Moments of Conception 139 — The Clock Scene from Hugo

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 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 clock scene from Hugo:

What can we learn?

Begin with a single moment of commitment. Commitment is the most misunderstood strategy on the planet. It’s the simplest tool for increasing productivity and fastest way to open the door to creativity. The problem is, committing to something, choosing to go all in on your dream, provokes anxiety. As my creativity coach explains, if we’re not aware of this dynamic, we will avoid our work or leave it too soon so as to avoid the anxiety brought on by choosing. Making the right choice, he says, doesn’t matter as much as making the commitment to choosing. That’s the skill. That’s the muscle we have to strengthen. I’m reminded of a thrilling novel I read about a gifted surgeon. The doctor could look at a situation and see the end points of a dozen possible choices in the blink of an eye, and then from instinct, choose rightly. He said he couldn’t always explain his choices, but they were almost inevitably correct, even if not in the objective sense. He said that simply making a choice, any choice, and following through with absolute commitment, is what made it the right choice. And what’s interesting is, once you commit yourself, the world reverberates with the sound of your purpose. Proving, that the commitment with the greatest consequence is the one you fail to make. Where are you talking yourself out of commitment?

Waiver not in your purpose. Hugo loves how machines do what they’re meant to do. That’s why broken machines make him so sad. Because they can’t do what they’re meant to do. People are the same way, he says. When they lose their purpose, it’s like they’re broken. And the only way to get fixed is to realize that they’re an essential part of a finely tuned machine. That’s what touched me most about this movie. It explores the existential longing for purpose through the simple metaphor of a clock. It shows us that a deep source of energy and motivation comes from passion and purpose. And it reminds us what’s possible once we discover our rightful work in the human family. But it also warns us that, unlike a clock, purpose isn’t necessarily a task. It’s the way we live our life. It’s what our existence is committed to. It’s the result of uniting all of our inner elements. Because each of our daily acts make statement to our purpose. Everything we are and everything we do helps make the big machine run. What is essential to your sense of being on purpose?

Purpose shouldn’t be a positioning strategy. Few things are more meaningful in life than the fulfillment of human purpose. But once it gets bastardized into strategy, once institutions start piggybacking their products on top of some invented purpose as their competitive advantage, the work starts to smell foul. That’s the problem. Everyone seems to be jumping onto the purpose bandwagon to peddle their wares. And the general public is starting to become skeptical. When the reality is, not everyone has to start a movement. Not every work of art has to effect social change. Sometimes a clock is just a clock, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. If anything, this movie reminds us that purpose doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be meaningful. In fact, consider the various parts of the clock. It’s made of wheels, drums, pendulums, levers, sprockets, screws, ratchets, hooks and pins. There’s nothing contrived about that. It didn’t come from a committee in a boardroom. It’s just nature. Simple functionality. Utility. That’s more purposeful than any of the slick advertisements you see on television. Are you starting a movement, or just giving your work a that title to sound like one?


What did you learn from this movie clip?


For a copy of the list called, “11 Things to Stop Wasting Your Time On,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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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.

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


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