Is mainstream success a desirable thing?

A few weeks ago I was invited to speak to an assembled group of educators, artists and youth workers with a passion for education and effecting change in their communities and wider society.

My talk was around the theme “Is mainstream success a desirable thing?.” It was tailored to the specific audience but had wide ranging themes which speak to any creative person, entrepreneur or passionate person wrestling with what to do to, and who to partner with, to ensure sure that their vision or ideas are seen and adopted by as many people as possible to change the world.

These two tweets probably best sum up what the talk was about.

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I can’t provide a transcript as it was designed to be something heard, experienced and driven by audience interaction with but it was well received so the 8 sources that I built the talk around are below.

They are in no particular order, as the format of talk was non-linear and inspired by the ‘Choose your own adventure books’ that I read as a kid in the 80s

2

Let the quotes begin. Highlights are the specific parts used in my talk.

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So, in summary:  Know who you are and why you are motivated to do the work you do or create the art that you create. Then do it. Find the others who passionately believe in that vision/world view and partner with them. Mainstream success – however you choose to interpret it- or recognition may well be a side effect of that but unhappiness and disillusionment lies in having it as the main goal.

Sources/Inspiration (No, I haven’t Harvard ref’d)

  • Start with Why, Simon Sinek  (Chapter 3, The Golden Circle)
  • The Radical Vision of Toni Morrison, The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/magazine/the-radical-vision-of-toni-morrison.html?partner=socialflow&smid=tw-nytmag&_r=0

  • Cecile Emeke isn’t worried about Hollywood, The New York Times magazine

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/20/magazine/cecile-emeke-isnt-worried-about-hollywood.html

  • UK Hip Hop Ed manifesto, Art of Curious blog

http://artofcurious.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/uk-hiphoped-manifesto.html

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Small acts of creation

“Your job cannot contain the sum total of who you are and what you want to make”

We have three children; in August they will be five, two and two. We were so smug in our evening routine that got them off to bed fairly early and gave us space to spend time together – that is, until the clocks went forward. The lighter nights decimated our cosy routine. I’ve not had a night of uninterrupted sleep for several weeks and, until last week, the kids were taking well over an hour to get to sleep. This, coupled with waking with the birds, meant the sleep deprivation of the newborn months had returned.

I need regular creativity in my life to stay happy. Creativity beyond my work. Suddenly, the time I’d carved out most evenings for creating or reading had disappeared. We were falling asleep on the sofa at 9pm.

At Easter I listened to a podcast about the power of morning routines and realised that could be the key for me. One problem, though – I already got up at 0530, and wasn’t sure I could face much earlier. Then I reflected that most mornings I actually woke up at 0500 then just lay around waiting for my alarm to go off. How about just getting up when I opened my eyes?

After some early teething problems, fast forward two months.

Routine:

Wake up around 0500-0510 with no alarm

Get up immediately

Go downstairs

Make a mint tea

Read a non-fiction book

Write up to one A4 page (longhand) in response to this

0530 go upstairs

Shower, get dressed

0600 family get up and the circus starts

What’s been the effect? The evenings are still crazy but my day starts with calm and an act of creation every day. The result? A much happier and more contented me. Make time to create – you’ll be better for it.