Editor’s note: The original article was published in January 2012. Also, I want to give a big thanks to anyone who came out to UTM’s book launch last night in Toronto and supported a bunch of new authors. A special thanks to those who bought my book, Lessons for Creative People. For anyone else interested in getting a copy, you can order it online at my publisher’s website.
Kevin Spacey’s interview on Inside the Actor’s Studio is inspiring. In this short segment of the full interview, he explains to a young audience that when you achieve your dreams, there is no external prize.
Achieving success bestows only an internal prize—a feeling of fulfillment, resolve, strength, purpose.
The most satisfying aspect of doing creative work is watching yourself grow and your skills mature—and witnessing the universe crack to allow room for your dream to breath, grow, and manifest.
When actors see hard work pay off with better performance on stage—that experience of realizing their potential is the prize. Not the cars or toys that can be bought by way of their new contract.
When painters can direct their energy freely and fully towards the canvas—without worrying about how the rent will be paid—that’s the real prize.
You may be chasing after a vague notion of success. You want to feel successful. You want to raise your self-esteem, enjoy luxurious vacations, buy better things, live a better life—these are all earnest intentions and I don’t fully disagree with them, but they aren’t powerful enough to get you where you need to go.
Your motivation to achieve your dream has to come from within. When your drive dwells deep within you, you’ll have a purpose; you’ll know exactly what you want.
When your life has purpose, you’ll be inspired to make a detailed plan of action and work hard, deliberately, and persistently until that dream surrenders itself to you. But first you have to know why you do what you do.
Do you write/ paint/ compose/ sing/ draw because you have to? Does your creative work provide the only, or best, outlet for your soul to breathe? If you answer yes to these questions, then your motivational fuel tank is filled up and ready to be spent.
Stop hesitating and go.
A lion knows why he dashes after a zebra in an open field—he needs to eat. There’s no other option. It’s do-or-die.
The zebra is fast. He can flee, evade, elude, and slide. But he cannot hide. If the lion pursues long and hard enough, the zebra will get tired and sloppy. Sooner or later he’ll stumble, finally allowing the lion pounce and savour his hard-fought meal.
If we know why we’re running, and we run hard and long enough, our dreams, like the besieged zebra, cannot outrun us.
So ask yourself, why are you running?
Image by Demosh