May 15

7 Commandments of the Unmistakable Creative

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In his book This is Marketing, Seth Godin encourages people to "Begin by choosing people based on what they dream of, believe, and want, not based on what they look like. As I sat and reflected on the themes woven throughout the podcasts and all of my work a set of principles emerged.

If we were a country it would be our constitution. If we were a cult it would be whatever cults use to indoctrinate their members. We're not a county or a religion, but I somehow landed on the 7 commandments of the Unmistakable Creative. Or to sum it all up "this is what people like us believe."

These 7 commandments can make you powerful, resourceful and resilient. I hope they help you as much as they've helped me.

1. Reality is Malleable

There was a time when you didn't know how to walk. But by falling and getting back up over and over, you learned to walk. In that moment, you had a new a reality. With that came new possibilities.

  • When you decorate your house or deliberately design your environment, you're shaping reality. You ALWAYS have the power to shape some part of your reality.
  • Every time you learn something you didn't know before or develop a new habit you bend reality. You shape the world around you to your own liking.

But most people don't change the ring on their iPhone. They don't change the default settings on the apps they use. They don't change shower heads in their apartments.

When you accept somebody else's preference for your reality, you end up doing life by default instead of by design.

2. Your Resources are Limited, but Your Imagination and Creativity Are Not

More often than not, startups with limited resources disrupt companies with an abundance of them.

Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry because Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia had to pay rent. Why didn't somebody in the hotel industry come up with this idea? They didn't have to. They weren't resource constrained.

When you're resource constrained, you're forced to use your imagination. You learn something far more valuable than having resources. You become resourceful. There's always an upper limit to your resources. But, there are no limits to resourcefulness.

We live in one of the greatest times in history for creatives. We have almost free access to tools, resources, and distribution channels.

You can build a web site for a few dollars a month with a tool like Sqaurespace. You can set up an online store with Shopify

Through books, podcasts, and free classes at universities you can give yourself an education that kicked the crap out of the one you got in school. You can figure out what you should have learned in school but never did.

You can write books, record music or start your own show with Amazon, itunes and Youtube. There are no gatekeepers. As Alexis Ohanian says, you can't do all this without their permission.

To top it off, the tools are getting easier to use.

The internet gives us access to a fountain of knowledge. You can use it to quench your thirst, become the next version of yourself, or use it flush your life down the toilet 140 characters at a time.

3. Your temporary Circumstances Don't have to Become Your Permanent Reality

Maybe your current circumstances are less than ideal. Being out of money is temporary circumstance. Becoming poor is permanent identity. Being heartbroken is a temporary circumstance. Being unlovable is a permanent identity. But the choice between the two is up to you. That choice will determine when you are informed or defined by your circumstances. It will determine whether you're a hero or a victim.

I had no idea that getting a book deal with a publisher and building a career in the arts would create conflict with people and lead to the end of friendships. My problems didn't vanish when I got a book deal or grew. They multiplied.

Everybody has problems. Even if you all have the money in the world, your life isn't going to be free of problems. Your problems don't go away. What changes is your capacity to to handle them.

Everything that sucks about your life is temporary should you choose to see it that way.

4. The Status Quo is Meant to be Challenged

Nobody has ever changed anything by doing something because that's the way it's always been done. When we question and challenge authority, innovation and creativity flourish. Consensus and committee is where remarkable ideas go to die.

For many years, Google had a status quo. If you wanted to be an Associate program manager at the company, you had to have a computer science degree. No exceptions.

A young Stanford grad who was showing early signs of great potential wanted that job. But he didn't have a computer science degree. He left Google and started a company called Instagram. Defending the status quo cost them a billion dollars.

But when you challenge the status quo, you'll be met with resistance. People will question your sanity and write you off as a misfit.

5. Adversity leads to Growth

Nobody gets through this life without taking a few blows. It's the price you pay for being a spectator instead of a participant in your life. Gifts from the universe usually comes disguised a punches to the face.

But we learn far more from our failures and fuck ups than we do from success. Success can delude us into overlooking the role that luck played in our accomplishments.

As I wrote in one of my books, the some of most powerful chapters of your life's work, will come from some of the most painful experiences of your life.

6. Only Is better Than Best

The mimicry epidemic is alive and well. Everybody and their mother is starting a podcast. The world is filled with people who want to become the next Oprah, Beyonce or Steve Jobs. But what people don't see is that mimicry is a recipe for obscurity. It turns you art into a commodity and your work into a soul-sucking obligation instead of a soul-feeding privilege.

"The only thing you learn by following the herd is that the view never changes. You never learn how to express your truth or beauty and you never find out the power therein. You never get to know what you are capable of" - Jame Victore.

When nobody does what you do in the way that you do it, your competition becomes irrelevant. You're not the best, you're the only. That's how you become Unmistakable.

7. What you create for An Audience of One is much more likely to reach an audience of millions.

Every expression of your creativity should be an expression of your values. Make sure you're proud to put your signature on everything you create. When you water down your work to cater to a critic or reach the largest possible audience, you suck the resonance out of it.

You can't make art that hits people in the face with a crowbar if you're afraid of rocking the boat. At least once a week somebody unsubscribes from our podcast because a guest pisses them off or they don't like me.

You can spend your energy trying to appease your critics. Or you can spend it making more art for your small army of fanatics. The path of the least resistance is to be an anonymous critic. The path of most reward is to be a prolific creator, even if it's just for An Audience of One.


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