Work Ethic

What True Optimism Looks Like


A true optimist doesn't sugarcoat reality or pretend everything is okay when it's not. Optimists aren't delusional. They don't insist that everyone mask their feelings, they don't encourage you to "fake it 'til you make it," they don't tell you to "grin and bear it."

True optimists aren't ashamed to grieve. They do not consider talking about the real, raw aspects of life to be a sign of weakness. Instead they know that hiding these things and sweeping them under the rug and pretending everything is ok when it's not is a sign of pessimism because pessimism is defined by fear.

Optimists know that people and places and things change and that there are lessons to be learned. Optimists know that whatever is currently happening can be redeemed.

Looking on the bright side doesn't mean ignoring reality. Looking on the bright side means insisting that what is right now is not the end. Looking on the bright side means moving forward in a way that believes people are not defined by their circumstances.

The mantra to "put on a happy face" in the name of "positivity" is not optimism. Saying "this totally sucks right now but it's not forever and we're in this together" is.

True optimists know what real passion often looks like and that it's not always sis-boom-bah.

When it comes down to it, optimists are defined by hope. Hope is hard and it is messy. It sometimes doesn't feel all that great. It is "the long hard stupid way."

It is the better way.


Originally published January 2013

Moving from Dreamer to Doer When the Path Isn't Clear

You’ve convinced yourself that the sign you’re waiting for is hiding beneath the clutter. Or that your inner soul isn’t at some mystic level of sign-receiving peace yet because you haven't yet nailed an Instagram-worthy self-care strategy. Or that the formula for success is in the pages of a book collecting dust on your nightstand. 

Seriously, if only the sign would stop taking its sweet time. You have a world to change, doesn’t the sign know that?

The sign you’re looking for is probably in your to-do list.

Do the next thing.
Then the next.
Then the next.

Dream, yes. But keep doing the next thing.

Dreamers who do find signs more often than those who mindlessly scroll through Instagram waiting for that elusive flash of inspiration.
 


Originally published January 2014

Playing For The Stage

There's a saying in improv: "play for the stage, not for the seats."

As it relates to what you do as an artist and visionary, it means taking what people think they want and delivering what they really want instead. In the wedding industry, Calder ClarkDebbie Geller, and Marcy Blum are all geniuses at this.

You're the expert. If you want to produce a unique wedding or product, you don't start with images from Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, or magazines. By definition, if an image of the idea exists, it's already been done. If you want to be known as an artist with a perspective then you have to play for the stage. This means not doing what others have done or what's already been published. This means not taking what your audience or clients say they want exactly at face value, but instead digging deeper.

Make no mistake: there's money to be made in playing for the seats, in creating work that pulls its inspiration from what's been done before. More importantly, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. If creating work that is on trend rather than being the one who is setting trends is how you want to pay your kids' tuition, then more power to you. There are literally hundreds of thousands of couples who simply want a pretty wedding and an awesome experience for their guests. This is a completely legitimate choice. Target makes zillions of dollars selling products that are on trend, but they are not the ones setting the trends. It is not their business model and it doesn't have to be yours.

Here's the thing though: you can't have it both ways. You can't play for the stage and for the seats. You can't be known as the most creative company in the history of ever and simultaneously be copying ideas from other artists.

The fact of the matter is that playing for the stage is hard. The work is hard, pushing yourself to be creative after you feel you've spent all your creativity is hard, attracting the right clients is hard. Playing for the stage requires a level of grit and moxie and thick skin and tough conversations that playing for the seats does not. Playing for the stage means you will be judged more harshly and that you will have to forgive and forget more generously.

If your goal is to be unique though, then playing for the stage is really the only option.
 


Originally published September 2013