If anyone were to ask me what is the best website for learning and growing our mind, body, and yes, even our soul, I would recommend Brian Johnson’s Optimize. He discusses everything to live the best version of yourself, from health and fitness to meditation to being your most creative self. I have learned a lot from his Philosopher’s Notes and his Master Classes. Most of what he teaches is in complete flow with ZooFit. 

Friday I went over his Creativity 101 class from his Master Class series. It sparked a lot of reminders I wanted to share with everyone.

Brian breaks down his classes into ten Big Ideas, and then discusses each idea in depth. For Creativity 101, Brian gave us eleven (his creativity goes to eleven). Here are my big takeaways to the class, and how they relate to my writing life, and to ZooFit.

  1. Your #1 Creative Project…Your Life
    Never forget your life is your #1 creative project. You are a creative person and we all have potential. Step back and see your life as a canvas. Imagine your days as a color palette. What areas are the most colorful, where you are pursuing a creative life. What areas need a splash of creative coloring?
  2. What is Your Life’s Work?
    Imagine two Vinn diagrams. In the first one, there are three circles- one labeled Love, one labeled Great, and the last one labeled Money. The second diagram also has three circles- Joy, Money, and Flow. Where the three circles meet is your mission, your life’s work. What do you love to do? What gives you the most joy and fires you up? If you had a free day to do whatever you wanted, what would it be? Flow and Greatness determine what you are good at. What type of activity can you do all day, where time just evaporates? What do you feel you were “born to do”? And lastly, what does the world need? What can you do to go all in and be a service to the world, and make a living? Money is mentioned in both because when we are talking about your calling, we don’t mean a hobby, or something you do once in a while. This is YOU. Joy/Love, Flow/Greatness, and Money. Where does your passion meet in the middle? Take the leap and find your life’s work.
  3. Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You
    The difference between amateur and professional is amateurs do it for the love of the activity. Professionals love what they do so much they bet their life on it. What can you do to turn from amateur to professional. Steve Martin was asked by an aspiring comedian how to become famous like him. Steve Martin replied “be so good they can’t ignore you.” What can you do to not be ignored anymore. Turn that passion into craft.
  4. There Are No Naturals- Law of Mastery
    It takes many hours of practice to achieve mastery. Some philosophers and experts say you must engage in 10,000 hours of deep work to get better. It’s not going to take 3 days, or even 300 days. It could take 3000 days (close to 10 years) to achieve master. The bad news is there are no naturals. Picasso didn’t achieve mastery because he was talented. Mozart practiced daily from the time he was three or four to become the master of his art. No one is naturally gifted. The good news is there are no grinders either. There is no one who put in the amount of time and effort and didn’t achieve greatness. We all have to work for it, but it is achievable.
  5. Astronauts and Lunchpails
    This is a very simple idea. What is your biggest dream? What do you aspire to create? Dare to dream and own that vision. But don’t just dream it, be it, and do the work. Inspiration is for amateurs, the professional gets to work. Stephen King said in his book On Writing,  he shows up everyday whether he feels like it or not. He claims his muse isn’t a spirit who bestows words at a whimsy. His muse is an old crotchety man who smokes cigars and lives in the basement. Work for your dream. Blue collar it and pack your lunch, every, single, day.
  6. Move the C (Reactive to Creative)
    It’s funny, but reactive and creative are close words. Just move the C to the front and you go from reactive (checking emails, updating facebook, getting distracted) to creative. Create a system where you work on your creative project at the optimal time, and keep reactive measures away from you. These drain our energy and doesn’t leave us with productive creating times. Brian says “be boring if you want to be interesting.” I know that sounds ironic, but if you keep to a schedule where your day-to-day is boring and predictable, you will give yourself energy and time to lead an incredibly interesting creative life.
  7. Very Big Trashcans
    Another simple idea Brian has discussed before. Keep a mental trash can where you keep all your distractions. Peter Drucker, a well-known productivity expert, was once asked to participate in a study for a book about productivity. Drucker turned the researcher down, saying if he said yes to every request, he wouldn’t be as productive as he is. What types of distractions are holding you down? Learn to say no and toss them away. 
  8. 50 Pounds Versus the Perfect Bowl
    Here was another interesting experiment Brian has mentioned before. In an art class, the teacher divided the room and told one half they needed to produce 50 lbs of pottery to receive an A in the class. She didn’t care how great or perfect it was, but she wanted fifty pounds from each student. The other half of the class, the teacher instructed she wanted one perfect bowl from each of them in order to receive an A. Would you be surprised to hear the half who had to produce 50 lbs of pottery not only received the most A’s, but the QUALITY of their work was actually better than the other half who only had to produce one pot? Higher quantity will turn out higher quality. More than striving for the best quality from the start, and never getting it quite right, just practice a lot. Judge yourself on production, not perfection.
  9. Start, Finish, Ship, Repeat
    I had a personal trainer who would yell at his class to DO SOMETHING when he saw someone putzing around. I felt he could have been a little less drill sargenty, but he had a good mantra for those wanting to be productive and creative. Just do something. Just start something. Only, once you start, you have to finish. Finish what you start. Once you finish, ship it, put it out into the world. And then repeat the process. Start something. Finish it. Ship it out. Repeat. Do it whether you feel like it or not. Do this enough times (100s or 1000s of times), and you will be GREAT! 
  10. Troll Poop
    If you ship out, you are going to get feedback. It won’t always be positive, but learn to deal with the trolls. I mentioned this a few days ago with LRS, least reinforcing scenario. Be open to constructive feedback, even if it’s harsh, but you don’t need negativity in your life. You will never satisfy everyone, so let trolls go about their day, and move on with your work. “You will never be the jack-ass whisperer.” Don’t waste your energy and creative process on reacting and trying to convince the trolls. Work on yourself.
    Keep in mind we are our own #1 troll. Get your mind right and keep the radio in your head tuned into a positive station. Don’t listen to the negative tapes, what Anne Lamont calls KFKD. How can you eliminate the negative stimulations in your life?
  11. Fundamentals
    Brian Johnson always touches base on the fundamentals with each class. Want to build better habits? Check your eating, moving, and sleeping patterns. You want to be a good parent? Check your own fundamentals. I have also added mental health to my fundies list. I don’t do a lot of meditation, and I watch too much Netflix, which just stimulates me in the wrong way. But if I want a creative life, I have to take care of myself. My life is my #1 creative project. It won’t be a masterpiece if my fundamentals are out of whack.

That’s Creativity 101 in a nutshell. What big ideas stuck out for you? Which ideas do you want to incorporate into your daily life? And how can you create a beautiful masterpiece in your life?