to generate more and more value over time through slow, unsexy, but consistent creative increments. Rubin may have been building his physical body, but we’re building our creative body, our body of work, based on a practice of patience, delayed gratification and continuity. Are you willing to make gradual progress with your discipline?

What did you learn from this movie clip?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Inventor. Publisher. Songwriter.

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Written by

Author. Speaker. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Founder of Pioneer of Personal Creativity Management (PCM). I also wear a nametag 24/7.

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