Each year, I am the PA in the all black uniform, running around a hot, humid city to deliver props or gifts for an annual production by the company. Last year I was too shy to talk to the keynote speaker, Gary Vaynerchuk in Nashville, and ask him whatever questions on the spot for my blog (and I was being watched by executives).
This year, in the same black uniform, I was walking a mile in New Orleans, trying to get out of the humidity to the inner cement corridors of the Superdome balancing a stack of gifts for the keynote speakers. As I found my way to the mainstage, I saw Brendon Burchard, best-selling author of The Motivation Manifesto, in a cue to cue rehearsal. Even when there is no one in the arena, he was electrifying, and after all the rehearsals I've seen that weekend, the level of professionalism and showmanship was pure mastery.
In the quick five minutes I could sneak in between him and his handler, I disguised myself as a fan wanting a selfie, but asked him:
What advice would you give for creative people to be high performers?
Work. Don’t wait. High performers don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Instead, high performers block time. Real creativity will show up then, when you’re deep into the work.
Feelings don’t dictate your creativity. Show up when you don’t feel like it. You can’t let feeling down that day, being busy or distracted stand in between you and what you want to achieve in your creative projects.
Intention matters. Your intention is to do the work, no matter how the work turns out. There will be a few days where your writing is lyrical and each word that is placed after the other is clear and beautiful. But most days, words are broken, fragmented and what made sense in your head just needs a little more detail to make sense on the page. But intend to show up, no matter what day it is.
Creativity only comes if… You start writing those 10 pages, then the creativity will turn on during the 11th page. And the more you show up, you realize that your work gets better and more intense; this is why the second half of the book is better than the first.
Just. Do. The. Work. I’ve worked with designers, producers, writers and other creatives who have longer turnaround times. And while I understand that quality work takes time, I felt like it was doing bad business. I had editors who would not return calls or emails for weeks, sometimes months on end. I believe that brilliant minds who deliver beautiful content can still be high performers and deliver on time, but the secret still lies in the way we manage ourselves.
I watched his presentation from the side of the stage until I was called away to my next post, where I would trek out in that bayou heat in my black uniform to be another person's PA.
After hearing his advice, I thought, "I’m a writer, I do this already," but I love that I have a professional author and speaker that understands what I’ve been telling people when I talk about how I write.
But then I came back to Los Angeles, and on the first available weekend I had, I told myself I would complete a list of tasks for my business and do some writing. Earlier that week I let jet lag and emails keep me from getting any deep writing done.
But then I had coaching calls, calls with my team, and a Summer Soltice party, yes, even in July, and I gave into the temptation of tacos and sangria under a tiki umbrellas with friends. So I got NOTHING done. Any writing I did was terrible, it wasn’t even good enough for my journal.
I realized that not once, but that whole weekend, I didn’t block time to write. All I did was try to knock out the to-do list and I didn’t move the needle at all in my business or creative work. So I decided to flip back to the notes from Brendon’s presentation:
I Must Live (and Give) with Intention
After hearing Brednon, giving great value became my intention. Value in the form of words followed by other words, delivered in different ways to people who needed them. And my intention every day is to wake up and write words that are better than the next, and serve people on a deeper level each day. Blocking that time each day became more important if I was going to deliver this value.
I Must Raise My Ambitions and Refuse to Settle
I hate goal setting, and when I watched Brendon’s New Year’s video, he said to stay away from SMART goals, which is one of the reasons I liked him right away.
I have a job where I write these sugary, go-getter, you-can-do-it, type of content but nothing was moving the needle forward for our distributors or for the company, and I felt like I needed to give something more substantial than the standard goal-setting garbage that was the status quo.
So I set a grand vision for myself, something that felt so unattainable and far-fetched, something I had set before but failed at miserably several times. But this time I decided that I would invest the money, I would commit, do whatever it takes, and be with the right people to hold me accountable.
And where am I? I’m closer to my goal than I have been in years, I have the connections I wanted to make, I have people who are reading my writing who wouldn’t have before and I have the courage to approach someone that I thought was out of my league a year ago. Had I not taken these steps and showed up every day, I would not have the quality of life I have now.
So make that block of time to create. You can show up to the parties after you show up with the intention to do the work.