DIT beats DIY

One of the most amazing things about the Quest and Dare to Excel challenges have been the people I’ve connected with. People whose words and work inspire and amaze me. People who have expanded my way of thinking and broadened my horizons. But this whole journey has also re-opened my eyes to the likewise impressive people doing great work outside of the current quest.

#DaretoExcel Challenge- 14:

Champion someone else’s work in public. Identify someone whose work you believe in and want to acknowledge specifically and genuinely in public online.

That someone may be a colleague you’ve connected with in our forum. It might be a team member. It might be one of your customers, clients, or participants who has done heroic work in line with what you and your brand Story are all about.

It might even be a perceived competitor – someone who shares members of your audience.

Here are ways you might champion them:

  • In a blog article or LinkedIn article, mention them and link back to their work.
  • Share their work on your Facebook Wall or Twitter feed with a recommendation.

Do It Together. It’s exponentially more fun and effective. And it’s business as unusual

I’ve mentioned many of the names listed below on this blog before. I’ve also shared them on Facebook, both on my timeline and in groups I belong to, and mentioned their work in many conversations. But for those of you who don’t want to dig back through months of posts to find them, here is a handy reference list. My life and work has evolved in a truer direction due in part to their presence in our shared quest to embrace our truest work and walk what could otherwise be a lonely path.

  • Saundra Goldman, whose Creative Mix: Art & Life, Optimally Blended is dedicated to just this idea–elevating the work of creative women with the hope that it will help inspire us to hear and heed our own callings; be sure to check out her Continuous Practice challenge
  • Brenna Layne, whose writing is filled with unique and beautiful images, ideas, and insights, and who also embodies the very essence of this particular dare in her dedicated and vocal championing of others’ work; I would love to live in one of her stories…
  • Marisa Goudy, whose thoughts on entrepreneurship and writing, have inspired me to rethink my own ideas on these topics
  • Tracee Vetting Wolf, whose work doesn’t stop with her art, it dives deep into the realm of creativity itself, and even works to open us up to creative collaboration
  • Vanessa Herald, whose #365 Quote project is chock-full of inspiring words, art, and all-around wonderfulness
  • Lora Jansson, whose brave and wonderful spirit is dedicated to the interconnectedness of all, and to healing our world through shamanic practice; her work with animals is particularly heroic

And of course:

There are, of course, many more, and you will see them, too, as I continue to share the work that inspires me, on this blog, on social media, and in person.

Who Is This For?

It’s one of my favorite fantasies to believe that I can stay safe inside my little bubble, creating only what I want to create, when I want to create it, and that people will love all of it and and pay me great wads of money just to have a part of it in their lives, but that’s not how the world works. No artist can live in a vacuum without devolving into self-referential, repetitive work, running out of ideas, or just plain going mad. And the truth is, the act of creation, for many of us, doesn’t have a lot of meaning if it’s just about self gratification. For me, specifically, I want my creations to make a difference in people’s lives–to inspire them, to give them hope, to help them find what they need to then make a difference in the lives of others.

There is a quote by Rumi, that elegantly sums this up:

Be a lamp… Rumi

But that is only the what, not the who. Which brings us to today’s question.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 4:

Who is this for?

The innovators who thrive advance their big, new ideas in part because they love their ideas to make a difference in other people’s lives. Do some research on the people who might benefit from your challenge. Look at the online conversations, on our private forum, or – better – have real-time conversations with customers or potential audience members.

Make notes on what feels broken or not-quite-right or downright frustrating in their worlds.

How does he feel when he’s not feeling so great? What one irritation keeps tripping her up?

Then make notes on this: What does she want – a different feeling, a problem solved, one step toward a yearning – that your project might surprisingly give her?

Go back to your burning question: How will your question invite them in?

Look back at your project brief. Did you define a problem in a way that speaks to their perceived wants?

Don’t over-think it for now. We’re taking notes and keeping momentum.

I have to admit, I balk at the word audience. It reeks to me of performance, as though I am putting on my beliefs like a costume that I can remove at any time and revert to who I really am. For me, and for probably all of us undertaking this challenge (and many more beyond), the whole point of this exercise, of the work that I do, is to fully embrace and share my true self whether it nets me customers or not. I want to focus not on giving people what I think they want, but on helping them find what they truly  need. But semantics aside, Jeffrey is right. Art for art’s sake is not enough. It needs to be shared, and it’s important to know who will be best served and to share it with them.

While I do think that there are people who could be well served by my first question, and it’s associated project Hands in Motion, Mind at Rest–people who want to find ways to work their way through distractions, to make space for the big important work to flourish–I believe it is the book, 3T, that has the most to give:

  • To women who feel like the heroic stories of our past have stolen our deepest symbols and stripped us of our power and agency, and long to rediscover and reclaim them
  • To students and teachers of Medieval, Celtic, Catholic, and most particularly, their intersection in Arthurian literature, legend, and mythology, especially those with feminist-leanings
  • To anyone looking for ways to create new stories to replace those that don’t fit anymore
  • To survivors of bad relationships or trauma, those dealing with grief and loss, those who may struggle with “invisible” health problems, or others, especially women, who feel powerless and want to take their power back (perhaps even preppers)
  • To people of all genders who believe that climate change is real but that the paths we have half-heartedly travelled in our attempts to solve a problem that threatens us all are just not working

Seeing it written it all feels a bit broad, but I believe there is a great deal of overlap, and that these rough notes will begin to coalesce as I work on the book. As for the small sample set of people I’ve talked to about the book–they all said they were excited about the unique combination of history, symbolism, feminism, climate change, and memoir the work will include. What they want is a new path to healing, re-empowerment, and social/environmental change. And that is exactly what I am hoping to build.

Time to rework my #projectbrief.


Your Best Pack

In this 12th and final prompt of Quest2015, Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend asks:

Do the people around you inspire possibility? If not, it’s time to 
make some changes. The fastest way to do the things you don’t think can 
be done is to hang around people already doing them. In 2015, what changes will you make accordingly?

One of the downsides of being an extreme introvert is that, on a day-to-day basis, there really aren’t that many people around me at all. And because of that, I’m going to answer this prompt backwards, starting with “In 2015, what changes will you make accordingly?”

I’m going to do a better job of connecting with the amazing and inspiring people I know and have drifted from.

  • My tribe of Silicon Valley NaNoWriMo writers (classes of 2001-2004), several of whom I was blessed to reconnect with over the holidays, and several more of whom I hope to see at FOGcon in March
  • My tribe of writers from Natalie Goldberg’s 2011 year-long intensive and 2012 France retreat
  • Former co-workers from The Exploratorium, CKS, Handspring/Palm, Walmart.com
  • Distant friends and family members

And I am going to do my best not to drift from the amazing and inspiring people I have met here in my no longer quite so new home state and through Quest2015.

How? By asking who I am missing and what I can do to remedy that. By making a list and checking it regularly. By reaching out, through social media, telephone, thoughts. By gathering addresses, buying stamps, collecting cards, and stationery, and sending them out.

But more than that, by carrying them with me–their words, their hearts, their images. And from some of them, directions to help me find my way back when I lose sight of this winding path.

So in answer to the first question: Yes, though they may be scattered throughout this country and beyond, they do.


Best Self

Today’s Quest2015 prompt comes from author and speaker Sally Hogshead, whose work is all about finding our Fascination Advantage®.

What is your most valuable personality trait — and how can you bring it forward in your best work in 2015?

After a brief derailment over exactly just who it was the trait would be most valuable to, I realized I was wrestling with air because, at least in my case, it’s the trait that’s most valuable in my life and for being of service to the world: CREATIVITY.

But because language can sometimes be imprecise, I’m going to throw in a couple of more words to help pinpoint what I mean here. My most valuable personality trait is the sweet spot on the Venn diagram at the intersection of CREATIVITY, INNOVATION,  VISION, and INTEGRATION/FUSION/SYNTHESIS (or CIVIFS for short)–bringing together different ideas, media, processes, seeing how they can be combined to create something unique, and developing a vision for how to bring it into the world, ideally for the good of all. Which is interesting, because according to Sally’s Fascination Advantage Assessment, my archetype is ROCKSTAR, with a primary attribute of INNOVATION (keywords: creative, visionary, and entrepreneurial). So, just in case I needed validation, there it is.

Unfortunately, despite my million big ideas and the sky castles I build with them, it all seems to fall apart at the level of implementation. I get overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start, I don’t know how to ask for help, and when I do, I often find it hard to turn down help that draws me away from my original intention. I also have trouble figuring out which ideas most deserve my attention (clearly a recurring theme for me). Especially between the “should” projects and the “want to” projects. I mean, really, how many people are interested in using apocalypse art and fiction as a lens through which to discover ways to save the world (or at least ourselves in the event of SHTF)? Especially when living on part-time and freelance work that barely pays the bills (in a good month). But I digress…

Given that my most valuable personality trait is my own brand of CIVIFS, how can I bring it forward to create my best work in 2015?

Get out of my own way and just do it. Follow the passion. Dream the dream. Then wake up and write it, stitch it, build it, live it. Then share it. Without that last bit, how will our tribes find us?