Tet celebrations in Sapa, Vietnam. I cropped this one to go with the “giants” theme, you know, Jack and The Beanstalk kind of stuff. Now I’m not sure which version I like better, the square crop or the original. EXIF: Canon 5D, 125mm, 1/1600 @ f/4.o, ISO 400.
First, thanks to everyone who participated in yesterday’s Twitterview, that was just too much fun. Thanks! Let’s do it again sometime.
It seems like ages ago that Gavin Gough and I traded blogs for a day. He wrote here, I wrote over at his place and we shared a theme; the notion of standing on the shoulders of giants. This isn’t about that. But there are giants involved. And I have to warn you, this one flirts dangerously with being touchy-feely and quasi-motivational, but as many of you seem to take some perverse pleasure from this kind of thing, I’ll leave you with it as we head into the weekend. It has significant bearing on the life creative, so don’t be scared off by it.
I’ve always loved the story of David and Goliath, though Jack and the Beanstalk runs a close second. In part because any story with a little runt named David carries a certain resonance for me, and in part because I generally champion the underdog. My favourite part of the story is when little David runs to meet the giant. He doesn’t stroll, doesn’t sneak in with caution. He runs. Approaching giants is intimidating at the best of times. But if the story’s to be believed, the rewards were solid. He gets the renown, the money, and the girl. ‘Nuff said.
I’m a fan, however intimidating it is, of approaching giants. The heroes we look to for inspiration got to where they are with alot of hard lessons learned. But they did get there. And I want some of that. Whatever it is. If it’s wisdom, I want it. If it’s connections and relationships, I want those too. if it’s just the chance to hear their stories and bask in the coolness they exude – I’ll take that, and make it double please. Selfish? Sure. But not only. I like the chance to tell these people how important they are to me, how vital their work, teachings, and influence, have been to me choosing and succeeding on my journey. And I like knowing that the wisdom they pass on to me will make me better and wiser and one day I will have the chance to pay it forward and pass it on when others look up to me.
I’ve said before that standing on the shoulders of giants is important. Reaching out and getting to know those giants is even better. I want to encourage you – at the risk of flooding in-boxes of heroes everywhere – to do that audacious thing you’ve been dreaming about. My life has been impacted in ways I can’t begin to measure by simply approaching my heroes and doing what I can to touch the hem of their garment. To my surprise they’ve all been more than gracious, especially if there’s an offer of lunch and a beer involved. Monday is the official release date of Within The Frame, and the starting place for that book deal was lunch with one of my heroes. The foreword to that book was written by another of my heroes, and that began with a long sarcastic email to the man. Ditto the afterword, though there was less sarcasm involved. Many of my best friendships are with people I just reached out to. To my shock, they reached back.
Sure, aspire to be like your heroes – but even better, approach them.
Whatever that giant is – whether it’s a client, a project, a new technique, or one of your heroes – the first step is the approach. If your particular giant is a person, take them to lunch, go to their lectures take a class or workshop with them. If they’re planning to be at Photoshop World, go to Photoshop World. Not everyone will respond, and those that do may not have the time to do much more than thank you for the effort, but you never know until you try, right?
The thing about approaching the giants in your life is that it’s scary as hell. In some ways that’s what makes them giants. In The War of Art, to which I refer more and more these days, Pressfield contends that the greater the fear the greater the indication that the thing of which you are afraid is in fact the thing you really MUST do. Here’s a quote, he’s talking about resistance, but if you assume that fear is often one of the greatest manifestations of resistance in the creative life, it’s a powerful thought:
“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North – meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing.
We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.
Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it”
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.
Have a great weekend. Don’t forget to get in on the Within The Frame Giveaway.