Tag Archives: Designer

There is no Magic Bullet

I’ve spent my entire career looking for a magic bullet.  Yes, it’s true, I admit it.  It’s naive, it’s purposeless and the laws of physics pretty much don’t work that way. The kicker is that I know better.  Sorry, we all look for one, but there is no magic bullet.

bullet_5I’m not a behavioral PHD, but my personal feeling is that the reasoning mind works so diligently to find solutions to any problem put in front of it, that at any point, the mind feels that it will find a permanent solution and move on to solve something else.

Lets take something completely inane.  Say you have a coffee maker that you have to put water in every morning to make coffee.  You hate that. I know I do.  I just want coffee first thing, I don’t want any extra work to do.  Eventually, you’re in Starbucks and notice they never have to put water in their machine.  Why is that you ask?  simple answer: they have it hooked up to a water line.  You think, I can do that at home. So, you call a plummer, run a pipe from the main line (at great expense) to the coffee maker, problem solved permanently.  I will never have to put water in the coffee maker again.  You are totally satisfied, It’s a magic bullet. Until the coffee maker breaks. Then there’s a new problem. If I could only find a coffee maker that lasts forever and never breaks.  Good luck with that one, I’m happy if I find one that makes it to New Years from Christmas Day.

We look for the magic bullet everywhere.  The next project, the next relationship, the next business idea, the next job.  Nothing solves permanently.  At the risk of alienating my religious friends I’ll say that religion offers a magic bullet of permanent peace, permanent salvation, etc., etc.  But, as the saying goes: “Jesus Saves,” not “Jesus Solves.” No matter how committed you are, there is still a lot of work and adjustment to do while walking around earth.  Eternal life?  That sounds like a magic bullet.  I don’t know, I guess we’ll eventually find out.

images-1 Even the magic bullet in the movie JFK had a lot of work to do.  As Kevin Costner kept reminding us. “Back and to the left. Back and to the left.  That was one magic bullet.”  If the magic bullet itself has to work so hard to be magic, what makes you think there are any shortcuts for you.

Every project is another opportunity to advance your skill set.  It’s never a breakthrough in and of itself.  Your success is not just out of reach.  It’s happening right now.  Success is the never ending process of realizing there is no magic bullet. This project leads to the next project.  One challenge leads to another, so learn to take joy in the process of moving challenge to challenge. Do the best you can, find your way to the next one, and the next and the next.

Relationships are not any different.  You are finding the way to the next moment. But, what moment are you finding your way to?  Are you sculpting the moments or are you just watching them arrive and pass?

Since there is no such thing as a magic bullet, overnight success, perfect relationships, what are we to do to move things forward in our careers and life? The idea of creating conscious value.  If you ask yourself in any situation, job, task, relationship, am I creating value now?  The simple act of asking the question puts you much farther ahead than looking for a magic bullet.

You see, looking for the magic bullet is the act of looking for the world around you to bring something to you that will solve all your problems.  But remember, a bullet’s trajectory, no matter how magic, will eventually succumb to gravity and end up in the dirt.

Unknown-2Creating value is the act of bringing something to the world around you which is a far more powerful position. For to create value is to break through the challenges and the transience for one shining moment of clarity and success.  String together many moments of creating value and you will create a life well lived.

 

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The Scariest Hill On Earth

Ellsworth Road, just mentioning the vast peak out loud brings back adrenaline fueled thrills and nightmares from my youth. It was named after Connecticut’s own Oliver Ellsworth (one of the writers of the US Constitution.) and the state’s first US Senator. This hill, for it was just that, although in my kid eyes it was impossibly large one, and the only one around,  so it might as well have been Pike’s Peak.  We would ride our bikes down in the summer and sled down in the winter before the plows came.  The evil part of this hill was this:  though the top of the hill was the end of the road in the middle of the neighborhood, meaning there was hardly any traffic on it, at the bottom there was a cross street named Riggs. There was no stop sign as it crossed Ellsworth, so cars coming through the neighborhood just barreled on by.  Riding your bike at top speed down the hill, as you approached Riggs, you had a choice:  try to be sure nothing is coming and charge through or hit the brakes and be safe.

More than once I laid down rubber on my bad ass Stingray banana bike right before ending up as a hood ornament.  More than once, my heart jumped into my throat.  Most memorably, the time a tough older kid named Dennis made me ride down on a skateboard.  Me, lying facedown on my belly, my nose inches above the pavement, and him on my back.  That time I forgot about the traffic, wondering how I was going to explain to my mother how my face got ripped off on Ellsworth Road.  But, I somehow survived that descent and many others.

Chief among our games on Ellsworth was to see how far you could coast without pedaling after crossing the dreaded Riggs.  We’d station a kid on the corner to make sure we could race through the intersection without braking. Then the rule was no pedaling, whoever went the farthest won.  As I was thinking about this week’s post, I thought about this game once again.

Momentum.  It’s hard to get it going, and much harder to keep it going.  Especially without pedaling.  When things are going well, the wind hits your face, all you hear is the whoosh in your ears and all you feel is speed.  The farther you go, you slow down almost inperceptably by degrees.  Before you know it, you’re moving quite slowly and not long after you’ve stopped.

Careers are like this.  Especially freelance careers in media and entertainment.  When you have a success or a series of successes, it’s easy to think the rush will never stop and the pace will never lessen.  But it does.  It’s the nature of gravity, friction and distance.  I heard the motivational speaker Brian Tracy once say: “You can only coast in one direction.”  Oh, too true.  I never once coasted UP Ellsworth Road.

The idea is to keep pedaling, even when times are good.  Find ways to keep the momentum going, even when you think you’re going fast enough already.  This is difficult when you are in the heat of one project, to be thinking of the next one, but it’s absolutely necessary!  You have to keep pedaling!

In my career as an agent, I’ve had far too many clients come to me after years of constant work and say, “I used to have momentum, but now it’s slowing down.”  When I ask who they’ve been in contact with lately, they reply:  “I’ve been working for years, I haven’t had time to keep contacts up, so now I don’t really know anyone. I’ve been too busy.”

Do you see why you have to keep pedaling now?  It doesn’t matter whether you are just starting out or have been making money as an artist for 30 years.  You have to do the work of getting work constantly, everyday, and let’s be real, having a freelance job today only means you have to find one for tomorrow.

Here’s my challenge to you.  Make a list of everyone you know in the business.  Make a list of every producer, director, studio, gallery, ad agency that you want to get to know.  Don’t stop until you have reached 50 contacts on each list. Now, find a way to retain or regain contact with those you already know, and ways to make contact with those you want to know.  These lists are the bike. Now you need to pedal a little everyday.

I heard a while back that NASA is proposing to send a spaceship light years away. They are suggesting what is called a perpetual motion rocket engine to power the craft.  This engine will use small thrusts of fuel, fired at timed intervals.  A seconds long burst of thrust from a nuclear engine once every day.  The idea is that over time, all these short bursts add up and the ship is going very far and very fast. The ship never coasts, it’s propelling itself a little each day.

That is pretty much the concept I’m proposing to you.  A small burst of thrust everyday to create huge momentum to gain speed and distance for your career.  Start doing this today, because I can tell you from experience that if you stop pedaling on Ellsworth, you can only coast to halfway between Newport Avenue and Four Mile Road.

Quote Of The Day

The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.

-Brian Tracy