Seth Godin is an absolute gem of a human being and I continue to be truly grateful for the blog posts he puts out into the world on a daily basis. The following two posts were ones that particularly resonated with me. The full text is below. The original posts can be found here and here respectively. Risk give and give generously.
Where Would We Be Without Failure
Failure (and the fear of failure) gives you a chance to have a voice….
Because failure frightens people who care less than you do.
Rules For Working In A Studio
Don’t hide your work
Ask for help
Tell the truth
Upgrade your tools
Don’t hide your mistakes
Add energy, don’t subtract it
If you’re not proud of it, don’t ship it
Know the rules of your craft
Break the rules of your craft with intention
Make big promises
Let others run, ever faster
Learn something new
Criticize the work, not the artist
Power isn’t as important as productivity
Honor the schedule
You are not your work, embrace criticism
Sign your work
Obsess about appropriate quality, ignore perfection
A studio isn’t a factory. It’s when peers come together to do creative work, to amplify each other and to make change happen. That can happen in any organization, but it takes commitment.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post them below. The more, the merrier.
This bit of inspiration comes to us by way of Vanity Fair Magazine. The original article can be found here. Or you can read the full text below. Enjoy!
“At its spring gala, the Roundabout Theatre Company honored Sam Mendes, prolific director of theater—his King Lear and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are both currently playing in London—and films, including Skyfall and American Beauty.
The event, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan, included speeches and performances from Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, and Alan Cumming, who did a number from Cabaret, which Mendes is bringing to Broadway this season. Some Mendes collaborators weighed in via video, including one clip in which Judi Dench and Daniel Craig joined in singing “Cabaret.”
After reviewing his career highlights, in depth, the British Academy Award winner said, “One of the things I love about Americans is you do massive ego trips incredibly well. Blimey. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many photographs of myself. I didn’t even know they existed.” Mendes also noted that while tributes are wonderful, they are backward looking, and then decided to share what he’s learned along the way. “If there are any directors out there in the audience, or anyone who’s interested in directing, I’ve written 25 steps towards becoming a happier director. These are them:
- Always choose good collaborators. It seems so obvious, but the best collaborators are the ones who disagree with you. It means they’re passionate, they have opinions, and they’ll only ever say yes if they mean it.
- Try to learn how to make the familiar strange, and the strange familiar. Direct Shakespeare like it’s a new play, and treat every new play as if it’s Shakespeare.
- If you have the chance, please work with Dame Judi Dench.
- Learn to say, “I don’t know the answer.” It could be the beginning of a very good day’s rehearsal.
- Go to the ancient amphitheater at Epidaurus, in Greece. It makes you realize what you are a part of, and it will change the way you look at the world. If you’re an artist, you will feel central, and you will never feel peripheral again.
- Avoid, please, all metaphors of plays or films as “pinnacles” or “peaks”; treat with absolute scorn the word “definitive”; and if anyone uses the word “masterpiece,” they don’t know what they’re doing. The pursuit of perfection is a mug’s game.
- If you are doing a play or a film, you have to have a secret way in if you are directing it. Sometimes it’s big things. American Beauty, for me, was about my adolescence. Road to Perdition was about my childhood. Skyfall was about middle-age and mortality. Sometimes it’s small things. Maybe it’s just a simple idea. What if we do the whole thing in the nightclub, for example. But it’s not enough just to admire a script, you have to have a way in that is yours, and yours alone.
- Confidence is essential, but ego is not.
- Theater is the writer’s medium and the actor’s medium; the director comes a distant third. If you want a proper ego trip, direct movies.
- Buy a good set of blinkers. Do not read reviews. It’s enough to know whether they’re good or they’re bad. When I started, artists vastly outnumbered commentators, and now, there are a thousand published public opinions for every work of art. However strong you are, confidence is essential to what you do, and confidence is a fragile thing. Protect it. As T.S. Eliot says, teach us to care, and not to care.
- Run a theater. A play is temporary, a building is permanent. So try to create something that stays behind and will be used and loved by others.
- You are never too old to learn something new, as I was reminded when I learned to ski with my 10-year-old son. He, of course, did it in about 10 minutes, and I spent four days slaloming up and down, looking like a complete tit. But, don’t be scared of feeling like a complete tit. It’s an essential part of the learning process.
- There is no right and wrong, there is only interesting, and less interesting.
- Paintings, novels, poetry, music are all superior art forms. But theater and film can steal from all of them.
- There are no such things as “previews” on Broadway.
- Peter Brook said, “The journey is the destination.” Do not think of product, or, god forbid, audience response. Think only of discovery and process. One of my favorite quotes from Hamlet—Polonius: “By indirections find the directions out.”
- Learn when to shut up. I’m still working on this one.
- When you have a cast of 20, this means you have 20 other imaginations in the room with you. Use them.
- Please remember the Oscars are a TV show.
- Get on with it. Robert Frost said, “Tell everything a little faster.” He wasn’t wrong.
- The second production of a musical is always better than the first.
- Learn to accept the blame for everything. If the script was poor, you didn’t work hard enough with the writer. If the actors failed, you failed them. If the sets, the lighting, the poster, the costumes are wrong, you gave them the thumbs-up. So build up your shoulders, they need to be broad.
- On screen, your hero can blow away 500 bad guys, but if he smokes one fucking cigarette, you’re in deep shit.
- Always have an alternative career planned out. Mine is a cricket commentator. You will never do this career, but it might help you get to sleep at night.
- Never, ever, ever forget how lucky you are to do something that you love.”
I imagine there may be more posts on inspiration. This poem, attributed to Sir Francis Drake, seemed like a great way to start. Enjoy!
Disturb us, Lord
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
attributed – Sir Francis Drake -1577