The Lake Bell Guide to Following Your Dreams In A World Run By Schmucks
Lessons learned from “In A World”
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 voice scene in In A World:
Bring all of yourself to everything you do. All I ever wanted was to find my thing. My trademark. The one activity that would define my time on this earth. And so, I spent young adult life running scared through a maze of false starts, failed identity experiments and oddball pursuits, reaching for anything that would fit, turning what I found into what I wanted. Until I had an epiphany. It’s not about activity, it’s about identity. It’s not about hammering one nail all your life, it’s about hammering lots of nails, one way, all your life. So instead of trying set up something I was going to do, I started cultivating and fulfilling someone I already was. That became my thing. My purpose. My trademark. And making peace with that changed everything for me. My attitude, my posture, my relationship to the world, I felt whole and complete and together. More like a new man, and yet, more like myself than ever. If you’re on a similar journey, struggling to find your thing, here’s the surprise. You are the thing. You are exactly what you’ve been looking for. Meaning is made, not found. No need to reach for something that’s already inside yourself. It’s right there waiting for you. You just have to own it. What vital clues to your identity are you still missing?
You can go back to liking me now that I’m a failure again. Chris Rock famously said that some people have jobs, and some people have careers. And the people with careers need to learn to shut the hell up when they’re around people with jobs. Because they don’t want to hear your career bullshit. Your happiness makes them sad. Funny how ambition grosses people out. How success pisses people off. Because you assume everybody will be happy for you. But the reality is, a certain population of the world is just waiting around, excitedly, for you to fail. And until you do, they will always feel disenfranchised by your success. In fact, there’s a fascinating study from the Journal of Applied Psychology about the causes and consequences of ambition. According to the researchers, more ambitious people appeared to be happier, but their happiness came at the expense of social bonds. Ambition may drive people forward, but it also holds their relationships back. That’s the cost of success. Which doesn’t suggest we should lower our ambitions, but perhaps raise our empathy. Practice a little emotional intelligence in the presence of people who haven’t achieved our same level of success. We have to remind ourselves that we live in a world with other people, most of whom don’t love their jobs and don’t follow their passion and can’t afford to become who they really are. And every time we brag about our eight second commute or lack of coworkers or the fact that we don’t have to wear pants to work if we don’t want to do, makes us look like insensitive pricks. Does your success make you inconsiderate of other people’s life situation?
Learn how to compress yourself. The advantage of living in vibrant, bustling city is, you can instantly plug yourself into the creative undercurrent. Commune with the sensibility of culture that’s in the air. And it’s an endless supply that’s completely free of charge, and the only condition is, you have to pay it back with your originality. That’s the social contract. You’re obligated to contribute to the intellectual and artistic commons of the community as long as you’re there. Anything less is an act of ingratitude. But the good news is, your work doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be yours. Ownership is more important than quality. Quality is an objective measure. It’s a judgment of the matching of expectations with experience. Ownership, on the other hand, is completely subjective. It’s something nobody can take away or criticize. Because it belongs to you. This movie was an inspiration to me because of its originality. Lake Bell didn’t just star in a another movie, she created a unique vehicle for her writing, acting, producing and directing skills that put her full range of abilities on display. She compressed herself. She concentrated her portfolio of talents into a tight little package that demonstrated the full firepower of her creative arsenal. What talents do you have that few, if any, see?
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What did you learn from this movie clip?
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