Dreams accrue, really

The best dreams are impossible dreams that come true.

There’s something to be said for a dream that is really just the next step of your evolution. Like getting a promotion.

Those are nice — the raise or the next step up the ladder — and not to be discounted.

But the dreams that seemed improbable at best when first hatched — then came to fruition — those are the ones that galvanize you. Those are the ones that make you believe.

What you see above is the image of a van I wanted but was out of reach. So far out of our reach as to feel a cruel dream.

In the grand tradition of special ops, I gave it an acronym nickname. The Mofave:

Mobile Office, Family Adventure Vehicle

Before I came across this image in a pamphlet, I fantasized about this vehicle. I dreamt it up when we were only months from bankruptcy. When financial ruin didn’t loom but was actually a constant moment-to-moment hellbird perched on my shoulder cawing at me.

(We never went bankrupt 🙂

(We muggled through till we caught a magic wind.)

Here’s a photo of the now-real Mofave on our recent month-long art trek around the U.S. This workcation for me and the family was the second such annual trip.

I’m guessing it was three to five years from the time I first imagined it till we were driving it.

Some improbable dreams take longer. Some take wing so quickly you are left in hushed awe. Others take their sweet time.

A note about improbable dreams

Let me hasten to add that our real dreams are about vitality, relationships, creative breakthroughs, achievement. In essence they are about experience . . . they are about what we wish to live.

Only impoverished souls dream solely of money and material things.

Our most improbable dreams speak to the adventure we hope to live.

I tell this Mofave story as a note to remind myself — and maybe you too — that if you hold onto a vision, it finds its way to you. You find your way to it.

Dreams accrue, they really do. Don’t let yours go.

For you 

Evan Griffith
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. Once a month, maybe.

Want to spark your creative best? Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


What Google learned about teamwork applies to you

When Google wanted to find out what made teams effective, Project Aristotle was born. Over 150 interview hours were conducted with Google employees to discern the key elements that made for a good team — and when lacking, made for a team that fell apart.
What applies to teams, you’ll see, applies to you and me individually. What you need for yourself is the same thing others require from you when you collaborate:

“There’s a myth we all carry inside our head,” Bock said. 

“We think we need superstars. But that’s not what our research found. You can take a team of average performers, and if you teach them to interact the right way, they’ll do things no superstar could ever accomplish. 

“And there’s other myths, like sales teams should be run differently than engineering teams, or the best teams need to achieve consensus around everything, or high-performing teams need a high volume of work to stay engaged, or teams need to be physically located together. 

“But now we can say those aren’t right. The data shows there’s a universality to how good teams succeed. It’s important that everyone on a team feels like they have a voice, but whether they actually get to vote on things or make decisions turns out not to matter much. Neither does the volume of work or physical co-location. What matters is having a voice and social sensitivity.” 

Onstage, Bock brought up a series of slides. 

“What matters are five key norms,” he told the audience. 

Teams need to believe that their work is important. 

Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful. 

Teams need clear goals and defined roles. 

Team members need to know they can depend on one another. 

But, most important, teams need psychological safety.

The first three elements felt so significant they could easily have been transposed into three top principles required for personal growth.
  1. You need to feel that what you do is important. In work and in your personal life.
  2. You need to feel that what you do is meaningful.
  3. You need clear goals.

At first I skipped over the final two points as I translated these findings to how we work as individuals. 
Principle Number 4 of course only makes sense in the context of working with others: That you feel you can depend on one another.
But Principle Number 5, that you require psychological safety, was deemed most important. 
Yet I dismissed it when considering how that applies to we creators who are striving to make our marks individually.
Until it struck me that I am the only one who can provide psychological safety when engaging creatively.
We creators often sabotage our sense of security with doubt. Or worse, internal slurs we’d never allow another to utter to us.
You’re not up to this.

You suck.

Who are you kidding, you’ve never accomplished anything of this magnitude, why even try?
Psychological safety. 
For a creator, it’s a free and unfettered mind.
There’s a placid center we can tap to dispel corrosive thoughts. Meditation plays this role for many, me included. 
But sometimes it’s as simple as denying the thought. That’s not true, you say to yourself.
I don’t believe it, you say to your thought.
No, you suck! You think back as you stick your (mental) tongue out at that thought flashing by.
Have you ever tried talking back to your own thoughts?
You will convulse laughing after a short while. 
Try it. 
Talk back to your subpar thoughts. Sneer at them, if you must. Or treat them with gentle admonishment: Oh MiniMe, let MegaMe take over here
They’ll shape up, your thoughts. They’ll even join your counter argument after a little forceful back talk. 
Yeah, what was I thinking? You’re right, I can rock this.

Clarity, love energy and renewal

Me thinking thinky thoughts

This past year I published a bookito called Burn Baby Burn: Spark the Creative Spirit Within.

Coiled at the core of this tight little narrative are these three principles for creating something meaningful: 

  1. Be clear
  2. Express love energy
  3. Renew
You creators know this: You set out to create something . . . and it turns out to be bigger than you. Far bigger. In fact, something comes through you during the process . . . and teaches your little whelp of a mind a thing or two.
It could be a a poem, a song, a business, a book, an app, a relationship . . . whatever you thought you were creating grew so much more expansive than your dreams for it that eventually you bowed down to it and uttered, “Sensei.” 
This was the case with Burn Baby Burn. You could say that I thought it up . . . that I wrote it . . . but that would be only the merest of partial truths. A sliver of a fraction of a truth.
I set down the path and the path yielded phantasmagorical treasures I could never have anticipated.
Not only is there insight beyond my capacity in those pages, there is humor and freshness I don’t possess in real life.
It turns out I need clarity, love energy and renewal more than my readers. 
It turns out out that when I was fumbling my way recently, I simply had to heed the premise of that bookito: To turn the creative process into a spiritual practice.
In doing so, I’m finding my way back.
The really exciting part of this is the greater message. The one for you. 
Create something for others . . . and your creation will in turn bejewel your spirit in ways you can scarcely dream of.
Create for others . . . and enjoy the bounce back effect. 
Unless of course you’re creating strife or discord or mayhem or such. 
Then it ain’t pretty.

For you 

Evan Griffith

Click here for (occasional) notes for creators. Once a month, maybe.


An easy choice

Two themes are sweeping the nation. 

One is distrust. Fear and loathing on a visceral level. It’s taken over the political discourse. It’s gone national in scale. Global.
The other is impish spirit love. It’s been coming for generations. You see it in the texts and images floating by on your social media stream.
You can do it.

I can do it.

We’re all in this together.

We are one.

All you need is love . . . and spunk.
It’s an easy choice for me. 
The question is how do I embody this impish spirit love today? 
How do I show someone marginalized that I care? 
I’ll encounter dozens of people today. Do I look them in the eye with a twinkle? Or do I look away and sniff judgmentally?
It’s an easy choice.

The quiet power of looking at a thing sideways

An artist lives here
He probably looks at things sideways

This post from a couple of days ago ended with this thought: 

There’s real power in looking at a thing sideways

What does that mean?

We’re accustomed to looking at something straight on. We take obstacles at face value. 

Solutions often require a new pathway

When whales were being hunted to extinction for their blubber to fuel the economy of the time, the solution wasn’t to hunt more whales. It came from a viscous substance oozing from the deserts in the Middle East.

The solution to our carbon-polluted air won’t come from more gas and oil. It will come from other sources. It might be wind. It might be solar. It might be a resource we’re not even dreaming of yet.

Let’s say I’ve hit an impasse. Does that make my destination impossible? Hell no. 

But it might mean stepping off my path and forging a new one.

This is tough for me. I like my routines. I’m fond of the rhythm of my days. A new path means eliminating something or even most things I’d been doing. 

It’s thinking like a soul scientist. Experimenting in the direction of your joy . . . and noting the results.

Most emphatically it is not experimenting in the direction of your obstacle . . . Looking at a thing sideways is getting clear on where you want to be, and then improvising a new path there.

Not making enough money?

The temporary solution may be to work more hours. Sideways thinking would have you move off your path, just a little, and tweak from there

Despite the cultural ethos of hard work/working more hours, the highly successful have always figured out how to do things in fewer hours, with less effort.

That’s you. And that’s where I want to be. More effective because my focus softened enough to allow new possibilities into my paradigm.

There’s a new paradigm rising. It sounds a bit like the Tao. Where Taoists speak of effortlessness, we speak of inspired action. Which feels propulsive.

This propelling energy comes from the same root. Clarity. 

Becoming clear in your vision — even if it’s only for the next hour — releases extraordinary energy. And when you’re done you feel fulfilled, not depleted.

Clarity vibrates you to a new level. It puts you in tune with the infinite. Clarity is the opposite of rigidity. It compels fluidity. 

Once you’re clear about what you want, you can happily experiment your way there. 

Does it matter whether you go over the mountain or around it and through the forest on your way to the lake? 

It’s up to you. To me . . . . To get still and clear . . . and then improvise from there. 

(One interesting explorational step at a time.)

For you 

Evan Griffith
Click here for a creative soul update via email, once or twice a month.

Want to be at your creative best? Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


Be an artist in this moment

Years ago when I suddenly thought myself an artist my mind had never been so afire.

More than two decades ago I unexpectedly launched into painting. A trip to a famous art supply store on Canal Street in New York City was all it took. I came back with paint and brush and canvas. The cab was stuffed with tools of art.

My first painting was the silhouette of a man in a cage . . . the cage was composed of real-world chicken wire . . . The next painting featured a guy in a suit dancing himself free in the night. 

Soon after I quit my career on Wall Street and left The City . . . 

For a year or two I thought like an artist.

The Everglades shimmered to me in almost otherworldly subtle hues. To another eye it might seem a drab expanse. Not to my artist’s eye.

I recall being haunted by a dumpster against the mango-colored wall of a run-down Mexican restaurant. 

Light glancing off broken glass on the pavement could be hypnotic.

The sheen from an oily puddle at a service station stopped me in my tracks.

When you think like an artist, possibility abounds.

When chaos reigns, when things feel bleak, now I remind myself: 

Be an artist in this moment

I ask

What can I create?

The tools are no longer art paraphernalia. They are tools we all have. 

Imagination, experimentation, daring. 

And the quiet power of looking at a thing sideways . . . 

For you 

Evan Griffith
Click here for a creative soul update via email, once or twice a month.

Want to express love energy in your creative work? 
Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


Cheeky does it

This ad works. It makes you want to zoom in. Not for titillating reasons, you’ve already been titillated. Nope, you want to find out what it’s about.

Studio E Gallery is plop in the middle of a highly affluent area. Consequently every local high-end magazine wants to be on our counter. They air drop in by the dozens. Somebody seems to be coming by every other day with the latest round.

If you were to flip through these magazine pages you’d quickly assume the McKayla is not impressed stance. (If you’re not familiar with that meme, here’s a link explaining its origin.)

When extravagance overspills decadence on every page, your eyes glaze over like an aged donut.

It takes something original to get you to look further. Yes, sex is selling you a bit here. But it always is. No less in luxury mags. Which makes it easy to skip by quickly, even when alluring models are included.

This ad works because of idea conflation. Bringing together different concepts.

Let’s break down how they do it in this instance.

First they draw you in with the visual. That’s but a nanosecond for our overmarketed brains. 

It’s the tagline where it gets really cheeky. Where the adsters collide separate realms . . . floating the idea that it doesn’t really matter if you’re not the first . . . 

Really? What are they referring to? A car, a mansion, a lifestyle, a lover?

Now you have to look at the fine print. 

Boom. They’ve got you. They’re selling used exotic cars . . . And you nod your head at their cleverness. They made you look.

The best ideas come together from disparate elements. What can you conflate today?

For you 

Evan Griffith

What creators do

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Oh, and check out this little book about expressing love energy: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


For road warriors: A simple 10-minute roadside rejuvenation

Our mobile yurt

I road trip for art. A lot.

There’s a simple solution to staying fit while on the road. One that’s worked wonders for me over the years.

The 10-minute roadside rejuvenation method:

  • Every hour pull over at a roadside rest area
  • Set the timer on your phone for 10 minutes
  • Hop out of your vehicle and don’t stop moving until it dings

Here are some simple things you can do in those 10 minutes:

  • Play: If you’re with others, a frisbee, a ball, anything that gets you moving
  • Walk around
  • While walking, swing your arms vigorously
  • Stretch (I do simple yoga poses, slow lunges)
  • Finish strong: with pushups, deep knee bends. Pullups if you can find a branch or a part of a structure to use. It really gets your blood pumping.
You’ll find yourself invigorated, ready for the next hour without caffeine or food as a crutch.
At the end of a long day’s drive, you’ll find you’ve easily worked out an hour or more.
Modern rest areas come so often that it’s easy to pull on and off in a minute. 
If you’re pressed for time, do 5 minutes every hour. You’ll be more alert and you’ll cover many more miles safely and enjoyably. 
Who doesn’t want to come back from a trip in better shape? 
(A side benefit: Be prepared for an insight onslaught while you’re driving. Rejuvenation breaks have a way of spurring massive downloads of usable ideas.)

(Have a pen and pad handy 🙂

West Texas gas station parking lot.
Can you spot the frisbee?

Trusting the release

The bird was preening itself in this magnificent lighting but would not stay still. I held it in focus for several minutes.  
Finally, I said a prayer and simply trusted to release the shutter. 
That was the result. It’s a similar story with my best photographs. I suppose that if I deserve any credit it’s for the willingness to pick up the camera and leave the house. 
The Universe takes care of the rest. 

~ Greg NcNay


Stoking the reality I want to live in

Have you gone missing from your own life for awhile? That’s what it feels like in part, upon returning from a month-long working vacation. 
It was adventure, for sure. Road trip, family time, meeting creatives in their lairs . . . Upon returning though it feels like a hole has been blown in my forward progress, as I wrestle to get all the parts of my life working again.
Big events can blow our routines apart. 
Has this happened to you?
What were you were working on before you went away? What were you engaged in before you were interrupted by vacation or crisis or a wedding or a funeral?
Work life is easiest to get back into. You show up, you survey the avalanche of demands, you prioritize and you get on with it.
This is what’s happening with me at the art gallery. 
It’s the creative projects and the personal routines I’m struggling with.
Want to know what I’m doing to enter that slipstream of engaged living? 
I’m stoking the reality I want to live in.
I want rich relationships. 

So I’ve scheduled time with friends.
I want health and vitality. 
So I’m inserting something physical daily.
In fact, I’m following the dictum my son blurted out years ago while acrobating around the top of our metal-framed, four-poster bed: Fun exercise works!
If it’s fun and active, I’m in.
I also want my creative work to begin in earnest again.
So I’m simply beginning. Today.
We made campfires while camping on this trip. It turns out it’s easy. 
You start small. You gather the smallest elements first. You light it. You stoke the fire. You feed it. It burns.
It’s the same with the ingredients of a well-lived life. You gather the experiences you want into your day. Your present day. This day you’re living. Today!
Each brief experience in the direction of the greater life you want to live is an ember in your fire. You blow on it by living it today. Stoke the reality you want to live in by living it in the smallest increments you can muster  . . . and watch it catch fire.
(Sooner or later your biggest problem will be controlling the blaze 🙂