There will be a time when you’ll think back to this moment and either regret that you didn’t act, or cherish that you did.
I’ve read almost all of Seth Godin’s books. He started losing me a bit right around Linchpin, when he started talking about art and artists, and sharing your art and so on. It sounded hokey and weird, with quotes like this:
“Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.” – Seth Godin
It took me years to understand what Seth was talking about in his books and posts. Creating art? Sharing Art? What does that have to do with anything? Especially in business?
Well, I finally cracked the code, and I’ll share one piece of it here with you. Something we’ll call a passion project.
Indulge your passion
A passion project doesn’t mean a side business, although it could grow into one. A passion project is often an indulgence of your deep inner desire to create. A drive to bring your ideas to life, whatever form they may take.
It could be a painting (Stephen’s Story), or putting up a free library in your neighbourhood, or spending an hour a week providing companionship at a senior home. It could be setting up a block party every year to build a stronger community, or getting a group of friends to help feed families of sick children (Laura’s Story).
The essence is that we owe it to ourselves to let it out. Embrace the need to create, and make your own dent in the universe.
Create. Not for the money. Not for the fame. Not for the recognition. But for the pure joy of creating something and sharing it.
Write the book you want to read
My passion project came to me sometime last year. In the fall. I remember the moment clearly. I was out for a walk with Jazz, listening to a podcast when it hit me. All this time, I’ve been publishing things I thought others would want to read or listen to. Which led to articles that sounded similar to what you could read almost anywhere else. I was one of many. Just a face, or an article, in the crowd.
So, that moment I decided to do something for me. Something that I am interested in. Something I want to read or listen to.
I’ve always been fascinated by people doing meaningful work. And so, the 26k podcast was born.
I pulled out my notebook (I always carry one with me. I actually MADE the one I’m using right now.) and immediately made a list of people I knew who inspired me. The minute we got home, I sent out the e-mails and made the calls. Right now, there are 8 episodes ready to be produced and published. The first one just went live in iTunes last week. You can listen to it, or not. Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t. But it’s my passion project and I encourage you to give yourself the gift of making something that you want to make. Something you want to see, or read, or hear, or touch. It could just be the best resolution you make this year.
Laura feeds families of sick kids
Late last night, around midnight, when I was writing this article, I posted a question on Twitter: “Do you have a passion project you’re working on?”
Within minutes I heard back from a few folks and decided to follow up with them. This is Laura’s Story:
“Team McAwesome started because I wanted to volunteer with my friends. Ronald McDonald’s Home For Dinner program sounded awesome so we looked into it.”
“8 people in the kitchen cooking up a storm for about 50 people. And suddenly we had an audience for all of those Pinterest recipes we kept pinning.”
“I stayed with it because I love organizing my friends all together for events. And these helped us all feel really good about giving back. So good, that friends started inviting friends and we are now at 83 members. We have been serving brunch for at least once a month since December 2011.”
“We won the 2012 Team Award from Ronald McDonald House. And we have been able to rally businesses in the community to donate products to our brunches (e.g. Candy from the Candy Kid, cupcakes from Buttercream Bakery).”
“Has it made an impact on my life outside of it? You better believe it. I have met a ton of creative people just as passionate about volunteering. I have furthered my culinary skills and I have been invited to speak to a group who donated to RMH on our behalf.”
“And at the end of a Sunday brunch, I know I helped to fuel a family before they trudge off to the hospital. Having little kids thank you for something as simple as breakfast before they are poked and prodded by doctors is pretty humbling. I truly hope the momentum of our group continues. :)”
Stephen paints for the love of it
I asked my friend Stephen, a creative director, what makes him pick up the brush and paint; does doing this help him in his regular work and what he does with his art when he’s done. Here are his answers:
“Hey man, yeah I do a little here and there. Did more years ago but then work gets in the way… So now and then I throw a canvas on the easel and wait until something hits me. It’s a way to get the gears turning in a way that got me into this business to begin with.”
“I forget that sometimes. I didn’t become a creative director because I loved advertising. I became a Creative Director because I loved creativity. So whether it’s an ad, a logo, a photo or a painting, it’s what drives and inspires me that’s important.”
“So to answer your other question, lately I’ve kept it around. I made my own pact that no junk art in my new place. It has to be created, whether it’s my own or a friend’s or a purchased piece. I have 4 of my own up now. One is a horse head I painted last year – Acrylic on board. Two are photos I took in Vancouver and then added acrylic paint to create a mixed media piece and the third is a little piece that I just threw together in 30 minutes because I wanted to test using resin coating over art. It’s hard to see from the pic but it’s super high gloss and looks pretty sharp so I kept it even if the art is meh.”
Say hello to Stephen.
Regrets of the dying
There are quite a few articles floating around these days with statements dying people make before they pass on. About the things they wish they did, but didn’t. I originally came across one of these a couple of years ago, when my mom was battling cancer and holy shit – it hit me right in the heart. Here is the article I read originally: Nurse Reveals The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.
Maybe if they had a chance to invest some time in their passion projects, there would be less regret? Maybe taking just an hour a week to embrace this inner desire to create would have made a difference. I don’t know. I know that my mom painted, and knitted, and made things. Those things will stay with me and the people she gave to, forever.
So, if you’re stuck for ideas, read through that article.
Getting started can be tough. It’s not like you can suddenly make a decision to make art, sit down at 7:15pm and create a masterpiece by 8:35pm when the kids have to go to bed. It’s much more organic then that, and it starts with carving out some time for yourself. But it’s worth it. Even for an hour a week.
Best of luck!