Lessons learned from “13 Conversations about One Thing”
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.
Based on my books in The Prolific 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 bar scene from 13 Conversations about One Thing:
Find any scrap of serendipity. Hugh said that when we try to reverse engineer the universe from our own ego, hilarity ensues, and that a winning approach is to just do our work to the best of our ability, and think of every project not so much in terms of the result we want to have, but as an experiment of, let’s see if this works. That’s about all we can do. We can try stuff. I once wrote a dopey little article about sugar packets, and it was republished by the biggest business blog in the world. Another time I wrote a series of blog posts about luck, and they were discovered by the largest television news magazine in the country. Amazing. And yet, despite my best efforts to identify projects that turned out to be wildly popular and pretend that such serendipity could be reverse engineered, I admit that it was luck. Pure luck. Yes, people who expect good luck constantly seem to experience it. Yes, once we start earning luck, we think we know how to get it back. And yes, we can build systems designed to make it easier for luck to find us. But we have to remember, human beings are superstitious natives who have to chalk everything up to something. It satisfies the human impulse for order. In fact, that’s why narrative was born. Stories shield humanity from the true randomness of the world, the chaos of the human experience and the unnerving element of luck. In what ways can you prepare for the serendipitous?
The best way to beat the odds is with massive output. Regardless of the blood, sweat and tears I invest in my work, I still know that every project is just another public bet with my imagination. There’s no way to predict which idea will stick, there’s no formula to recreate lightning in a bottle, and there’s no telling which product might to strike a chord with people. So I just keep on creating. I keep on showing up every day, even if most people are ignoring me, even if I’m starting to think I don’t understand the world anymore. Because that’s what professionals do. They play the long arc game. They trust the process. And they eventually beat the odds through massive output. Kind of like taking a cross country road trip. When you miss an exit on the highway, you don’t cross the median and bust a u-turn, you don’t pull off on the shoulder and put the car in reverse, you just keep driving. Because in a few miles, you’ll come across another exit and try again. And who knows? Maybe that turn will be the path to glory. The one that sticks. Or, maybe it will be another dead end. Doesn’t matter. Winning, losing, it’s all the same after a while. It’s the risk that keeps you going. When will your accumulation of small breaks finally catapult you to the next level?
Pessimism blunts your healthy appetites. This movie is a meditation on the things that prevent people from reaching happiness. It’s a dramatic reminder that optimism doesn’t increase your success, but it does increase your field of perception, which allows you to better notice the opportunities that lead to success. That’s why optimists tend to try lots of new things. They know that mindset helps luck find them. Troy even says it himself. He believes there is such thing as luck, but he also believes he’s lucky enough to notice it when it comes his way. People with bad attitudes, on the other hand, never seem to get better because they never seem to look for ways to make themselves better. Pessimism blunts their healthy appetites. And so, the negativity becomes an infinite regression. The more pessimism they have, the more opportunities they have to be right about it. But they delude themselves into believing they’re successful, when they’re really just successful at being right about being a pessimist. The point is, optimism isn’t just a clever technique to win friends and influence people at cocktail parties, it’s a practical, intelligent and proven system for increasing your odds of happiness in the long run. It’s a legitimate strategy for letting the best have a real chance at you. Are you willing to practice eternal optimism, no matter what the present tense may be telling you?
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What did you learn from this movie clip?
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