Moments of Conception 105 — The Pep Talk Scene from Swingers

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 pep talk scene in Swingers:

What can we learn?

Reduce anxiety by reorienting your focus. Managing anxiety is a slow, frustrating and circular process. It feels like all the work we do to become less stressed becomes the very thing that stresses us out even more. What kind of sick, twisted infinite regression is that? Fortunately, anxiety is what keeps us tuned into our circumstances. It serves a purpose because it allows us to focus our energy on the future. It’s a symptom, like the engine light on the dashboard, which illuminates to let us know that something is wrong with our engine. And the good news is, like most of our emotions, anxiety vanishes once spotted and labeled. Once we name it, we claim it. Once we love it, it can’t hurt us anymore. The anxiety we’re currently feeling starts to subside to the point of irrelevancy. Mike hasn’t figured this out yet. Rob, on the other hand, sees his friend slumped in a corner, slicing pepperoni with a pocket knife, knows the truth. That we always have a choice. We can design a way out of our anxiety, we can design a way of living with it, or we can wait it out and let it starve itself to death, trusting that eventually, anxiety will briefly let its guard down and allow happiness to take hold. Are you prepared to do whatever work is necessary to reduce your experience of anxiety?

Don’t scratch unless there’s really an itch. Commitment is more than just choosing, it’s bravely dealing with the consequences of your choices. Following yourself down the rabbit hole of yes. Taking responsibility for the life you’ve chosen. Not always looking for the closer parking spot, as I like to say. Mike relocated across the country to follow his dreams, which meant leaving past love behind. But now he regrets the decision he made. He’s become a slave to his own judgments. Instead of getting on with his new life comfortably, he’s plagued by doubt, wondering about what could have been a marginally better option. Creative people struggle with this all the time. We hold ourselves to a high standard, and yet, once our experience matches those standards, we don’t give ourselves permission to be satisfied with results. Schwartz famously dubbed this phenomenon the paradox of choice, whereby the ability to change our minds about a decision does nothing but set the stage for future anxiety and lower ultimate satisfaction. Because sometimes the best choice is the decision to stop choosing. Sometimes it’s smarter to put a stake in the ground before we get seduced into the stressful spiral of perpetual improvement. Are you focused on making the right choice or making the commitment to choosing?

You can’t fake momentum. It’s something you either have or you don’t. Think of it from a mechanical engineering standpoint. You need mass, meaning some form of creative output; multiplied by velocity, meaning some form of physical movement. Without those critical variables, all you’ve got is a pile of dirty clothes and a floor covered in orange juice containers. Mike is in desperate need of momentum, and that’s exactly why his friend stops by his house. Rob is there to give him hope and courage and a psychological pat on the back. To convince him to start adding energy to the system. To inspire him to move the story forward. Because that’s how momentum works. It’s built upon small, consistent victories. Of course, that’s not enough. You also need to keep momentum alive. One way of doing so is with a victory log, which is a visual record of progress that saturates your consciousness with victory. A strategy of surrounding yourself with concrete evidence of improvement that makes you more inclined to take further action. I use mine every day. How will you create more mass and velocity?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

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!


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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