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 Latimer scene from The Program:
Allow yourself to get carried away by your enthusiasm. Everyone is the same everywhere. We’re all just stumbling through the dark, searching for something to pour ourselves into. And so, when that thing we find provides us with the existential spark, there’s no stopping us. Because meaning and significance are a unique source of energy. Forget about getting enough sleep and eating enough carbs. Once we find something to meet our meaning needs, we’re off and running. Rooted in the things that move us, ready to take on the world. Lattimer played on the punt return team for the first three years of his college career, but this year, he intended to start. And so, he spent his summer in the gym. And after gaining thirty five pounds since last fall and shining during in tryouts, he has finally earned himself a place at the table. It’s such a perfect moment. This movie came out when we were playing high school football, and my friends and I would watch it after long, hot days of practice. And although we never smashed our heads through car windows, we still allowed ourselves to get carried away by our enthusiasm. When the weekly depth charts were posted on the locker room doors, we weren’t afraid to hoot and holler and run down the hall and jump for joy. Because that was the type of enthusiasm we needed on the field. I may not have been fast or strong, but I certainly knew how to celebrate, and how to infect the people around me with that same energy. Whatever it took to feel that our story was headed somewhere. Do passion and enthusiasm characterize all of your encounters?
Not everything is its own reward. Rewarding yourself is an essential celebratory experience that increases motivation and builds momentum. It can actually become a form of loving yourself, when done in a healthy, legal manner that doesn’t involve other people’s car windows. But it won’t make the journey any less challenging. Laying a reward system over an existing experience doesn’t make us like it any better, but certainly encourages us to tolerate it. Because we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Adams explains that by putting the pleasure of reward at the immediate end of a task, we develop a strong association between the task and the good feelings, and that forms a habit. The goal is to get creative with our rewards. To make them personal and meaningful and pleasant. For example, whenever I finish playing a concert, I reward myself with a long, hot shower and lunch at my favorite restaurant. Whenever I make a sale, I reward myself by ringing the hotel call bell on my desk and cheering aloud. Whenever I book a new client, I reward myself by booking a full body massage. Whenever I come home from a productive business trip, I reward myself by sleeping late the next day. And whenever I hit my daily writing quota, I reward myself by checking email without feeling guilty. The point is, not everything is its own reward. If we’re going slog through the reality, we deserve something a little extra at the end. What reward system do you have for yourself?
Become fully aware of your entire horizon. Lattimer’s downfall, besides illegal doping, was his expectation. He surrendered all his power to one person to make or break his life. He relied on the coach’s whims to choose the success or failure of his athletic endeavor. A smarter move would have been to empty himself of expectation. To diversify his portfolio of happiness. To expand his repertoire of meaning. That way, if the coach did decide to make an omelet out of all the eggs in his football basket, his path wouldn’t be completely derailed. He’d still have other pursuits and endeavors and activities to engage with. Unfortunately, he never built that existential muscle. He never developed a shield against meaninglessness. And so, when he fails the drug test and gets kicked off the team, he’s completely devastated. Life, as he knows it, is over. Because he clung to his gift too tightly. He threw his heart into something, but let that one thing become all that he stood for. It’s a reminder to us all to maintain a diverse portfolio of happiness. One that builds emotional stability in any situation, helps manage risks we can’t control and weathers droughts through the many seasons of life. Are you giving one person, place or thing the power to make or break your life?
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