The evidence is supplied by your own sense

Rogers famously wrote that the most fundamental condition of creativity is that the locus of evaluative judgment is internal. He believed that the value of the product is, for the creative person, established not by the praise or criticism of others, but by himself. 

The artist asks, have I created something satisfying to me? Does it express a part of my own feeling, thought, pain or ecstasy? To psychologically healthy individuals, those are the only questions that matter. Because they’re driven more by inner necessity than social expectation. 

And so, if you’re tired of competing and comparing and measuring your work against everybody else, consider shifting your locus of evaluative judgment from external to internal. Rogers actually developed a series of mantras, unintentionally, it seems, for this very transformation. I’ve used them for years. In his book on becoming a person, he counsels his patients to recite the following affirmations. 



I am the center of my valuing process. I am the source towards which I substantiate my values. I am connected to the ground of my own being. I am trusting of myself as the primary source of evidence. 

If that’s the story you start telling yourself, it won’t be long before the evidence of your worth will be supplied by your own sense. And not to imply complete independence from other people. Everyone still wants to be liked. And loved. And appreciated. And heard. And seen. 

But remember, humans have a tendency to exaggerate the importance of other people’s acceptance. In the end, identity is an inside job. 

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That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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The limits of our language are the limits of our world

For years I struggled with anxiety, stress and other manifestations of the threat of imminent nonbeing, aka, meaninglessness. 

But I never had any names for those feelings. I didn’t have labels that permitted me to communicate with myself and others about my emotions. I didn’t possess a robust vocabulary to help me make sense of the otherwise ambiguous world of inner turmoil. 

And so, the inner turmoil continued to mount. Because I didn’t have language as the handle with which to grasp my experience of anxiety. 

Slowly, though, I learned how to name things. I started developing the capacity within myself to manufacture the very commodity I was constantly chasing. And I began announcing to myself that I was the sole arbiter of meaning in my life. That way, anytime waves of meaninglessness came crashing in, I knew exactly how to describe them. 

What’s more, I knew exactly how to ride them. Because I had a tool for forming experiences into communicable meaning for myself. And that’s the strange thing about anxiety. Like most things in life, once you name it, you claim it. Names make the invisible visible. When you give language to something, you access a significant source of power previously unavailable to you. 

Because with a name, you can manage it, measure it, conceptualize it, talk to yourself about it, talk to others about it, interact around it, arrive at an understanding about, and if need be, alter or eliminate it. 

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How might the skill of naming redirect your narrative into a more meaningful direction?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

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Taking the poison and waiting for somebody else to die

My grandfather once said that meanest feeling of which any human being is capable is feeling bad at another’s success. 

It’s true. Bitter jealousy gets us nowhere. It’s like taking the poison and waiting for somebody else to die. 

What’s interesting is, there’s also a converse to that equation. Because the only thing more toxic than allowing the success of others to spark our resentment is allowing the failure of others to stimulate our inaction. Then both parties lose. Nobody learns anything. The world doesn’t move forward. 

And so, the goal is to respond to missteps with maturity. To replace resentment with responsibility. To fuel that frustration into our work. And to approach other people’s failures and mistakes and setbacks as a glowing source of inspiration for our own work, constantly asking ourselves what steps we have to take to avoid falling into the same traps. 

I have a colleague whose business is experiencing significant decline. To the point that she may have to get a second job to help pay the bills. When she first told me, I was terrified for her. It broke my heart to even have that conversation. Because I understand that the anxiety and shame and dread around that kind of situation is overwhelming. 

And yet, I was mindful of the undertow. I refused to view my colleague’s failure as the approximate shape of things to come. In fact, I used her story as a wakeup call. A bell of awareness whose reverberations motivated me to work even hard on my own company. 

The point is, it’s a matter of mindset. We can view the world as a multitude of forces conspiring to divide us against ourselves, or we can view the world as a continuous succession of extended hands hoping to help us along the journey.

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How are you using other people’s failures as fertilizer?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2016-2017.

Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!

Recruit your surroundings to achieve your purposes

Gandhi famously said we need to become the change we want to see in
the world. 

It’s an inspiring and eloquent theory for enabling progress.
Unfortunately, most people tremble at the prospect of personal transformation.
They only change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the cost to
change. 

And so, perhaps it’s easier and more efficient to change our
surroundings, not ourselves. To work from the outside in. To build in external
accountabilities to absorb the heavy lifting and minimize the expenditure of
our scarce mental resources. 

Crawford’s book on mind mastery explains that humans have become beset by outside
forces that destroy our focus and disrupt our peace of mind. And if we want to
get out of our heads and into the world, we should offload our thinking onto
our surroundings. That way, instead of routinely relying on our limited and
easily exhausted powers of concentration, we can encode things spatially in the
environment. 

For example, the best strategy I’ve employed in twenty years of
songwriting is using a classroom style rolling whiteboard for my lyric ideas.
It’s more than tripled my musical output. Because instead of racking my brain
trying to pull the perfect lyric out of the blue, I simply scan the whiteboard.
I look for what wants to be written. I outsource the heavy lifting to my
surroundings. 

This process reduces and externalizes my mental work in the
arrangement of physical space, scaffolding my abilities with environmental
props and technologies. And it makes the experience of writing songs more
relaxing, more fun, more prolific and more physically interactive. 

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2016-2017.

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Keep the oxygen of optimism continually in the process

Momentum is hard to build and easy to lose. 

Especially when you’re the sole employee. You’re an ocean under a fickle moon. Even the slightest whiff of meaninglessness can derail your progress and deflate your enthusiasm. And since there are no bosses and coworkers around to hold your feet to the fire, getting that train back on track can feel overwhelming. 

My first concert documentary took about two years to make. Which wasn’t a long cycle in the film world, but to me, it felt like an eternity. Because every other project I’d ever worked on took less than a year. 

And so, at every stage of production, I made a conscious effort to keep the oxygen of optimism continually in the process. I kept reminding myself why I was making a movie in the first place. I kept assuring myself that the result would be worth more than the slog. I kept surrounding myself with inspiring art to keep the flame of inspiration burning. I kept accumulating a series of small, but vital, successes, one after the other. And I kept rewarding myself for every milestone along the way. 

As my wife likes to say, keep adding energy to the system, keep moving the story forward. 

Do what you have to do to feel the you need to feel. Because if something is successful in giving you meaning and purpose and energy, there is no failure. 

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How will you distance the hounds of stagnation from nipping at your heels?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2016-2017.

Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!

A temporary world where you can act with total commitment

It’s no surprise that people are terrified of commitment. 

Taking the plunge implies vulnerability, loss of control, risk of failure and the death of other choices. What not to dislike? 

But the one thing nobody tells us is, commitment is the most underrated success strategy on the planet. And the other thing nobody tells us is, any form of total commitment, no matter how big or small, raises the stakes tremendously. Because the mindset and the posture required to commit creates a gravitational field that draws good things towards you. 

And so, regardless of where we are in the journey, it’s always valuable to train that muscle. 

Mihaly’s book on the psychology of optimal experience offers a brilliant suggestion. He encourages his students to create a temporary world where they can act with total commitment. A genuine venue with a low threat level that allows them to take calculated risks. A real life, real time experience that gets that commitment muscle quivering and veiny and oiled up. 

I have a friend who dreamed of starting his own restaurant. But he didn’t have the time, money or energy to do it. And so, he applied to sell his shrimp bisque at the local farmer’s market. The fee was nominal, the time investment was minimal, and the overall experience was meaningful. There was zero downside. Selling at the market gave him a sense of what it would feel like to start his own restaurant, albeit on a smaller scale. 

Just a taste of full commitment to raise the stakes tremendously. 

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How could you create a temporary world where you can act with total commitment?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2016-2017.

Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!

Seek efficiency with things, not people

What do you see when you see people? 

That’s the fundamental question of human interaction. And the way you answer it colors every relationship you have with others. 

I have a programmer friend who’s a master at efficiency. His ability to execute a specific outcome with a minimum amount or quantity of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort is unparalleled. 

But he’s not exactly a people person. Shocking, I know. But to him, every interaction is a binary construct. Black or white, one or zero, true or false. And that’s fine for the world of engineering, but human beings require a few more keystrokes. There’s no shortcut for empathy. Our goal should be to seek efficiency with things, not people. Otherwise we rob each other of the basic humanity that makes the world work.

I recently read an amazing but terrifying story about a new app that gives managers early warning so they can take action before employees jump ship. Corporate data crunchers play with dozens of factors, which may include job tenure, geography, performance reviews, employee surveys, communication patterns and even personality tests to identify flight risks, aka, people who are likely to leave. 

The data reveal a complex picture of what motivates workers to stay, and what causes them to look elsewhere. And the program ultimately assigns employees with individual retention predictor numbers, similar to a credit score, to indicate the likelihood that a worker will leave. 

It’s truly an amazing piece of technology. Except for one problem. If the only reason human resources is coming to talk to employees is because an algorithm told them to, the human race has officially jumped the shark. We’re finished. 

The point is, there’s system for human interaction. Nobody has a simple interpersonal solution that can be followed step by step to a satisfying conclusion. It’s a matter of awareness and thoughtfulness and intention and attention. And it all goes back to that question.

What do you see when you see people? 

Once we learn to find answers that err on the side of humanity, not efficiency, once we start treating each other as a real people with feelings and dreams and flaws and ideas, the complexion of our communication will shift forever. 

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2016-2017.

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We’re not in the market for creative visionaries

I once applied for twelve hundred jobs in five months. And I was rejected from every single one of them. 

It was a fascinating social experiment. Because after the endless onslaught of phone calls, interviews, meetings, video chats, job fairs, aptitude tests and writing assignments, I learned a valuable lesson about modern business. 

Corporations operate like cars. 

Think about it. The average automobile has thousands of parts. But it only needs one driver. Anything more would be redundant. And so, if a candidate shows up to an interview hoping to convince the hiring manager that she’s anything other than one of those thousand parts, she’s in for a world of disappointment. 

Because companies don’t need more drivers. They’re not in the market for creative visionaries. 

Even if the job application claims they’re seeking passionate, ambitious, innovative thinkers. They don’t want any of those things. 

Just parts. Cheap, generic, replaceable components, that do one thing, over and over, exactly the way the manual says. That’s how the system works. In the organization, the individual is the instrument, not the purpose. 

Carlin actually predicted this trend years ago. He joked that companies don’t want a population capable of critical thinking, they want obedient worker bees. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept lower pay, longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect. 

Except he wasn’t telling a joke, he was telling the truth. Companies are capitalist systems. Employers don’t want to hire you, they just want to hire someone. And once you’re aboard their ship, they won’t hesitate to fire you at the drop of a hat for any reason that fits their business needs. 

If you’re okay with that, awesome. And if you’re not, perhaps hiring yourself would be a safer path. 

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Are you trying to drive a car that doesn’t need another driver?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2016-2017.

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You’ve got to be stronger than the story

Humans have a natural aversion to completion. 

We don’t like when things end. Endings represent loss and change and death and dying and saying goodbye. What’s more, if we stop, that means we have to start over. And starting over is hard. 

And so, instead of erring on the side of completion, instead choosing to call the work done, we leave the door open. Our projects suffer from a lack of follow through. And the story we tell ourselves is that we’re taking our time. We’re working slowly. We’re approaching the creative process as a fluid, continuous experience. 

But that’s a lie. It’s subterfuge. It’s a convenient excuse to justify our inability to finish our projects. 

I’m reminded of a groundbreaking study from the twenties about the cognitive availability of regrettable actions and inactions. Zeigarnik’s research found that unfinished tasks enjoyed in memory a special advantage over those that have been completed. She learned, not surprisingly, that people regret the things they don’t do more than the things they do. In fact, her experiments reported that unfinished tasks were remembered approximately twice as well as completed ones. 

Meanwhile, people still choose not to finish. The story they tell themselves about completion is stronger than the brain’s desire to close that open loop. And as a result, projects get abandoned, shelved, or worse yet, worked on forever. 

Woody famously said that eighty percent of life is showing up. And maybe that’s true. But we do ourselves a disservice when overlook the value of following through. 

Be stronger than the story. View finishing as a form of commitment. Because you can’t build a body of work solely around piecemeal. 

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Are you willing to err on the side of completion?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2016-2017.

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Moments of Conception 204: The Escape Scene from Shawshank Redemption

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

Based on my books in The Prolific Series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the escape scene in Shawshank Redemption:




Fortune favors the bold, but it
frequents the consistent.
Andy toted his jail cell wall out into the exercise yard a handful at a
time. Which wasn’t much initially, but you have remember, he was a banker. An
incrementalist. A man who understood the power of compound interest, the capacity to generate more and more
value over time through slow, unsexy, but consistent increments. In a way, he
was building his own body of work. Based on his daily practice of patience,
delayed gratification and continuity, his art was cutting enough rock to crawl
his way to redemption. Proving, that whatever tunnel to freedom you’re digging,
the smartest way to do it is one spoonful at a time. Think of it as
inconspicuous production. You distribute your effort into small, consistent,
doable chunks. And after many, many, many hours of incremental work, you find
yourself on the other side of the wall. It’s certainly not the sexiest or
easiest path to success. Especially
in a society that promotes and rewards indulgence and convenience. But one
thing’s for sure. There is no skill more underrated than the capacity for
delayed gratification. That’s what sets people free. That’s what makes it
possible for them to aspire to goals that others would disregard. Besides, patience
is a litmus test for vision. If it’s truly your dream, you’re willing to wait
for it. When was the last time you
contributed to your reserve of patience?

Paint yourself into an accountable
corner.
Red explains
says that geology is the study of pressure and time. In prison, that’s all it
takes really. Pressure and time. That, and a big goddamn poster. The question,
then, is how can you create similar elements of pressure in your own work? Simple. Paint yourself into an
accountable corner. Find a way to increase your commitment by creating
unacceptable consequences of failing. At my yoga studio, we offer students a
monthly direct debit program. Meaning, regardless of how many times a week they
practice, the same amount is withdrawn from their account each month. That’s
pressure. The payment plan paints students into an accountable corner. Because
when they’re sitting at home, debating whether or not they should schlep their
lazy bones over to the studio, they remember that they’re paying for the yoga
no matter what. May as well get their money’s worth and get their bodies into
shape at the same time. The point is, sometimes you have to trick your own
brain. Damocles used a dangling sword of obligation to demonstrate the
precariousness of a king’s fortunes, and there’s no reason our work should be
any different.
Whatever
it takes to create ambient pressure. Why is failing not an option for you?

There are no locks on the prison
doors.
I once read
an article
about a real life prison break in which two inmates used photos of bikini clad
women to conceal their escape tunnels. Similar to the film, they used scrap
metal tools to remove cinderblocks from the wall and crushed them so the rocks
could be hidden in the cells. And as they worked, they strategically laid out
pillows and sheets to make it look like the men were asleep in their beds. Of
course, once the men escaped, the prison officially barred inmates from pinning
up pictures from magazines on their cell walls. This story inspires me. It
restores my faith in the ingenuity of the modern man. And it proves that
everyone, even convicted felons, can tap into their wells of creativity and
resourcefulness to achieve great things. Pharrell, the ultimate polymath, made
a great observation about this subject. In a compelling interview
about his creative process, he said that there’s a key for every door,
and if you can’t find it, you can make one. That’s the beauty of prison.
It’s the ultimate constraint. Inmates have no choice but to find their own
doors and make their own keys. Maybe we all need to be locked up for a little
while.
What creative resources are right in front of
you?

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What did you learn from this movie clip?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2016-2017.

Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!

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