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.
And so, in this new blog 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 classroom scene in Twenty One:
What can we learn?
The product of
picking a good system. I love this movie because it’s not about luck, it’s
about math. That’s why every artist should watch it. Because luck, more often
than not, is simply a matter of volume. Basic probability. For example, if you
pick from a bag that has forty red marbles and eighty blue marbles, which color
are you more likely choice? Blue.
Because there are twice as many. And so, the goal for creators is to build a
system that increases our number of blue marbles. To pursue a conscious
strategy that makes it easier for luck to find us. Jonathan Mann creates and publishes a new song and video each
day. He’s been doing this for years. And due to his vast quantity of material
and speed of composition, he’s built a massive body of work, earned critical
acclaim and secured his career as a working professional songwriter. That’s not
luck, that’s volume. In his career, each song is another blue marble. Mann has
anchored what he creates to probability. His success is a product of
picking a good system and following it until luck finds him. It’s an inspiring
reminder that our economy rewards generosity. That there is no gift if there is
no art. And that giving the first creation away makes the second one possible. If you work that way, there’s no need
to gamble. Have you chosen a system that
vastly increases your odds of getting lucky?
Artists tends to be emotional, impulsive creatures with a hypersensitive
relationship to the world and a penchant for exaggeration and drama. But as the
professor explains, if you don’t know which door to open, it’s best to keep
emotions aside and let simple math get your ass into a brand new car. Our version of simple math, then, is getting our units up. When in doubt, create.
Because on the neverending list of things to do, creating more real work,
executing more actual product and shipping more lasting value, in the unique
way that only we can deliver, is always the our best bet. Again, simple
probability. If we want to be in the right place at the right time, we need to
be in a lot of places. Consistency plus volume. It’s the only surefire path to
creating a market wide hunger for our work. Even if we aren’t necessarily
creating all day, as long as we’re
creating everyday, art won’t take as long to pay for itself as we originally
thought. Conroy once wrote that he used books
as instruments to force his way into the world. Perhaps each creator needs
their own version of that to let the best have a real chance at them. When you don’t know which creative door to
open, what’s your default strategy?
Mentoring is the real
jackpot. Ben solved the statistics problem flawlessly. Then again, it could
have been a fluke. One answer does not a genius make. So the professor
investigates further. And after noticing a stunningly high score on his latest
term paper, he connects the dots. He’s found a winner. His next card counting
superstar. And so, he coaxes him into join his blackjack team. And the rest is
history. What’s interesting is, Ben’s character was based on a real student. A kid whose extracurricular gambling antics
afforded him the opportunity to launch several startups, develop an engineering
software product and work as a consultant to professional sports teams. All
because the professor saw something in him. That’s another form of luck.
Finding mentors at a time in your life when you’re capable of listening.
Encountering guides that give you new contexts from which to relate to the
world. Of course, it’s not entirely luck. There has to be something about you
that will allow great mentoring to happen. If you
were starting your career over again, in what area would you want more
* * * *
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.
Now booking for 2014-2015.
Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!