motivation

positive

Whether you’re still holding strong to your New Years commitment, or you’re just trying to be a committed person in general, your attitude will have a major impact on the results.

Some say attitude is everything. I don’t think I’d go that far, but it is super important.

The way you feel about a thing or task has a big impact on how you treat it. If keeping to that low-carb diet seems impossible, you won’t do it. If you don’t think you can become a better pickleball player, you probably won’t. But if you look at such activities and habits with a hopeful, expectant attitude then you’ll likely stick to them and improve.

The sage words from Diamond Dallas Page in his yoga video series keep forcing their way in my thoughts,

“If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Just after that, the venerable DDP turns and looks straight into the camera (I mean, your soul) and says, “Come on, you can do this!”

You know what, he’s got a point, even if his coaching methods are a bit cheesy. Then again, he’s buff and healthy, so he probably knows what he’s talking about.

When it comes to animals and children, positive reinforcement has often shown to be a more effective training method than the negative version. It helps to catch them doing the right thing and heap on the praise and treats. 

Don’t bother with cats though, they just do whatever the heck they want. No amount of catnip can get them to dance Merengue. Trust me on this.

Rewards and encouragement are a solid path to good actions getting repeated. But how often do we shut ourselves down with our own negative self talk?

“It’s too hard”

“I’ll never get there”

“It’s not worth the effort”

“I’m just not good enough”

I’ve caught myself saying these more often than I’d like to admit. The problem is, these statements only become truthful because we repeat them until we believe them.

It’s time to replace such statements with something more helpful.

“It’s worth a try”

“I can only get better”

“At least I can give it my best”

“I can do this”

Can these statements enable us to do humanly impossible things like jump to the moon? Well, no. But wait … no, still no.

However, they can change our attitude toward what is possible and get us to jump higher and farther than we ever believed we could. You just can’t know your limits until you try and push them.

What creative effort have you talked yourself out of? Why not give yourself a little positive pep talk (and surround yourself with encouraging friends) then try again? Where will it take you? You’ll never know until you try. 

Come on, I’m positive you can do this!

competition

I’ve just recently had a son come out of the womb and into the world. He’s our second child now and you’d better believe I’m one proud papa. Yeah, It’s pretty awesome. I must say, his arrival has sparked many a thought about life, fatherhood, and even creativity into my sleep-deprived mind.

One thing I’ve considered is how his relationship with his older sister will develop. I think back on my own relationships with my siblings and how they have changed over the years. I hope the two will be good friends and that, together, they’ll be better humans than they would have been apart.

This got me thinking about competition, specifically the creative sort. I think competition can be a very healthy thing, but it can also be harmful with the wrong motivation. It’s good for kids to compete against each other; it pushes them to try harder and do better than they would have otherwise.

Competition teaches the victor the reward of hard work and the defeated how to deal with failure. It provides an excellent opportunity for everyone involved to learn about good sportsmanship. 

But I’ve seen many adults take competition to a nasty place, where they are driven by a constant need to prove themselves, to outdo everyone else—a place where they are never satisfied with what they have but must continue to outdo themselves or else feel like an utter failure. They live by an impossible standard. This attitude causes people to sacrifice their own standards and integrity in order to win, it's why the use of performance enhancers like steroids has become such an issue in professional sports.

The harmful sort of competition can be just as prevalent in creative circles. Writers, cooks, film directors, musicians, fashion designers, etc. can get to a place where they must do better than everyone else to prove their self-worth. This sort will never pass an opportunity to attack their competition. They will cheat to get ahead if that’s what it takes. In the end, such behavior hurts creativity, rather than promotes it.

It’s like being a hoarder with your creativity, unwilling to share, in case there won’t be enough appreciation and admiration to go around. Just like hoarders, such a life becomes disgusting quickly and inevitably drives others away—not just the competitors, but also allies and friends.

Instead, why not share what you have and encourage your peers to do the same? Teach someone less experienced than you and speak well of your competitors. The world is big enough for every creative to find an audience. As a writer, the more I work on writing well and helping others to do the same, the better writing will be available for readers and, as a result, we'll discover more readers who enjoy our works. It's a self-sustaining goal.

Yes, creative competition is great. I think C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien were good examples of this. But, just as in their case, creativity should be seen as a team effort, one based on encouraging one another to press upward and onward to become more creative.

 

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, do you find competition to be a boon or a hinderance to your creativity? Let us know in the comments below.