“How Long Is It Going to Be Before I Demand the Best For Myself?”

This quote from Epictetus forces us to be honest with ourselves. We question whether we are doing the best for ourselves at this time. If not, why? Are we waiting for the “perfect time” to be a better person or take action? It’s so easy to make excuses for a number of things, but is putting this off making you any better?

The Stoics often speak on the theme of perfectionism and how we can never expect perfection in life. Instead, we must be resilient to the obstacles in our path and continue our journey with persistence. How often do we find ourselves saying things like “Oh, I’ll do [   ] 3 years from now,” “Right now I am just too busy for [   ]” You fill in the blank. We all say these sort of phrases but, will there ever be the perfect time to do anything, or is it really just procrastination? (Feel free to answer but it is a rhetorical question). So now back to Epictetus’s question, “How long is it going to be before I demand the best for myself?”

New Year’s resolutions are a perfect example of the idea that Epictetus is trying to get across. Every year we wait for a new start of the year to get healthy, read more, get a degree, etc. Why do we wait for this time when we can start right now?

The reality is, there will never be a more perfect time than now. We do not know what will become of our lives in the future and the new challenges it will pose. Rather, let’s make the decision to demand the best for ourselves while we can, in this very moment. What better time?!

For myself, there are definitely goals that I have set and not accomplished. Perhaps I am making excuses and procrastinating on these feats. Let’s see…

For example, it has been a year since I first began looking for an investment property. The potentially procrastinating side of me says, “There are no homes I am interesting in purchasing, maybe it is just not a good time in the market for me to buy.” Though I am always looking every day, I am WAITING for the right property to appear. Furthermore, I have not made offers on any properties and, at times, I find myself reasoning about the inflated nature of the current real estate market does not allow for me to make a BIG investment mistake. Will there ever be the perfect time to buy in the market? Will there ever be the perfect house? The answer is no, Alex. It is okay to be cautious, just make sure you are not making excuses for yourself.

In conclusion, what I am trying to present here is that we all have goals we are putting off for the “right time,” but understand that we can only have influence over what is happening right now in this moment, not later. Whether it is a specific action-goal or simply being a better parent, being a healthier person, being a better teacher, etc. Ask yourself this question, “How long is it going to be before I demand the best for myself?” And answer, “No longer.”

“Why Reinvent the Wheel?”

This popular phrase came up two times this week, and it got me actually thinking about its meaning. “Why reinvent the wheel?” is such a common vernacular that it can be easy to ignore its actual relevance. Both in work—regular work and real estate work—it came up in regards to “innovation,” though, this phrase sounds almost counter intuitive to innovation at first glance. The wheel was invented as a round, simple rolling object, a design we still utilize today. If this simple object has had such a lasting impact on the world for centuries, why feel the need to fix it or recreate it when it already works?

Innovation is about creating new ideas, products, even leads but think about the greatest “inventions.” Many of them were really more of improvements to already existing innovations from years or decades earlier. Take the IPhone, for example, perhaps deemed one of the greatest innovations of our generation. Though there has been a new generation to come out every other year, the consumer sees each product as its own innovation. However! What Apple is really doing is not reinventing their wheel, just sharpening it, tweaking it, giving it a good oiling. At the end of the day, it is still the wheel.

Two main tasks I have been working on have been creating a logo for a project at work and also generating leads for my real estate endeavor. This phrase rung true in both instances. I remember a time when I would try to think way outside of the box, to try a method no one else had ever used to see if it might score me a competitive advantage. Let me tell you… It often does not. People will instead tell you to steal from the pros, do what they are doing because it is proof that it is already working.

When it comes to my task in creating this new logo design, I had this phrase in mind. I knew we wanted something with our company emblem on the design and also the name of our new program. “Why reinvent the wheel?” I said. “We already have a company emblem, so why not use it.” My final product had been a spin-off of our already-existing company logo, erasing some of the old wording and inserting some color and the name of our project. My team loved it! I made 12 different variations of this, which all came from essentially and already existing design.

Next is my real estate endeavors. Overtime I had learned my lesson about marketing and generating leads, which had been a direct derivative of this phrase. Many people rely on fancy marketing and social media to hopefully obtain leads, having little control over who and how many people will see it and, if they are lucky, reach out. But, I know the one method that has worked timelessly… Cold calling. As uncomfortable as it may be for everyone, if this is a method that every sales book, mentor, coach, etc. has suggested WORKS, why try anything different? That is just my own opinion on the matter.

This week I was able to really exercise the meaning and actions this phrase prompts in my own life, intentionally. We will see if this logo goes over well with upper management and if I will get any more listing appointment prospects from my cold calling method.

You can grease it, but don’t reinvent the wheel.

Creativity in 30 Seconds ~Poem-Not a Poem

Pen to paper is my favorite form of dear expression,

No real care for quality, but still a masterpiece in essence.

Judgment is the only thing to ever folly the craft.

A care for opinions, critics, and cynical responses, in fact.

Beyond the worry and care are these creative flows,

One suppressed in so many as the story often goes.

“Who cares what I say? What a silly way to be.”

“I’ll keep it to myself, locked away without a key!”

Now I see all that comes with such expression.

Sharing of art is just as joyous without attention!

No matter if I am the only one to ever view.

Creativity is exclusively yours, a way to be you.

The Correlation Between Creativity and Vulnerability

It was interesting to watch an interview with Donald Glover (also known as Childish Gambino), who seems to be trending heavily right now, Issa Rae and other writers who were speaking about creativity and how they have cultivated their creative expression. What I found to be the most intriguing had been all of their mention of the correlation between creativity and vulnerability!

Much of the conversation revolved around the writing of their shows and movies, and how improvisational acting was completely different. They spoke about how improv acting is completely raw so it requires a NEED to be vulnerable or you will fail.

When you think about what improv is, it makes sense. Improvisational acting is unscripted, and instead, actors work off of the unanticipated dialogue between other actors and their energies. As Glover expressed, to be creative and succeed in improv, you need to be vulnerable and not think about how you look, how you should, act or what you should say. Rather, you need to get into a space where the mind is free to accept and work off of the energies of those performing with you.

He speaks of the writing he does for Atlanta, where he encourages many of his actors to perform improvisational scenes. He claims he provides two scenarios for the actors to work off of, and come time for the scene he encourages them to spontaneously choose to take the scene in one direction or another to create an unexpected need for improvising with the other participating actors.

As a result, Glover believes this vulnerability, this freedom to be expressive forced by the unanticipated conditions of a situation and the accepting of one another’s’ energies, creates for a more real and interesting portrayal of a scene. Issa Rae had then expressed she does something similar in her show, Insecure, which I happen to be a watcher of, so it makes a lot of sense when I found out that improv is also a critical component in her narrative. Much of the conversations, expressions and situations in the show seem so free-flowing and real-life, and it is because oftentimes they are.

Understanding the correlation between creativity and vulnerability sent me into one of those rabbit-hole thoughts, I so often mentioned. I thought about how such a high percentage of us with creative talent, and I do believe everyone has some sort of creativity within them, end up never expressing our talent because we refuse to be vulnerable. School teaches us to be invulnerable, to acquire a degree, leading us in a direction of obtaining a stable job and following all of the rules to lead a “secure” life.

Essentially, this conditioning is killing creativity everywhere. We doubt our talents and our capabilities. We not only want a parachute when we jump out of the plane, but we also need it to land exactly 100 yards away from our house or we don’t want to do it at all. As a result of this conditioning, we hide our vulnerabilities and, in turn, our creativity, some of which will be hidden away forever for no one to see… EVER.

If you are willing to be vulnerable, perhaps you will be able to discover a creativity you never believed to be there or perhaps it will give you the courage to express the creativity you always knew you had. I don’t think its matter of who is and who is not creative, it who is willing to be vulnerable enough to express new ideas and show themselves to others who will probably judge them. Many of us, myself included, rather not most of the time. But, let’s break though this conditioning and get creative! Woo!