The Proven 3-Step Method to Create Anything

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When you begin any transformative or creative process, there is a time-tested process by which radical manifestation occurs.

First, the urge or desire must take shape. Next, the idea and its creator must have time to germinate together to solidify and transform the thought to a thing. Finally, the creation or change must be brought out into the world.

You might mistakenly think that the third step, the creation or change being made manifest and open to the world, is your business, but you’d be wrong. It is in fact your process, your job, to develop the wisdom, patience and consistency to remain in the second step long enough to make the third step evident.

Here’s those steps again, said differently.

If you want to create something, be it a tangible thing like a product, or physical transformation, or an intangible thing like a skill, character trait or inner-practice, you must follow these three steps:

 

  1. Recognize the idea and creation.
  2. Germinate and coexist in the creation.
  3. Share the creation with the world.

 

Look no further than our dear mother and provider, the earth, for this.

A caterpillar exists but instinctually recognizes a desire to change. She builds her cocoon to insulate herself from the outside world so she may germinate unmolested with her natural desire to change. Finally one day, she can feel that her newly formed wings at her side are strong enough to carry her outside that cocoon. She knows she’s given her desire and her newest creation (herself!) the time she needed to survive and thrive in the world. She emerges and the world can’t help but notice just from her very presence that she is much different than she was before. The world pauses to reflect on her beauty as she goes about her daily life.

Your own biological mother gave you this same creative process. She conceived you out of a desire to create. She provided you with the incubation conditions necessary to allow you, as your own unique idea and creation, to form into the physicality that would be strong enough and well developed enough to thrive outside the womb. Your family and all in attendance at your birth marveled at the transformation of the idea that came forth into physical form — you!

So why wouldn’t this be so with your other creations?

When you feel the desire to create, recognize and honor the impulse.

Poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “that you [must] go within and probe the depths from which your life issues; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create.”

A burning desire to create is inspiration, source and your higher self, calling you into a new experience. If you want to create improved health, your very cells are asking you to create a new version and vision of yourself. If you feel the desire to write or start a business or have a baby or take a trip, go inside and recognize if this is a true, deep desire to create. Once you can answer, yes! you’ll know you’ve heard the call.

This is how writing is for me. Long before I was an accomplished writer I felt this deep, burning urge to write. By the age of 14 I was religiously keeping a diary. I’d fill pages and pages with my thoughts, ideas and experiences of every day. At the end of my freshman year of high school I had filled ten journals in those short nine months of life, not to mention the countless notes and letters I had passed back and forth with my girlfriends. These were the days before texting and cell phones! Around 2007 I became aware of blogging and WordPress. I started a simple little blog called the Duchess Guide, which became an important outlet for me to write and explore during a divorce and move to Los Angeles. During these decades of writing, there was no compensation, no real encouragement, just the desire to write. And write. And write. It was my burning desire.

What is your burning desire?

Once you recognize this desire, you move to the most critical step in the creative process: germination.

Just like babies must incubate and caterpillars must cocoon, your ideas and creations, too, must have this crucial metamorphic period.

Too soon we tell well-meaning loved ones, co-workers and even not so well meaning folks about our creations. The diet we’re on. The Stoic philosophy we’re exploring. The business we are starting. The idea we have. The exercise program we’ve just started.

What’s the first thing people do?

Shoot your creation down fast!

“Oh, Joe tried to start a business – he even took out a second mortgage on his house but it failed – be careful!”

“I tried a diet last year, course it didn’t stick — they’re so hard.”

“How can you do that, it’s impossible?”

“Isn’t that a cult?”

“Haven’t you heard about the economy?”

Folks are well meaning (usually) but a newborn idea is a delicate thing. Your fledgling creation needs time to build strength. You two need to get to know one another. You’ll need to incubate and germinate like a seed in the ground very intimately with just your idea. This is an exclusive party just for the two of you.

Professor of Philosophy and author of, “A Guide to the Good Life,” William Irvine explains, “It is of course possible for [a] woman to win the approval of [her] naysayers. She need only abandon her dream.”

Too often that is what you do.

You bring your idea and change out of its incubation too soon, only to find the naysayers slinging rocks of doubt and abuse and BAM! Your latest creation or dream is abandoned. The diet dies. The idea withers on your mind’s vine. The business gets prolonged another day for when it’s “safer.”

In the book, “The Way To Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony De Mello,” the Jesuit author admonishes us of this dependence on others saying,

“You were given a taste for the drug called Approval, Appreciation, Attention, the drug called Success, Prestige, Power. Having got a taste for these things you became addicted and began to dread their loss.”

You must challenge yourself to overcome the need for approval bit by bit over the course of your life, but for now, recognize the need for approval as the idea killer it is and make every effort to just avoid speaking of your creation too soon.

Give yourself and your creations the time they need to succeed by not telling a soul, unless it’s a truly sensational, unrelenting supporter of you.

Rilke says this in his advice to a younger poet seeking his approval saying,

“Now, since you’ve permitted me to give you advice, I ask you to abandon all this. You look outside yourself, and that above all else is something you should not do just now. There’s only one way to proceed. Go inside yourself.”

Stay quiet about your change. Go inward and co-mingle with your brilliance. One day you will know when your creation is strong enough to be disclosed. The impulse will come, like birthing pains or the flutter of butterfly wings, you’ll know now is the time to come out of your germination and into the world.

“Enjoy your growing, which you must of course do on your own, and be good to those who remain behind.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

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I have bad news, she said quietly, like a circus tamer gingerly approaching a rabid, caged lion. I waited. I’ve done the figures over twice now and keeping getting the same answer… you’re going to owe a lot for taxes this year. A lot? I asked. Like $17,000 a lot, she sheepishly replied.

 

What would your reaction be to that news, ten days prior to the filing date?

 

The first Stoic of recorded history, Zeno of Citium (331 – 261 BC) was the son of a merchant whose primary trade was purple dye. Zeno’s father would bring him along on voyages of enterprise aboard his merchant ship and provide him with books on philosophy to grow his mind and pass the time as they traveled over the water. One particularly rough crossing, the ship was overturned and destroyed and Zeno found himself brought ashore in Athens, Greece.

 

Athens was the setting of many of the (then-modern) philosophical texts Zeno has been reading all those years aboard his father’s ship and so he decided to explore the city while he awaited new passage home. Zeno stumbled into a bookstore (a man after my own heart!) and asked the clerk there where he might find the great philosophers like Socrates, whom he had been reading so much about. The clerk looked up and happened to notice a well-known Athenian philosopher, called Crates the Cynic, walking past and told Zeno to, “follow yonder man.”

 

He did and in short order became a devout mentee of Crates, thus founding Cynism as a formalized philosophy. When he reflected on his life, many years later, Zeno is credited as having said:

 

“I made a prosperous voyage when I suffered shipwreck.”

 

The tax bill I was looking at could have been a shipwreck. Or it could have indicated the jumping off point for a prosperous voyage.

 

My mindset even a year ago would’ve been to react to this news in tears or rage. How could that be possible? Damn, IRS taking so much of our hard earned money? What was wrong with my accountant, she had to be making a mistake?! Where will the money come from? Poor me! This always happen to me. I’m always struggling!

 

Yet, now, I simply laughed.

 

I’m sure there’s a mistake somewhere — we’ll find it.

 

“Constraints are blessings in disguise.” – Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, co-authors of Rework

 

I wasn’t upset. We went line by line through the return and two wonderful things struck me during the course of that conversation with my wonderful CPA.

 

First, I wasn’t upset about the news. The mere fact that I had made enough money in my business last year to actually owe $17,000 in taxes was actually a welcome surprise! Years before I would’ve been lucky to even make $17,000 at all! Now I owed that in taxes? Surely I’d had a great 2015, as I’d already supposed. Second, by having a mindful, calm and even humorous reaction to the news, we were easily able to find the mistake. An Excel spreadsheet I had sent an under-study at her CPA office with all my 2015 business expenses had been misplaced The amount owed was drastically reduced with the business expenses entered into my return and so the psychological trauma and story telling was not only avoided, it never happened.

 

How did I get to this place where I could take the news so calmly?

 

Mindfulness training.

 

I have been a diligent student of spirit and mind over the last three years. My goal? Inner peace. Tranquility. Do I live that every day? Of course not! Some days I’d be hard pressed to tell you I’ve made any progress over the last years of dutiful, daily training. Yet, this event made me realize something. I have grown! That tranquility has taken root and mind, while still a moving motion-filled place, is not the torrid, raging waters it once was and my work is actually paying off. I feel calmer. More blessed. I’m able to see more and more that every experience is a blessing and an opportunity.

 

I’ll repeat that because it’s the key to life, to inner peace and the purpose to this story for you.

 

Every experience is a blessing and opportunity.

 

Diogenes of Sinope, another well-known Stoic commented on this perspective saying, “Such is the madness of men. That they choose to be miserable when they have it in their power to be content.”

 

A $17,000 tax bill could be a calamity, or a blessing. You could have perhaps have only dreamed of a time years ago where your business would’ve made that much, yet here you could stand with a bill that reflects just how wonderful and abundant your year really was for you.

 

You get to choose to see what exists. You get to choose to see the lesson and the blessing. It’s also your choice not to see it if you don’t want to.

 

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

 

My intention for you to have the vision and open your eyes today to see all the ways in which you, and each of us, is so incredibly blessed in this moment.

Progress is Your most Natural State of Being

Healthy-Road-Trip-Tips

Last week I drove to Washington D.C. for a meeting. It’s about a three hour drive from my place at NASA and it was a first time making the drive from this point. I looked at the route, put the hotel address into the GPS and from there simply followed the turns as Siri called them out. It was an easy, fluid drive and only at the end when I entered the District did I need to concentrate fully on the intricacies of the journey.

 

Which got me thinking… what if daily life was more like that easy, natural road trip?

 

Could you put your intended waypoint into life’s GPS and then relax as the road unfolded before you?

 

They may be twists and turns you need to take, times when life moves fast and other times when life feels like it’s creeping along toward an intended destination, but could you continue to keep going forward with faith that your inner GPS will get you to your destination?

 

Too many times in life you set a goal or intention and get frustrated when you don’t get there fast enough.

 

You know the drive to D.C. is going to take about 3.5 hours with traffic, but there are plenty of things that can happen between your forecasted arrival and your actual departure time. The road between you and D.C. doesn’t stand frozen in time as you travel the path, it too is a leaving, breathing, dynamic environment.

 

Road conditions could deteriorate, weather could move in and slow things down, more cars could enter the roadway and congest the way forward, accidents could happen that slow or even detour you from the original path. Yet you’d keep moving forward. At no point would you drive 150 of the 179 miles and decide, “This isn’t happening fast enough. I don’t think D.C. is at the end of this path, I’m turning around.”

 

Why is it so that you do this with your intended outcomes?

 

On the road to weight loss or more vitality, you decide, “the weight isn’t coming off fast enough, I’m quitting.” Or you go to dinner, cave-in for a good burger and fries and decide one detour from your all salad life plan means you should abandon a more vibrant nutritional life.

 

There’s nothing wrong with detours. There’s no harm in a slower progress at times toward the destination. There is no shame in exiting the path momentarily.

 

The key is to get back on the path. To have faith in your intended outcome. To continue to repay that debt month after month. To steadily increase your daily walk time, to hit the gym three days a week instead of two. To keep tacking that professional or educational certification one class at a time.

 

Bill Gates once brilliantly said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

 

Stay on the path you’re on.

 

Keep the faith.

 

Enjoy the journey and make a fun, daring adventurous road trip out of it.

 

You’ll be surprised on December 31st this year when you look back and see how far you’ve come because you kept going.

2 Steps to Spring into Possibility

Rope_Bridge,_Carrick-a-Rede._County_Antrim,_Ireland-LCCN2002717354You hear stories all the time of the impossible becoming manifest. A mother who lifts a car when a child is trapped somehow underneath. A feeling of a friend and then the phone rings and it’s them. An idea that takes root and somehow changes the world.

Every once in a while, Grandmother would open her eyes fully and say, ‘Try to imagine the unimaginable William.’ – passage from Leona Francombe’s The Sage of Waterloo

People are doing the “impossible” every day, so why not you?

Impossibilities are simply mental limitations.

Yet, that “simply” can be a lot more complex.

Want to know two great tactics for bridging the cap between impossible and possible in your own life?

Here are two gentle practices I use all the time that help me conjure up a truly magical life of opportunities. They will work in your life, I promise, if you’ll just stay consistent and gentle with them.

 

  1. Look to the past.

“Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.” – Louis D. Brandeis

It really helps to look back a year, two, even five years and make a list of the things you’ve accomplished you once believed would be impossible. If you find yourself stalling out with this, here are some thought starters…

Do you have children? Do you recall in those early months of newborn care thinking, how can I survive on this amount of sleep? It feels impossible. Yet, here you sit reading this.

Did you go to college? Grad school? I find myself daily wondering how I will be able to get through all the papers, tests, research and writing of my Graduate Degree while working on my business, helping clients and trying to take care of my household, yet here I sit, only a few weeks away from finishing … something that at some points in my sleep deprivation felt impossible. I’ll bet you could say or remember the same.

Have you had a dream job, or a dream trip you finally got to take?

Did you meet the perfect partner for yourself and are enjoying a healthy, happy relationship?

Did you finish a race, place in a competition or start a new project?

All these wonderful milestones and achievements in our life once probably felt impossible. If you can look back to all the possibilities you’ve achieved, it can help fuel your advance toward creating the impossible of today.

If you’re over thirty, like me, you can probably easily recall a time when cell phones were impossible. I grew up riding my bike around a neighborhood and listening out for my mother’s familiar call through the evening air that dinner was ready. In junior high and high school, if mom was late to pick me up from track practice, I sat and waiting with no way to know what was causing the delay. When I met friends for movies or shopping, I simply had to trust they would show. In college I got my first cell phone. It was revolutionary. By the end of college I had sent my first text (this is stupid, I thought, who would do this over a call?). Then a phone with a camera. Then in 2011 I got my first iPhone and the world was never the same. Today we think about life without the internet or our cell phones as impossible, but you know as well as I, that it was quite possible — we lived it!

 

  1. Lean, don’t push

If you are resisting something, you are feeding it. Any energy you fight, you are feeding.” – Michael Singer

The concept of leaning gently into the impossible took a fair amount of time for me to master. I still am learning every day about all the places in life I resist and push against the impossible (weight gain? PUSH! Lose a client? PUUUUSH! Have an argument? PUUUUUUSH!). You get the idea.

The thing with the impossible that I have learned to do is this. Start with a gentle thought that you can feel comfortable accepting, then try to build gently to it until it gets to feel like too much, like you’re on the edge of the cliff and going to fall in. You want to build the bridges between today and the impossible with gentle forward-looking thoughts and statements. Like walking across a tightrope, then a rope bridge, then eventually a stronger and stronger bridge, each time crossing the chasm will require delicate, deliberate steps forward so you aren’t knocked off your balance with thoughts that are too big a leap. Equally important, each time your thoughts, words and actions take these gentle steps along the bridge between today and impossible, the construction gets stronger and the steps become easier to take.

Here’s a tangible way to do this. Think about the impossible (e.g. let’s say it’s writing your first piece for publication). You think, I can’t do it. I’m not a writer. I’m too busy. My family needs this other time from me.

You’re falling off the bridge before you start!

Try backing off from that pushy stance with this progressive exercise.

Start: I’d like to write my first piece for publication but it feels impossible, so I’m going to back off from that thought to something softer.

Soften: I may not be able to write a whole piece today, but I could come up with a topic idea for me piece and write that down.

Do. I’ve got 10 minutes, I will just take 10 minutes to sit at this desk with pad and paper and write down the topic and 3 title ideas.

Once you’ve done the exercise, acknowledge the effort.

Acknowledge: Hey, that wasn’t so bad. In fact, that was really easy. Tomorrow I’ll bet I can find 5 or 10 minutes to just quickly jot out an outline.

Repeat.

It’s a nice way to be easy on yourself and not push so hard against the seemingly impossible that you derail yourself. Another thing I love to ask myself when I’m at the acknowledge step (which by the way is a CRUCIAL piece of achieving the impossible – no beating up on yourself allowed, only gratitude to yourself for what you DID do, not guilt over what you didn’t!) is to ask this simply, but revolutionary question.

This question is so important it literally changed my life in 2014.

 

“And what else is possible?”

That’s it. Just ask yourself as you complete and achieve all the amazing things you do every day, “and I wonder what else is possible?”

It will open your mind, body and soul up to the opportunities of your whole life.

I ask myself that question probably 10 or 20 times a day. Finished a workout, “And I wonder what else is possible today?” Finished a project, “What else is possible?” Frustrated because my drive to NASA is going slow? “And I wonder what else is possible for my commute in this morning?”

This question will change your life.

It’s March 1st. A new month, a new season and, I wonder, what else is possible for you?

This simple fact will change your life

Image Credit: PBS.org
Image Credit: PBS.org

The year is 1854 and something incredible has just happened. Abraham Gesner, a geologist and doctor has just solved the distilling process necessary to refine black coal into not gasoline, but kerosene – a new, revolutionary long burning and stable light source for the American public. It was a sensation. Prior to kerosene, other oils and candles were used for light source, but they were expensive, fast burning and often unstable.

 

There were no public utilities to speak of at that time, so when the sun went down, the streets were pretty much dark, as was your home unless you were wealthy enough to keep the candles or the midnight oil burning (know you know where that saying comes from!).

 

Kerosene really began to take off in the mid 1860s when self-made titan of industry John D. Rockefeller standardized the distilling of his kerosene, guaranteeing its quality to the public and mass-producing it under his new company’s name: Standard Oil.

 

Americans had a new way to affordably and reliably get kerosene to light their cities and their homes.

 

Yet just a few years later in 1879, power-financier J.P. Morgan’s investment in inventor Thomas Edison would make their first demonstration of the latest lighting technology: the incandescent light bulb, powered by electricity.

 

The year is 1869 and if you’re a settler in the Utah Valley, odds are good you’re here.

 

What’s the event?

 

The ceremonial driving of the “Last Spike” at Promontory Summit on May 10, joining the east coast to the west coast with the first transcontinental railroad. With the driving of that spike, what had been a perilous, deadly and four-month trip by horse and wagon transformed with the swing of a hammer into a less than four day, comfortable affair by rail.

 

Before the Civil War (which lasted between 1861 and 1865), the primary mode of transportation was shipping via rivers, ocean and canals, or overland routes via horse and wagon. A long, inefficient process that was dangerous by land and long by ship (the Panama Canal wasn’t constructed until 1914) around South America.

 

The self-made industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt had been building his shipping empire from one canal boat up to the peak of his massive 1864 fleet, when he sold all his shipping holdings (to the value of roughly $30 million dollars) and invested the bulk of his fortune in rail roads, seeing they were the future of America.

 

No doubt the railroad was an incredible advancement over the ship routes and land routes, but all that was blown away in the early 1900s when aviation became a reality thanks to Glenn Curtiss and the Wright Brothers.

 

All these events in history beg the question: wouldn’t it just have been easier to build the airplane or start with electricity?

 

America could’ve skipped right over the railroad lines and kerosene lamps and really made a technological leap to innovation.

 

Of course not!

 

Why?

 

Innovation is iterative.

 

Rarely does innovation came as a quantum leap.

 

Innovation comes from iterations of advancement, small quantum leaps in ideas and mindsets.

 

It would sure be easier if you were born and went straight to running, but alas as the saying goes, you have to crawl before you run.

 

Why even mention this? It’s so obvious!

 

Because success is iterative, too — and you should never be afraid of being terrible at something and use that as an excuse not to get started.

 

Just remember, you were a terrible runner as an infant. You were. But that didn’t stop you from learning and iterating until you could walk and run and play with all the other kids in the neighborhood.

 

In the immortal words of my friend, and IndieGoGo co-founder, Adam Chapnick, “Don’t be afraid to suck.”

 

In fact, he used to tell me, it’s actually really important you suck when you start because that’s how you iterate, improve and innovate.

 

Don’t be suckered into the quantum leap shiny object daydream. The folks that quantum leap their finances with the lottery often end up right back where they started in a few years.

 

You probably wonder why, but it’s because they didn’t iterate. They didn’t learn the important steps along the way to finance, saving, investments and money management. When you bypass the railroad and go straight to airplanes, you will likely crash and burn. You’ve seen it in folks who get promoted too fast and don’t know how to manage their teams or the responsibility. Folks who become famous overnight and end up tabloid clichés.

 

The list goes on and on.

 

You don’t get to your dream job overnight. You don’t build your small business empire by quantum leap. You aren’t going to do ten push-ups tonight and have amazing “First Lady” arms in the morning.

 

It’s the iterative, consistent steps in between crawling and running that teach you how to stand upright, navigate with confidence and gain your own sense of balance.

 

You can do this.

 

Now take the first step and tell us in the comments below, how you plan to get started.

 


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