Repost: How To Achieve More Than You Think You Can

How to achieve more than you think you can, using Justin Timberlake as the perfect example.

Looking at it from the outside, little of how his career has progressed seems to make sense.

JT’s not someone you come across in headlines a whole lot, yet he sits on over 160 awards, a 200 million dollar fortune and one of the most respected reputations in the history of entertainment. At 36 years old, he’s had a globally successful band, four platinum solo albums, starred in the smash hit movies and is considered a fashion icon.

But that’s not what common sense tells us, is it? Though cautions have been added to the famous 10,000-hour rule, the message remains the same: you need lots of deliberate practice and years of time to get good at one thing.

So how can someone like Timberlake switch music styles, industries, even to a completely different skill set, like acting, time and time again, yet still succeed?

What part of the picture are we missing?

Learning To Unlearn

Every lesson in life comes at the expense of unlearning another.

When you learn to be confident, you unlearn to be shy. When you react with humility, you have forgotten your ego. When you’re comfortable taking the risk, you ignore other’s opinions, and so on.

In Chinese philosophy, the idea of Yin and Yang suggests that life consists entirely of dualities. It is only through the completeness of these dualities that we achieve unity. So no matter how contradictory two sides seem, they’re ultimately connected.

For each new piece of knowledge you acquire, you have to let go of an old one. Foggy clouds of ideas make way for facts, which make way for better facts, only to be replaced by new clouds, and so the cycle continues.

What most of us do when we try to improve is resist this cycle. We want every next answer to be the answer to everything. A different diet, a new sleep schedule, a tweak to your marketing — if only we stick to it, it may last us forever. Of course, nothing ever does.

That’s because the underlying skill of acquiring and abandoning knowledge, the unity, lies in change itself. What you’re really learning is how to unlearn.

Justin Timberlake is a master at it.

Smooth in black & white, though that’s not how he thinks.

The Unimportance of Being Right

There is a famous line in a Walt Whitman poem called Song of Myself:

“Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself.”

The next time someone accuses you of being inconsistent, say this line. It’ll instantly take the wind out of their sails because you can’t argue with someone who accepts being wrong. Especially without making an attempt to defend themselves.

Most people stumble over this idea because one of our biggest innate desires is to be consistent. Add to that our tendency to spend more time on what we’ve already sunken energy into and you get a high level of resistance to unlearning.

People like Justin Timberlake, however, practice something cryptocurrency expert Nick Szabo calls quantum thought:

“In law school, they teach a very different way of thinking in that you need to take both the defendants and the plaintiffs side of the issue and run down the arguments as if each one of them is true. They contradict each other, of course, or at least the conclusions, and so I compare this to Schrodinger’s cat — maybe it’s alive, maybe it’s dead. Maybe the defendant’s guilty, maybe they’re not, and you have to keep both of these in your mind at once.”

When Justin went from child actor to boyband singer, from solo artist to actor, from show host to comedian, from R&B to Soul, and from commercial star to the voice actor, he was in no way convinced he’d be good at all of those things.

He just managed to hold the possibility of two different truths in his head at the same time. Thanks to this skill, Timberlake is never afraid to be wrong, since he is always free to unlearn one thing for another. He has a frictionless mind.

It’s a mental model he likely acquired at The Mickey Mouse Club.

A Child With A Grown Man’s Work Ethic

Even someone as talented as Justin Timberlake isn’t always right. He bought a golf course for $16 million, only to sell it for $500,000 seven years later, and some of his films were really bad. He works incredibly hard too, which we can’t neglect.“There’s a spelling bee and you have to spell the word ‘CAT.’ One student spells it ‘C-A-T.’ The person got it right. The next person spells it ‘K-A-T.’ That’s wrong.

And so we’ve built a system for ourselves where there is an answer and everything else is not the answer, even when some answers are better than others. So our brains are absent the wiring capable of coming up with an original thought.”

As adults, we spend all of our time in this system, so it’s almost impossible not to fall prey to the same thinking. But when we do, when we resist the process of constantly updating our view of the world, we block our own path.

Children aren’t burdened with this problem yet, because they’re still unfamiliar with the idea that “this is how we do things around here.” As Sir Ken Robinson recalls about the time his son was in the nativity play:

“The three boys came in, four-year-olds with tea towels on their heads, and they put these boxes down, and the first boy said, “I bring you gold.” And the second boy said, “I bring you myrrh.” And the third boy said, “Frank sent this.”

What these things have in common is that kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. Am I right? They’re not frightened of being wrong. I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we doknow is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong.”

What we really see when we look at someone of Justin Timberlake’s caliber, is a child with a grown man’s work ethic. Having traversed the long road of unlearning, he reaps the rewards of unencumbered thought: Originality, adaptability, and the courage to exercise both at a second’s notice.

If nobody told you what you can and can’t achieve in a 20-year career, how much would you dare to try?

Chances are you’d act with an open mind and, like Justin Timberlake, embrace the next line in Whitman’s poem:

“I am large, I contain multitudes.”

What a brilliant write-up. I highly acknowledge Niklas Goke for this wonderful piece of work and how his writing has impacted a lot of people including me.

I hope this post touches someone today.

You free to repost, share, and comment.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Advertisements

The Inherent Meditation Of Creativity

Being creative is as innate to being human as eating, talking, walking and thinking is. It has always been a process we naturally prioritize; our ancestors somehow found time to carve their images and stories on cave walls. But we’ve mistakenly grown to regard it as some form of luxury – you’re lucky if you have the means to express yourself.

In reality, it is a manner of education, communication, and ultimately, self-introspection, and we are in constant manifestation of it. The mediums have shifted from rock particles to pixels, but we can all still see that there is something inherently human about wanting to imprint, impress, craft, mold, form, paint, write and otherwise mold something abstract into that which is conceivable to someone else.

Unsurprisingly then, it seems that the most effective creative process is one that follows the art of meditation, mindfulness, intuition, non-resistance, non-judgement, etc.

I did not begin writing because it was something I liked. It was how I figured my way out of pain. It didn’t take too long to realize that I didn’t want to spend my life creating or exacerbating problems only to think and feel my way out for the sake of a job. I wanted to be able to write and create just because. Just because I’m alive and breathing and can.

I had to learn that my expression did not need to be justified – it is valid because I am a valid human being, the same as you, and everybody else.

But in the meantime, I tried all the classic writing routines of the greats, the promised formulas for consistent, rhythmic creation. I tried to be structured, did anything to induce “flow,” intentionally probed at the deep dark untouched corners of myself, was routine even when I didn’t want to be, and found every bit of it to be dead-ended.

I was trying to create structure where structured need not be placed. It did little more than make the process stagnate.

The reason being, mostly, that we do not ebb and flow in and out of creation. It is an unseen constant, from the clothes we choose to the sentences we say to the way we arrange our desks at work.

It comes down to imagining writing (or painting, or singing, or whatever it is you do) as coming as naturally as breathing does: it’s an effortless process, it draws upon what is outside you and transforms it as it goes through you, and it is tensed, stressed, ebbed and made more difficult when we consciously try to do it.

In fact, anything creative tends to be most hampered by end goals. It is almost imperative that you are completely mindful of the moment, creating from a place of simply allowing whatever is going through you to flow out.

Because when you have a pre-prescribed path in mind, it means you are trying to align with somebody else’s. It means that the inspiration you have found is you creating your own version of somebody’s something else that made you tick and flow.

You’ll seldom be inspired by work that is coming from a core truth, and that’s because it shows you something about yourself. Not just something, the truest truth – that’s what makes the process so god damn unbearable.

And that’s why we reach for structure, that’s what makes us stopper the process. That’s why we want inspiration and validation and external support.

In the true essence of real zen, the most creativity can be fostered when you learn to do so without passing judgment: similar to how observing your thoughts and feelings objectively are the path to peace as well.

Some of what you write down you’ll want to share, or make consumable. Some you won’t. That’s okay too. It’s imperative to realize that even the greatest artists weren’t consistently prolific, especially not publicly. But considering that “inactivity” a lack, loss or failure is just attaching another ego-meaning to it all.

You cannot quantify your creativity, and though it is an extension and impression and expression of yourself, it does not define you.

You are free to keep the sacredness of your most inner self only within your own existence. The more you can express that, and live that, without judgment, and in the moment, the more you’ll feel free to be honest, and open up to yourself. The more you feel comfortable with that core self, the more you’ll feel able to create from a peaceful place. Just because. Whenever you want.

Things No One Tells You About Living The Creative Life

Things No One Tells You About Living The Creative Life

1. You will have a lot of haters.

No matter how politically correct or general you are trying to be, there are people out there who enjoy putting others down. They enjoy hating as much as they enjoy letting others know that their work doesn’t mean a thing. You’d think if someone doesn’t like something, they could just ignore it instead of reading it or seeing it and taking the time to write paragraphs mocking your work. But this will somehow be the fuel you need to keep creating and keep getting better.

2. People are a lot more sensitive than you think.

If your art is emotional; you will provoke some people. The simplest thing can really trigger a lot of emotions or send out the wrong message and you must learn how not to dwell on it.

3. You will realize that creativity is another world.

It’s really a world of its own, as a writer, I get lost in my writing every day, I get lost in my ideas, I get lost in how the words flow together and how one word can give meaning to a whole paragraph. I get lost in the art of writing – I get wonderfully lost that sometimes I really don’t know how I wrote something or all how all the pieces of it came together the way it did.

4. Heartfelt comments will be the air you breathe.

As much as you will piss a lot of people off, you will also touch so many hearts and in my opinion this is what makes it all worthwhile. Knowing your art moved someone, they helped someone find a way, they touched someone’s heart, they made someone get over their heartbreak and they made someone feel less alone. This is the best and most powerful reward you get from creative living, you get to connect with so many amazing people and you all inspire each other.

5. You have to be fearless.

If you really want to make it as an artist, you have to be completely fearless. You will always be afraid that someone else already did it better, or that you won’t be taken seriously, or that you will be too exposed, or that people will think you are a fool or that you will embarrass your friends and family. The list is endless and boring . You have to give it all you’ve got because it’s what you’re passionate about and it’s what you know and it’s what you love. Creative living requires courage. Taking the road less traveled will never be easy but it will always take you to extraordinary places not many people have been.

6. Art is not something you learn.

Creative people, artists, writers or musicians don’t really need schooling to be considered as one. A lot of Nobel prize winners and Oscar winners never even got past high school. If you are working on your craft with love and devotion and creating something that at least a few thousand people can connect with and relate to then you are already an artist – you don’t need a fancy degree to affirm that for you.

7. You will have self-loathing moments.

You will have moments when you hate the stuff you’ve written or produced and you want it to take it back, you will have moments when you wish you would’ve never published this piece – but this is part of the creative living. It’s better to produce something that is not that great than to produce nothing at all — it’s also part of growing as an artist. As long as you are creating something; you’re already ahead of the pack. Good enough is better than nothing.

8. Your love life might suffer.

Most days it will – sometimes it will take away the air of mystery if someone is getting to know you because your whole life can be revealed to them by the click of a button and sometimes it will scare people off because they don’t want their lives to end up somewhere in your work. This goes back to being fearless enough and having the courage to be an open book or exposed. In a way it filters those who don’t like you for the real you.

Things No One Tells You About Living The Creative Life

9. Self-discipline is essential.

People think that if you work creatively that you can be a sloppy mess with zero time management skills. This is one of the worst misconceptions about artists; we do have more flexibility but you still have to discipline yourself to prepare your craft, fix it, re-do it and find more inspiration. Creative living means less sleep and more work because it will become your priority and it represents you.

10. It’s a life-time commitment.

At the end of day creative living issomething you commit yourself to. You commit to keep creating regardless of the results, you commit yourself to finding new sources of inspiration, talking to different people, visiting new placed and you sometimes commit to temporary isolation – isolation with your thoughts and your ideas. You spend your life promising your art that you will never give up on it, take it for granted or stop loving it.

The Way To More Inspiration, Intuition And Creativity

This was first revealed in the daily positive.

There is a place where all your inspiration, intuition and creativity exists.

It’s the ONLY place you can tap into it.

That place is called the present moment.

If you’re not here now, in the present moment, where are you?

Our minds wander all over the place! Into the past and into the future. And while we’re off in our mind-based reality, we miss our actual life.

Inspirations come like bolts of lightning that want to connect with you, but you need to be present to receive those inspirations.

Intuition is a whisper inside that speaks to you, to guide you, but you have to be aware to notice that inner voice gently nudging you.

And creativity… in all it’s beautiful forms, is a magical energy that wants to flow to you and through you, but you need to be here in the moment to capture those creative urges.

The more mindful you are, the more you practice living in the present moment, the more inspired, intuitive and creative you’ll be. And the more fulfilling and successful your experience of life will be.