People want to be told what to do because they are afraid (petrified) of figuring it out for themselves.
Consumers are not loyal to cheap commodities.
Imagine a stack of 400 quarters. Each quarter represents 250 years of human culture, and the entire stack signifies the 100,000 years we've had organized human tribes. Take the top quarter off the stack. This one quarter represents how many years our society has revolved around factories and jobs and the world as we see it. The other 399 coins stand for a very different view of commerce, economy, and culture. Our current view might be the new normal, but the old normal was around for a very long time.
The problem with meeting expectations is that it's not remarkable.
If you can, visualize the reluctant student, head on his shoulder slumped on the desk, chewing on a pencil. This is student as employee student as prisoner. The chances of great work or great learning occurring are zero. And so there's no transfer of positive emotion, no energy going back to the teacher or being spread to fellow students. The same posture afflicts fast-food workers, overworked attorneys and everyone in between. But imagine an artist in the same situation. He's barely restrained, chomping to get to work. He leans into the work, not away from it. His energy creates energy in those around him; his charisma turns into leadership. Art changes posture and posture changes innocent bystanders.
Art is about intent and communication, not substances. An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally
Art is the product of emotional labor. If it's easy and risk free, it's unlikely that it's art.
Most of all, art involves labor. Not the labor of lifting a brush or typing a sentence, but the emotional labor of doing something difficult, taking a risk and extending yourself. It's entirely possible that you're an artist.
Digital goods call our bluff. If you read my e-book, we both win. If you share it, so do your friends. Attention is precious, and if you're willing to trade your attention for my idea, we both thrive. But it goes far beyond that. When you give something away, you benefit more than the recipient does. The act of being generous makes you rich beyond measure, and as the goods or services spread through the community, everyone benefits. But that's a hard thing to start doing, because you've been taught that what's yours is yours.
If art is about humanity, and commerce has become about interactions (not stuff), then commerce is now about art, too.
The Myth of Project-Specific Passion In a pre-Internet world, where Amazon.com couldn't have existed, would Jeff Bezos be a nonpassionate lump? If Spike Lee hadn't found a camera, would he be sitting around, accepting the status quo? Passion isn't project-specific. It's people-specific. Some people are hooked on passion, deriving their sense of self from the act of being passionate. Perhaps your challenge isn't finding a better project or a better boss. Perhaps you need to get in touch with what it means to feel passionate. People with passion look for ways to make things happen. The combination of passion and art is what makes someone a linchpin.
Artists understand that they have the power, through gifts, innovation, and love, to create a new story, one that's better than the old one.
Passion is caring enough about your art that you will do almost anything to give it away, to make it a gift, to change people.
Deciding what to leave out and what to insist on is part of your art. One author I know is willing to watch his books sit unsold, because that's a better outcome to him than changing the essence of what he's written. He has passion for his craft, but no real passion for spreading his ideas. And if the ideas don't spread, if no gift is received, then there is no art, only effort. When an artist stops work before his art is received, his work is unfulfilled.
Why didn't you speak up at the meeting yesterday? When you chance to reach out and interact with a co-worker in a way that would have changed everything, what held you back? That proposal for a new project that's been sitting on your hard drive for a year Why aren't all waiters amazingly great at being waiters? I think it's fear, and I think we're even afraid to talk about this sort of fear. Fear of art. Of being laughed at. Of standing out and of standing for something. Now, though, the economy is forcing us to confront this fear. The economy is ruthlessly punishing the fearful, and increasing the benefits to the few who are brave enough to create art and generous enough to give it away.
The Daemon and the Resistance Your mind, the thing that drives you crazy and makes you special, has two distinct sections, the daemon and the resistance. The daemon is the source of great ideas, groundbreaking insights, generosity, love, connection, and kindness. The resistance spends all its time insulating the world from our daemon. The resistance lives inside the lizard brain.
Society pushes artists to be geniuses, as opposed to encouraging artists to allow the genius within to flourish. Different tasks.
Pressfield says that the daemon's enemy is the resistance. Your lizard brain, the part that the daemon has no control over, is working overtime to get you to shut up, sit down, and do your (day) job. It will invent stories, illnesses, emergencies, and distractions in order to keep the genius bottled up. The resistance is afraid. Afraid of what will happen to you (and to it) if the ideas get out, if your gifts are received, if the magic happens.
The reason the resistance persists in slowing you down and prevents you from putting your heart and soul and art into your work is simple: you might fail.
Built to Ship The habit that successful artists have developed is simple: they thrash a lot at the start, because starting means that they are going to finish. Not maybe, not probably, but going to.
Actor John Goodman was interviewed about his role in Waiting for Godot. He had planned to spend the spring fishing and watching TV with his family in New Orleans, and he was prepared to turn the gig down. Here's his take on challenging the resistance.
This is my twelfth book since 1999. When I started my career, I was a book packager. My staff and I created more than a hundred titles, working with various publishers. After that, I started and sold an Internet company and then started a blog, gave some speeches, and started another Internet company. way Am I some sort of prodigy? I don't think so. I ship. I don't get in the of the muse, I fight the resistance, and I ship. I do this by not doing an enormous number of tasks that are perfect stalling devices, ideal ways of introducing the resistance into our lives.
By forcing myself to do absolutely no busywork tasks in between bouts with the work, I remove the best excuse the resistance has. I can't avoid the work because I am not distracting myself with anything but the work. This is the hallmark of a productive artist. I don't go to meetings. I don't write memos. I don't have a staff. I don't commute. The goal is to strip away anything that looks productive but doesn't involve shipping. It takes crazy discipline to do nothing between projects. It means that you have to face a blank wall and you can't look busy. It means you are alone with your thoughts, and it means that a new project, perhaps a great project, will appear pretty soon, because your restless energy can't permit you to only sit and do nothing.
Leo Babauta's brilliant little book Zen Habits helps you think your way through this problem. His program is simple: Attempt to create only one significant work a year. Break that into smaller projects, and every day, find three tasks to accomplish that will help you complete a project. And do only that during your working hours. I'm talking about an hour a day to complete a mammoth work of art, whatever sort of art you have in mind. That hour a day might not be fun, but it's probably a lot more productive than the ten hours you spend now
As soon as it is part of a system, it's not art.