The Causative Nature of “Interest”

Every Process eventually reaches an impasse where the values, goals, and visions get reexamined. At this point, the person or group behind the Process can decide which of these to keep, which to modify, which to throw away, and ultimately, whether to continue to engage (stick) or whether to hang it up.

Even if a company is doing well, the owner can decide to sell it if it is no longer in his interest to oversee it. By contrast, if the same company is suffering, the owner might decide to invest some more time and money and really do all that he can to pull it through. What he does depends first and foremost on his interest.

There are a lot of factors that may go into the decision of whether to stick or to get out. A financial concern will have a much different kind of effect than a personal one. But in the end, the decision will be made based on what the business venture, the relationship, the creative process, means to whomever is facing the fork in the road. Emotional investment outplays all. That’s what I mean by “interest.”

Sometimes it can be hard to see what the right move to make is. Maybe a change of direction is needed, but there is a lack of certainty as to how or where. Perhaps the Vision doesn’t need to be replaced, but massaged a bit. And maybe it was just a routine checkup, and everything can continue more or less as before. The outcome, however, will always be directly connected to the same phenomenon that got the whole thing started – a conviction, a sentiment, a feeling.

Gravity

The sort of individuals who have had the biggest effect on me have been the kind of people who were the least concerned with having an effect. Their presence was big, through no effort on their part. If they were musicians, people listened, if they were artists, people looked. If they were teachers, people learned.

In Nashville, Tennessee, I ran into a couple of musicians who I perceived to have a big effect on not just me, but other folks as well, and who did so through a medium that was bigger than their music. Maybe “medium” is the wrong word. I like to think of it as “Gravity.”

This “Gravity” seemed to be magnetic, in a way. If I was to say where it came from, I could only use metaphysical terms like “well-grounded” or “character,”  but that wouldn’t paint the whole picture. But whatever it was, I could tell these men stood for something.

The thing that struck me the most was that they attracted people. If you were lucky enough to introduce yourself or be introduced, you felt as though they were somehow calling you to be more. When they played their songs, you were listening to them, not so much the song.

“Gravity” is earned through being a certain kind of person, not necessarily from obsession with technique or virtuosity – or any kind of isolation. You can’t separate the Music, or the Art, from the Man. But the Man is still there when the song ends.

Navigating by Feel: The Essence of True Strength

We live in a very mind-centered world. Thanks to social media and texting, we have more time than ever to plan out our communications in the perfect way. Technical know-how is encouraged, as is strategy, tact, and autonomy, all requiring a great deal of mental strength.

I, for one, spend a lot of time in my Head. Whether I am a child of nature or nurture, the way I approach the world involves a lot of thinking, contemplating, “philosophizing”. It’s what I like to do, it’s part of how I operate.

But enough about me. I’m just one example of a kind of person in today’s world – a kind of person that you may know, or even be yourself. And this thought-centered way of being may be very useful, but, as with such things, can also be debilitating.

I think Emerson said it best:

What a contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking American, with a watch, a pencil, and a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the naked New-Zealander, whose property is a club, a spear, a mat, and an undivided twentieth of a shed to sleep under! But compare the health of the two men, and you shall see that the white man has lost his aboriginal strength. If the traveller tell us truly, strike the savage with a broad axe, and in a day or two the flesh shall unite and heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch, and the same blow shall send the white man to his grave. [Self-Reliance]

The more “cultured” we become, the more we have the danger of relying on the Brain to help us navigate. As information increases at an exponential rate, cluttering our consciousness, we can go one of two ways: we can either become more analytical, more thought-oriented, or we can become more feeling-oriented.

In times of doubt, Thought Orientation is often the best policy. A problem needs to be solved, information is gathered, experiments performed, and conclusions drawn based on impartial data. But, as today’s methods of navigating the fields of business and relationships become less and less like yesterday’s, Feeling Orientation may prove to be even more effective.

The kicker is, intuition and “going with the gut” are not things that can be taught, and therefore, not fostered by society. We’re not necessarily going to see them encouraged or advertised. But that’s OK, because we were born knowing how to do them. Learning to navigate our world by “feeling it out” is one of our most primal instincts. And perhaps, needed now more than ever.

The Best Way To Grow

I saw a quote today that resonated deeply: “A strong man is strongest when alone.” – Friedrich Schiller.

This speaks to a theme, one that I touched on in yesterday’s post. In the context of the Impresario, he or she still has a duty to connect to or “seduce” him or herself when not in the presence of an audience, or any others to share the Vision.

I take this quote to mean essentially that what we do when no one is around, when no one is looking, is who we truly are, and what shapes our character. This is an uncomfortable thought for me – and that’s precisely why I’m bringing it to the table.

I’m sure I’m no different than anyone else in not wanting to feel as though my behavior or my values are up for some kind of scrutiny during my alone time. When it’s just me, I like to sleep late and eat cookies.

It’s not as though there is a hidden camera placed by the gods in our rooms – a “Santa Claus” who decides who’s naughty and nice based on the way we conduct our private lives. But if anyone is to hold me accountable for my private life, it must be, well, me.

I like this philosophy because I find it to be a window into the secrets of where exactly we can grow. There’s not a weakness in the armor, no matter how conveniently inaccessible, that won’t be revealed when we’re alone.

Does The Impresario Need An Audience?

Everyone likes an audience. Well, every Impresario, anyway. Audiences grant legitimacy, validation, and the feeling that our message is landing somewhere, that our voice is being heard, that our performance is being witnessed. Perhaps more than this, an audience could at least partially be made up of more hungry people – people the Impresario can connect to one another, and maybe even encourage to become Impresarios themselves.

This is all in an idea world. But is an audience alwaynecessary?

What if an audience isn’t available? Is it possible for an Impresario to be an Impresario? Can he still be the connector, the collaborator, the seducer, when there is no audience – when it’s just him and the Muse?

To recap, an Impresario “seduces” by knowing how to engage with people socially, and from there, build a playing ground where relationships are formed and Art – or some shared Cause or Vision – is experienced. The key here is that relationships are at the forefront. This can happen anywhere, in any context, as long as people share common ideas or visions – from, say, an art exhibit, to a group lobbying for the preservation of an endangered species of plant.

But if the Impresario is on his own, without the company of other people who can share the Vision, he can still “seduce.” Only this time, he must “seduce” himself. Just because there is no audience, no other visionaries, does not mean the Impresario can’t still fill all of those roles he would fill if those others were around. He still has a relationship with himself to maintain.

I stumbled across this idea by accident today. It hadn’t occurred to me that the Impresario could still be an Impresario with no one else around. But now that I think about it, those quiet moments could be the most crucial of all.

The Impresario as Seducer

Seduction is a field where most of us tread lightly. We look askance and shrug our shoulders, we don’t venture into that forest, because, well, we are afraid. We have a vague idea of seduction being some kind of manipulation, something that is ethically wrong.

Seduction is not ethically wrong. In fact, if you are friends with somebody, anybody, it is because you and that person seduced each other, and still are.

When a musician puts on a concert for an audience, if it is a successful concert, he is seducing them. If a marketer succeeds in selling something – he seduced the buyer. If two strangers start to engage each other in conversation, you guessed it: seduction.

We are being seduced constantly, by friends, family, influences, and interests. Seduction is so common that it abounds everywhere without us even being aware of it.

So what does being an Impresario have to do with Seduction? Everything. An Impresario’s most important tool is Seduction. He uses it not to manipulate, but to facilitate a space: a space where other people can interact and share what matters to them. An Impresario knows how to do this because he thoroughly understands how to make people comfortable. He’s been in the social trenches – he knows how to introduce himself to strangers, and to introduce a stranger to another stranger. He is a connector. He is a Seducer.

It’s unfortunate that the word “Seduction” has been handed such a negative reputation. There is nothing in it that implies control, or acting against the will of another. Quite the opposite, actually. True seduction works through both parties. A piece of music, a work of art, even a conversation, is most enjoyed when the musician, the artist, or the converser allows him or herself to be swept up into an energy, a feeling, that is bigger than them. It has nothing to do with control – it’s more of a Surrender.

A Paradigm of Trust

After the show tonight, I was talking with my friend and colleague, Eric Forbis. I was pleased to hear that he had been diligently keeping up with this blog (I still get a swell of pride any time someone mentions they’ve been reading). Our conversation drifted over to family matters – Eric had recently had a son. Eric, like me, is an introvert, but he expressed a desire to have his son, in his words, “walk through the world and see the person coming toward him as a friend.”

This thought really struck me. We had also been discussing the Impresario, and how an Impresario sees relationships with people as paramount. For an introvert, this can sometimes be tricky – I know it was for me, and still is, in fact. But the idea of seeing a stranger as a friend, and starting from this assumption, could be a great way to start to operate in this worldview.

Trusting a stranger is certainly not what we were taught as kids, and it certainly doesn’t come without a degree of risk. And I’m not espousing that we should go around trusting every single person we see. But there is something to be said for the default setting of looking for the best in everyone we encounter.

“Smile, and the world smiles with you,” goes the saying, and I think it holds true when we meet a new person, or find ourselves in a room full of new people. Whether our role is simply to acknowledge a passersby, or to give a lecture, we can always start off on the right foot with a smile – or, at least, an awareness of the common fact of Humanity that we all share.

Operating from a paradigm of trust, things happen on a level beyond simply strangers “being nice” to each other. Psychological phenomenons take effect – we start to see what we expect, and others in turn do the same. We are free to expect what we like. If the trend were to start off expecting to meet a friend, then maybe seeing eye to eye would be all that’s left to do.

The Risk of Presentation

To present oneself in the World, one runs the risk of not being accepted. This is the biggest heartbreak anyone can experience, because it means that all our ideologies, our worldviews, our character traits, all that makes us who we are, could not hit home. And we want it to hit home, because we want to be understood.

Whether we’re presenting our Art to an audience or some vulnerabilities to a single person, we’re setting ourself up for possible loss. Loss of our confidence, loss of approval, loss of love, even. When we step up to the plate and say, “This is me,” we’re preparing to meet some kind of a storm.

These days, we can’t not face the music. If we’re not hiding, we’re out in plain sight. Right in the view of the scope. And once we’re there, there’s no turning back.

Being honest is hard because it requires us to communicate stuff about ourselves that we may not even entirely be comfortable with. True honesty is rare – it is found in all good Art, and in all successful relationships.

There is no difference between an Artist and a Person In The World. They both have to face the music – that is, if they want to stand a chance of being understood, of hitting home. For both the Artist and the Person, hitting home is a victory. But if whoever we’re presenting to decides that they want no part in our honesty, that too is a victory.

How To Engage

A couple of blog posts ago, I defined the Impresario as someone who engages with life. It can really be anyone, regardless of whether that person identifies with herself as an “Artist” or not. If she is truly engaging, she is an Impresario.

OK, what does it mean to “engage with life”?

Everyone is at whatever stage they’re at. Built into our human neurology is a drive to become better – to get from where we’re at to another, higher level. I touched a bit on this on the last post with the idea of evolution.

I suppose to “engage with life” would mean to consciously be doing the actions needed to get to this next level of consciousness. This could be interpreted in a variety of different ways, but I think generally could boil down to the following:

1) Noticing.

2) Acting.

3) Sharing.

The Impresario knows where she’s at. She knows where she’s ahead of the game, and which areas could stand a little more attention. She then decides to Act – to design her life in such a way that allows for her personal and creative growth, whatever that looks like to her. Finally, she shares this with the outside world.

It’s this last bit that I am most interested in, because it’s how an Impresario shares her work that truly defines her. The true Impresario takes advantage of every outlet possible, from physical venues to social media networks. This means that there are now hundreds, or thousands, of ways to Share.

It makes sense to the Impresario that to have the greatest effect on the world, she should reach as many people as possible. And all Impresarios want to have a big effect on the world. We’ve all heard pocketbook sayings like “A journey starts with a single step,” or “Change yourself, change your world”. But these sentiments aren’t enough anymore. Not for the Impresario.

The Impresario of course wants to change herself. She wants to change the world. But, above all, she wants to share this change with others. She wants to give, she wants to inspire, she wants to tell her story. And when she does this, when she engages with the people in her world, that’s when she can truly change everything.

 

The Secret to Life

Here’s the secret to life: become world class at everything you do.

I big problem I’ve faced in the past is being overwhelmed: looking around at everything I not only need to do, but want to do for myself, and noticing that it’s just too damn much. I don’t know where to start, so I don’t start anywhere.

Well, that’s a mistake. I’ve wasted months of my life not acting out of fear – simply because I didn’t get, on a deep, practical level – that all I had to do was pick something. But, as it turns out, picking something is actually the hardest part.

Going back to a couple of blog posts ago, where I brought up the first stage where the resistance is the most powerful (remember the “rocket ship” analogy?), the hardest part about any activity is the first part. Stephen Pressfield calls it “sitting down to work.” I’m sure there’s a thousand gurus out there who have their own distinct names for it.

But let’s face it: there are only twenty-four hours in a day. And of those hours, we do need to find time for the basics (sleep, diet, and exercise), and, whatever other pressing matters needing attention. Those come first, and whatever’s left, that’s where the real Work can happen.

Once we pick a few things, we’ve committed. We have to follow through until they’ve been mastered, or, at least, seen out to a degree we feel adequate. Since there is limited time for this process of mastery, we can develop systems with which to address each thing, and how often we’d like to address it. We can be as organized or as non-organized as we like – whatever works.

Once we stick with each Thing, something magical starts to happen – we begin to take on an intimacy with it, and a feeling that we are tackling it. Some things might take longer to tackle than others, but it’s the process that’s key.

It seems to me that’s what it means to be “world class” – you’re committed to a process. Not so concerned about the actual tackling. The tackling will happen if I stick with the Thing over a period of time. I’m not trying to rush it. I’m just interested in what I have to do today.