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Monthly Archives: September 2017
“There was a hermit monk living in a cave in the mountains of Japan.
He was a talented artist, and over time he painted a picture of a tiger on the wall of the cave. He was extremely meticulous in his work, and it took him several years to finish. When it was finally done, the tiger was so realistic that when he looked at it he became frightened.”
Excerpt From: Goldstein, Joseph. “Mindfulness.”
How much of our day is spent on “Painted Tigers?” In this Zen story, the monk becomes frightened of his own creation. But, not just his creation, what the creation represents. If it is indeed an image that becomes real in his mind, it could certainly eat him now or if he stays in his cave, it could eat him in the future.
Can an image kill you? Of course not, or can it?
What you hold in you mind, an image from the past that hurt you, an image that makes you apprehensive of the future will define your reality. I’ll take myself for example. Cold calling artists I would like to work with fills me with dread. Why? Any time I reach out to someone I do not know already, who doesn’t know my work, there is always the possibility of rejection, and that is a painted tiger.
I remember all the times I called people in the past and they rejected me – painted tiger. Never mind that I’m relatively successful and I have also reached out with great success. But, in the moment I don’t remember the successes, only the failures. Rationally I know why, because they cause psychic pain!
Our minds are optimized for two things: to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. Of the two, avoiding pain (like being attacked by a Tiger!) is the stronger of the two instincts, and on a primal level your mind doesn’t differentiate between a tiger and a phone call. So, it becomes easy that in our attempts to avoid pain we paralyze ourselves.
The kicker is that paralysis also causes pain. The pain of failure and regret for having not acted in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle. But, even as the cycle may have started many years ago with real pain, it is now and into your future only being perpetuated by a painted tiger.
You have a choice: You can continue to stare at your painted tigers and scare yourself into inaction. Or, you can choose to see it for what it is: an image from your past that is ruining your present and future.
By doing so, you paint over it and reclaim your power. What are your “painted tigers?” Declaring them publicly is a way to cast them aside. Feel free to use the comments to share.
What do you value? Your family, wife, kids, friends, filmmaking, your career? All of the above? In what proportions?
In your work, what value do you provide? Are there multiple elements to your value? In what proportions?
Most importantly, what are your “values?” I would argue that values inform what you value and the value you provide, and all of their proportions. Your values, or “how you see the world” or “what you stand for” tells the world everything it needs to know about you.
So, what are your values? What are the principles that guide your life. Mine are: honesty, loyalty, hard work and humility. You see, knowing this about myself helps me color inside the lines. When I fall outside my values (and I often do, especially the humility one) , knowing that I have contemplated and articulated the things that are my guiding principles will instantly set me straight. In any situation, I am either walking with integrity in my truth or I am not, and if I’m not, it’s up to me to get back on the right side of my values.
It’s good to take stock. Do you value honesty, yet find yourself lying a lot, even about little things, even if to just spare other’s feelings? Doesn’t matter, you have to call bullshit on yourself and get back to where you’re supposed to be. You may have to fess up, make amends and now try twice as hard. It’s worth it.
It’s also OK to have a values wish list that you are working towards. On mine would be “no-ego,” but I’m so far from it that anyone who knows me would do a spit take at the very mention of no ego and Steve in the same sentence. I wield mine like a Sith Lord with a double sided Light Saber. It doesn’t mean I can’t aspire to it, notice where the line is and work towards getting and staying on the right side of it. That’s how you start to develop better habits.
So, think about it and as an exercise in getting on the same page with yourself. If you dare, state them in the comments below. What are your values? Whatever they are, know that they will directly affect what and who you value AND the value you provide.