The tight rope and the bulls eye

Listening and watching the Marcel Kampman “Droomschool” presentation: at the part of creativity, neurons fired and following those tiny explosions I opened a new blog post.

Which is what you are reading now.

“The Dre-am gap”

At around 14:00 minutes Marcel talks about the gap between dreams / the full potential and what is remaining of that potential due to the “waterfall process” of eduction.

In short: with each decision you make to: “become something” you close some of your potential and/or opportunities. With that, you also lose a part of your freedom “to be whatever you could or want to be”. (Quotes are mine, not from the presentation).

This post – I guess – is about “being who you could- or want to be”. It is a free flow of thoughts.

Making choices and choices made

The main reason why people get stuck is because they are trained to look at the impossibilities. The things they should NOT do. The possibilities closed. The things left behind. And since there are a lot of impossibilities and things you should NOT do, it is very easy to get stuck.

Brainstorming – “What if you had unlimited resources”

To work around the mindset of “thinking in limitations first” I use a simple mind game with clients and friends using two questions and two steps:

  1. No limitations – go and blow your mind – What if you have every resource you can imagine / one million euro / all the time in the world. What would you do?
  2. With limitations – filter out what is most realistic and most relevant – What if you have close to no resources / no money / no time. What would you choose from all you could imagine? What is the most important / most relevant?

It helps. The game offers clear limits. The game has a clear focus and outcome. Those who think in limitations feel a bit more free to step out of the: “yeah, but what if” and “this is not possible with/because of A, B and C” game because they know they can unleash that talent in phase 2.

The bulls eye

The basis to this approach is “the bulls eye principle”. When you throw darts, the dart board is only a small part of the wall. The bulls eye is only a small part of that dart board.

Compared to the chance of throwing the bulls eye, chances of missing the bulls eye is much bigger.

Many people who think in limitations focus on the surrounding area of that bulls-eye. Their thinking focuses at everything that can go wrong, all the places you can throw the darts, where there is NO bulls-eye. And in many cases their thinking gets lost in all those infinite possibilities and get stuck due to those infinite ways to miss the target. And at the end of the line, they waste their own time and no results comes out of the creative process.

People who become good at hitting the bulls-eye focus on hitting that spot. Their entire process is about: “How do I get to throw this dart closer to that bulls eye?” Anything else is irrelevant – including the damage to the surroundings – until someone points out something: “hey! Your darts are fucking up my floor and my wall”. And then they find a solution to get that issue out of the way. Reread that last sentence. Then I repeat it again:

They find a solution to get that issue out of the way from their target.

The tight rope: focus your mind and relax

The tight rope is an extenstion of the bulls eye, triggered by the Marcel Kampman speech i mentioned at the beginning of this post, and deals with the process as it goes.

When you walk the tight rope, a lot can go wrong. The only thing between you and the chasm below you is that tight rope. Basis of the problem: when you lose your balance, you will fall.

In other words: out of all the possibilities you have, only a thin line between your starting point and your end point is available. You “can not” (everything is relative) avert this line. You can not lose focus.Your options are limited.

Instead of flipping out, the best way to walk the tight rope is to focus your mind and relax. Focus on your balance, focus on the end goal: the other side of that rope. Relax, to be able to counter the moments when you lose your balance, or are about to lose your balance.

What happens is the following:

  1. Your perception narrows down to the rope and the target
  2. All the other aspects, including the chasm below become irrelevant
  3. Your body becomes your instrument and your ally

If you – again – start thinking about everything that can go wrong, you are not walking the tight rope. You are creating a blockade that makes crossing that line impossible. You are actively investing in the situation where you will fall off and fail to reach the end. It will take forever to even start crossing. You might even never reach the other side.

The creative process as I know it

Summarizing:

  1. Looking at what is not possible first – Destroys creativity in my opinion.
  2. Allowing yourself to dream first – Is what I believe what opens creativity.

To make any dream reality, you need to include what you think you learned about “how things work” at some point. Hence an approach in four steps:

  1. Dreaming, brainstorming – Looking at all that is possible without any limits: “What if you have one million euro, ten million, one billion euro?”
  2. Filtering – Narrowing down the options by choosing the options most relevant now for you, for the client, for whatever and who-ever: “What if you only have ten procent of that budget?”
  3. Defining the issues – That come along when doing it, when building it, when having it: “What can go wrong if we do this?”
  4. Finding solutions – To remove anything out of the way that blocks the path: “What can you do to solve it / avoid it? What will that cost? How can we avoid those costs?”.
  5. Drop whatever will not work for now – Sometimes the time is not ready yet. Either you or your environment is not ready yet. It might be to costly, too difficult. If you can not make a closing case, you might be moving towards a losing game.

“Finding solutions” follows the same 5 steps in endless recursionsuntil you think you have covered all issues and things seem doable with what you can do now.

Putting it into action

To make it work is like walking the tight rope. Once you made your choices, you execute them. You follow the plan until you reach the other side.

The main parts about the tight rope in this perspective are these:

  1. If you focus on what can go wrong, you will lose your balance – And everything that can go wrong is around you
  2. Your stress and will to control will exhaust you – Your body and mind have ways to auto-correct things on a sub-conscious level. You can train those mechanisms. To think that you are in control and HAVE stay in control is only fucking you up in the end. Even worse: “you” are doing the work of someone or something else.
  3. When you are able to relax body and mind, it will become like a walk in the park – Every beginning is difficult, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. IF you are able to relax.

The tight rope is not an endless strain that starts here and ends when you die. It is not about: “Once you made a choice, you can never get back from it”.

  1. The length of each tight rope is mostly defined by your goals, promises and responsibilities – It can be a week, a year, a decade or half a century.
  2. At the end of each tight rope are a number of new choices– Your choices and ability to choose something new never ends
  3. In some cases you can go back – Nothing is unchangeable or irreversible (except time). If you discover you made a mistake, you can go back or jump off. See point 4 and 5.
  4. In some cases you can jump off – See point 5.
  5. The size of the risk is defined by the consequences when things go wrong – What defines the risk is the distance between you and the ground. And the distance between you and the safety net. The higher your ambitions the further the fall. And if that fall is deep, you better have a safety net.

You will fail the first times

Failure is part of the process of learning new things. You will fall. you will miss. You will look at people more experienced and more talented than you and think: “I will never get there”. You will think of giving up. And if guilt-trips and self beating are an important part of your programming, you will translate that into self-beating thoughts that assure that you are either already look stupid or will look stupid later on – and that that is all your own fault.

Changing plans is part of the deal: please do upgrade

Changing plans and changing strategy is part of the deal. It is part of life. The trick is to find ways to upgrade, not to downgrade.

Upgrading means:

  1. Finding a better / easier / cheaper way to reach the same goal – It might be that you chose a path that is hard to follow, that costs you a lot of energy, time and / or money. As there are many ways to reach the same goal, there will also be simpler and cheaper ways. Find them.
  2. Pursuing a new and better (reachable) goal – It might be that during your travel, you find that the original goal is not that glorious as you initially thought. You might have stumbled upon a goal even more awesome and very much doable with what you are investing now. Like trading
  3. Going for what is possible – Which includes: taking calculated risks, stretching whatever you have and can do to the point where it might start to hurt a little, but will not strain.
  4. Going for a winning game – Winning here – and in my approach – is where all involved are coming out enriched. If you can find ways where you and your peers and clients can get even more, go for it. And to be clear: the game that led to the credit crunch is clearly not a winning game.
  5. Decreasing your risks – Be smart. Cover your ass. Secure investments. Do not: “sell the skin before the bear has been shot”. Make sure that when stuff comes down, that you can walk away (mostly) unharmed.

Downgrading means:

  1. Giving up on your dream – As it did not work out, you drop your dreams wholesale. Leaving you with the sharts of your broken dreams.
  2. Going for an seemingly easier but more crappy solution – Sometimes (or in some belief systems) going for something crappy: “is the better choice” as – for instance – “you do not deserve ‘it’,” where “it” can be success, happiness or a lovely meal. There are many reasons why downgrading might seem a better solution, including class/your social background and: “because it is easier”.
  3. Going for something impossible – It is good to dream, but to go for the impossible means you are playing a losing game on most of your accounts. It will deliver you more experience, but the questions is if you want to pay the price on the way there.
  4. Clinging on to a losing game – The choices you made are not a Dogma. A losing game costs you time, money and might cost you what is dear to you.
  5. Increasing your risks – The higher your risks become, the more severe will be the consequences when you fall.

You can not be: “whatever you want”, only a better version of yourself

Creativity is very personal. Where one person will come up with awesome cities full of glitter and rainbows, another will only reach the level of a wooden stick in the sand when following the same line of thinking. We are made belief that:

  1. We are all the same in some way or another – and thus the same rules and evaluation apply to us all
  2. We can be just like our role models if we just try hard enough – and thus we have to strive harder

In the end, both are a mind fuck.

There is a story I might want to write later on. It is about a little kid ferret (or mouse or whatever). Here is the brief:

The kid ferret has always been told it is a rabbit, that everyone around it is a rabbit and that to be a rabbit is the best you can be if you want to be happy and successful. But for some reason, the little ferret does not buy this story. Kids around him have wings, can dig deep holes and run really fast. If they would all be a rabbit, why is everyone so different? Being thrown into an identity crisis, the little ferret tries to become a dog, a fish, a mole and a bird. All with great failure. Until the moment the little ferret discovers that it is really awesome in being a ferret. Itself.

The main reason we think we have to be like someone else is because we think that is: “better”. It is better to be a bird than a ferret. Better to be a ferret than a rabbit. Better to be a rabbit than a dog. But all is relative.

Bottom line: the best thing you can become is you.

Closing statement: It is all a game

We tend to take things very seriously when we reach “maturity” and “become adults”. We have our responsibilities, our mortgages, our families and what the people around us might think about what we are- or are not doing at this point in our life.

The problem is that the moment we start taking things really serious, we start to tense up. We start producing stress, fears and limitations. We start to exclude things, ideas, people and possibilities.

In the end it is all a game. We play. We create. We destroy. And then we die at a certain point.

While the stakes and consequences in some games are higher (when under enemy fire, you can not just stand up and start telling a joke to the other guys who are shooting at you – because you felt like it; when having people working for you, closing your business from one day to the other “because you no longer had a feel for it”) it is still a game.

It is a game because – like any game kids play – it is based on make-belief. The make-belief: “that it is important”, that: “it makes a difference” and so on.

At the end of the day and the end of the ride, nothing really is important. We all live in a shared fantasy dreamworld. So make it a joyful ride. Find the people and things you care about. Create, invent, build up beautiful dreams you can make happen and that will really improve your life. Do not go for impossibilities first. Do not put your life, your freedom or your happyness at stake. Play winning games. Go for the bulls eye. Walk the tight rope. Upgrade every time you change plans. Make people smile if you can. Increase the quality of living around you if that is within your power.

Have fun.

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