Thursday, October 27, 2016

Let's Pretend

A Video Version

When I was a young boy I would pretend to be Jim Thorp, one of the early great football heroes.  Latter I emulated Johnny Unitas with the Baltimore Colts.  I would run and zig and zag in our back yard on Franklin Ave in Lewisburg, Tennessee and score touchdown time after time.  I was a sports hero – in my mind.

As a young drummer I listened to Gene Krupa and Joe Morello of the Dave Brubeck Quartet and emulated their drumming style.  They were the best of the best in those days and I listened and practiced their style of drumming.  I pretended to be them.  At times I suppose I was a wild and crazy drummer.

In college, I loved the way my professor, Jim Van Hook directed choirs.  He had the coolest style, the warmest of banter, and I wanted to be like him.  And for a while, so I became.

You see, we pretend to be others while we are developing our own style.

Copy – copy – copy till you make it your own.  I had to learn my voice as a drummer, as a writer and as anything else I’ve pursued by learning and copying from others. 

I love this quote by Austin Kleon – from his book Steal Like an Artist.

“Start copying.  Nobody is born with a style or a voice.  We don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are.  In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes.  We learn by copying.”

We learned to write by memorizing the alphabet first, and forming the letters.  We copied what was on the blackboard in our elementary school.

And then came spelling, sentences, diagraming of sentences, then longer passages.  And then we wrote term papers.  We borrowed ideas, and quotes from various sources.  We borrowed.

And we learned.

Interesting fact:
~In his early days Johnny Carson tried to emulate Jack Benny.  He ended up being Johnny Carson.

~David Letterman copied Johnny Carson.  He ended up being David Letterman.

~Conan O’Brien tried to become David Letterman.  He ended up being Conan O’Brien.

We start out copying, mimicking, patterning ourselves or our style after someone else and along the way we make adjustments, tweak our style, and sooner than soon, we make it our own. 

We become an original by learning from others first.  That sounds like such a contradiction in terms, but it is so. 

And it is all stealing at its finest. 

Let the “Let’s pretend” dance continue. 

Words of Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Opinions Don't Matter

I once had it said to me, "You're an accident looking for a place to happen."

On another occasion I was given a tee-shirt with the slogan: “I must hurry and catch up with the others for I am their leader.”

OH, by the way – I’m not laughing as I type these words – I’m cringing, for those are not the most esteeming words I’ve ever heard in my life.

The most difficult work you and I will ever do is the work of overcoming other’s opinions of us.  We’ve all made mistakes.   I admit to having done some pretty foolish and stupid things, and we’ve all had people in our lives who try to give us their opinion on how to govern our lives. 

In the long run, do other’s opinions really matter?  Are we so in bondage to their words and ideas that we can’t move, or act, or think for ourselves?

Just because ‘they’ say so doesn’t make it so.  You and I are only losers, low- life-types and undesirable IF we buy into that bunk.

We have a voice.  We get to make good choices along the way as well. 

In grade school, I heard some of my friends referred to as this:
“Fatty-fatty, two-by-four, can’t get through
  the kitchen door.”
“Hey klutz.”
“You stupid kid.”
“You must be dumb or something.”

The opinions that others hold of us really do not matter.  It is what we believe about ourselves that is important.  I think Les Brown really nails it down with this.  

"Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality."

And this old saying still works: 

“If you think you can, you can” 

Now, there was a lot of room in my life for personal growth and development.  And I was smart enough early in my adult life to realize that and began taking the steps to do something about it. 

I began with Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, and that led me to The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.  Next came Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, and just a few years ago I discovered Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel.  That one was huge!

Soon I was beginning to see the beginnings of a change in thinking and started the journey toward a healthier self-esteem.  Did it happen overnight?  Not by a long shot.  Even today I have moments of self-doubt, and when that happens I pause, I change my ‘stinking thinking’ as Zig Ziglar used to say, and remind myself that I am a capable and worthwhile individual and I can figure out solutions for my life, and thanks to Brennan, “God loves me as I am, not as I should be.”

In time I found that I have a good and analytical mind and can think for myself.  And as far as other’s opinions, I began choosing my own opinions and regard for myself. 

The mindset then becomes:

I’m not perfect but I am getting better

Other’s opinions?  I’m finding ways to ignore them and am choosing my own view of self.

Try it for yourself.  It works.

Words of Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Overcoming Stagnation

There are three simple rules to learn and heed.  Here they are.

The mandate then becomes “ACTION”.

We have an enemy.  It is what is called our lizard brain and its name is RESISTANCE.  Resistance is always chattering away, often sabotaging our best opportunities and ruining our best chance to do great work.

And its voice sounds like this.
   ~Oh, can we sleep in and try again
     tomorrow, or next week.
   ~But its already been done before.  Nobody
     will pay attention to my idea.
   ~But I don’t know how, or where, or who or
   ~And what if I fail?

Oh, we could go on, but by now you get the idea. 

Stagnation turns into a bog, and a bog is another name for quicksand.  It can suck us down and under. 

If that means we get up earlier, then we get up earlier.

If it means we read from different authors, then we seek them out.

If it means we ask someone wiser and more experienced, then that is exactly what we do.

We go to the source where we find the best and most accurate information that will help us move from stagnation to solid ground and then we keep climbing.

Lest you think I am a writer and speaker who says this stuff without acting on my own words, here is what I’m doing.  Since the first of September I have formed the new habit of arising between 4:30 and 5:00 AM every morning.

This time has become my oasis and I guard it jealously. I have moved into a place that is the best part of my day.  And it works.

I don’t know about you but I’m stepping from stagnation to activation. 

Words of Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time