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Creative Pathfinder- Learnings, Weeks 21-26

I embarked on the Creative Pathfinder journey on September 3, 2010 – eight months ago! And I’ve so enjoyed the experience – every step on the “path” I’m finding/creating. I’ve said it before, but need to say it again: Mark McGuinness is smart, and wise, and insightful, and Creative, and most generous to share this course for Free. It’s worth a lot. I’ve benefited a great deal in these eight months of examining myself and learning methods and practices to increase my productivity and success.

Lesson 21
Topic = What Motivates Us?
Insights

The funny thing is, the work is usually quite enjoyable when you get going and intrinsic motivation takes over. But to get you going in the first place place, you sometimes need the extrinsic motivation of ‘deadline magic’.
-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 22
Topic = Rejection and Criticism
Insights

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Lesson 23
Topic = Difficult People

People are much more complex than the labels we stick on them.
-Mark McGuinness

Insights

In Aikido, Harmony, and the Business of Living (Zanshin Press), Richard Moon calls the practice of being fully present and fully aware “Feel Where You Are.” If you are to truly listen, engage, and empathize with someone challenging you then you yourself must be completely aware of your situation and aware of their situation and all the subtle signals. One who is fully in the present cannot be caught off guard. “Feeling where you are,” says Moon, “refines awareness into attention.
-Garr Reynolds

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Lesson 24
Topic = Fun and Informative Presentations
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Lesson 25
Topic = Managing Creatives
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Lesson 26
Topic = Measuring Success
Insights

Maybe you want to save the world, or at least part of it. Or maybe you want to delight and amaze it, which is just as valid. But if you don’t make it a priority, you risk falling short.
-Mark McGuinness

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Creative Pathfinder- Learnings, Weeks 17-20

This quartet of lessons from Mark McGuinness takes us through the fundamentals of protecting and sharing our intellectual property, recognizing and utilizing our many non-monetary assets, and knowing our self.

Lesson 17

Topic = Protect Your Work, Respect Their Work

Insights

…since ideas and their execution are the basis of your creative and commercial success, you can’t afford to be ignorant about intellectual property.

-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 18

Topic = Share!

Insights

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Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to keep their copyright while allowing certain uses of their work — a “some rights reserved” approach to copyright…

-from CreativeCommons.org/about

Lesson 19

Topic = We Have Many Assets

Insights

In a sense, all of the other currencies — including money — are designed to create more of this one. If you have money, a great reputation and network, valuable intellectual property, and control over your own time and attention, you’re in a great position to create new opportunities.

-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 20

Topic = Know Thyself

Insights

I can say with great conviction that the more we understand what makes us tick/hum/dance, how we approach and interact with the world, and what we do best, the greater our happiness and success will be.

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Creative Pathfinder- Learnings, Weeks 13-16

I’m actually on Week 20 of the course, but catching up w/ my reviews. These four lessons are all about one of the most important aspects of your business: money – marketing, selling, negotiating, and managing. This is valuable guidance so Thank-You, as always, to Mark McGuinness for offering it.

Lesson 13
Topic = Marketing in the Web

Insights

If you don’t know why people should be paying attention to you, it’s hard to persuade them to do so.

-Mark McGuinness

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In order to get the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior online, you need to become an authority that others cite (link to) in their online content. Which means, of course, you need a content-rich website that demonstrates your authority in the first place.
-Brian Clark

Lesson 14
Topic = Selling, What and Why

Insights

…before you start worrying about products and services, benefits and features, offers and objections, stop and ask yourself: “Why am I doing this? Who am I here to help? What problem can I solve for them?”
-Mark McGuinness

What I am interested in/enjoy + What is meaningful + People/Problems needing help= My Purpose

What’s in it for them?
Why should they care?

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Ineffective/poor/unproductive/negative/lacking: communication and project management/coordination/facilitation

People not recognizing their personal power and ability to be holistically healthy and happy, not opening up and embracing their best and brightest potential.

Individuals/groups/orgs/teams/communities who will benefit from my communications/project management and personal empowerment assistance

Lesson 15
Topic = Negotiating Through Life

Insights

The key to a successful negotiation is to ferret out everyone’s interests so you can maximize the outcome for everyone. This is easier said than done, since most people hold their interests close to the vest, believing this gives them a stronger negotiating position. But oftentimes this strategy is misguided, because in actuality what you want might be right in line with what the other party wants.
-Tina Seelig

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Lesson 16
Topic = Healthy Cash Flow

Insights

Goals are the fundamental building blocks of success, not just in personal finance, but in every area of life. Without goals, you are living reactively, letting life push you around. With goals, you can live a proactive life, steering toward a destination. When you have an end in mind, it’s easier to see when you’ve made a wrong turn. You know where your path is supposed to lead.
-J.D. Roth

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Creative Pathfinder – Learnings, Weeks 9-12

Four more weeks of learning about how to be a successful entrepreneur a la The Creative Pathfinder. These lessons hone in on: creating a portfolio/online presence, networking, and knowing your business.

Lesson 9
Topic = Your Portfolio/Body of Work/Online Presence

Insights

If you want to work as a writer, start writing and publishing. If you want to be a film-maker, make films. If you want to be a musician, make music. If you want to be a designer, design something and get it built. If you want to be a marketer, sell something or spread an idea that inspires action.

-Mark McGuinness

Natalie Goldberg says the same thing, over and over, about writing. And all the wise leaders on the life path say the same thing about being enlightened: do the practice, your meditation and the application of wisdom and guidance in daily life, each day, throughout your days – that is enlightenment.

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Lesson 10
Topic = Finding Your Tribe

Insights

Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people…

Seth Godin, ‘Tribes’ (via Creative Pathfinder)

Don’t forget what you can offer the other people you meet. Whatever your level of experience, you have knowledge, skills, experiences and contacts they don’t…Notice how you feel when you help someone in your network, connect two people who can help each other, or introduce someone new to the network (see Suzanna Stinnett’s Cloud Alchemy Manifesto.)

-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 11
Topic = Growing Your Network/Tribe

Insights

…if you’re doing something meaningful, original or remarkable, it will be much easier to grow your network…

-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 12
Topic = Uniquely Me

Insights

it’s an ongoing process of development – we are always evolving!

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Creative Pathfinder – Learnings, Weeks 5 – 8

Four more weeks of The Creative Pathfinder Course full of valuable lessons on nurturing our creative talents and successfully bringing them forth into the world. See this post for context and week 1-4 lessons.

Note: As my study and practice of meditation and consciousness continues (see my last post, or previous posts on meditation), I see more and more overlap between the wisdom of those life elements and healthy, successful creative work.

Lesson 5
Topic = Information Processing

Insights

This is how I’m seeing the flow of energy:

Experience->Process->Produce->Share

The more you do this, the more you will realise how much human beings make themselves happy, sad, anxious, or plain miserable over their interpretation of events, rather than the events themselves.

-Mark McGuinness

And, as one of my favorite wisdom teachers says:

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.

-Wayne Dyer

As you draw the mind map, you will start to see relationships and patterns emerge as if by themselves, which will help you order the material later on.

-Mark McGuinness

This is how I’m seeing the Insight Flow

Learn->Practice->Pause->Insight!->Use It:

As I was writing about this lesson, this guidance (from an Insightful teacher! – see my last post on the SAND conference) synchronistically came to me:

Often our best ideas come, not when we are struggling to solve the problem, but when we are doing something completely different. When the mind is free and relaxed. So if you are struggling with something right now, take five minutes off. Give yourself a break. Do something completely different.

-Peter Russell

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Lesson 6
Topic = Free Flowing Creative Energy

Insights

Remembering why you are doing it and why it is worth the effort are great motivators as is envisioning the future we are creating.

Just as others can inspire us to good work, we can inspire ourselves.

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Lesson 7
Topic = Maximum Creativity and Productivity

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Lesson 8
Topic = Career Goals/Life Vision

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My favorite takeaway from this series:
Happiness + Contribution = Success
-Ask yourself ‘What work do I love doing the most?’ and ‘Where do I contribute the most value?’
-Focus your efforts on the overlap between the two.

Thanks again, Mark!

Creative Pathfinder – Learnings Through Week 4

I read an article by Mark McGuinness in last month’s the 99 percent newsletter. It was a call to embrace your (noble) ambitions.I enjoyed it, visited Mark’s site, learned about his Creative Pathfinder online course, and signed on right away. How could I not? For one thing, the subject is one of my three central passions (along with holistic health and happiness): creativity. Plus the syllabus was overflowing with topics that examine creativity from every angle and as it relates to all major areas of life. And the majority of those areas are not being covered by any of my other channels of personal study . And they are all very important, to my development and success as a creator, and an entrepreneur. And, Mark is generously offering the course for free. I blocked off a two hour time slot for it each week. It was an easy decision and, four weeks in, I can say with conviction that it was a very smart decision.

One thing I was quickly reminded of is how much more beneficial ideas and guidance are when we try them out for ourselves (instead of just absorbing/consuming them.) Through the worksheets that accompany each lesson I am really digging in, deeply contemplating, and analyzing my life. That then leads beyond the page – putting ideas into action.

Each week I take away fresh and helpful insights and assign myself action items to further the growth. Here is a review of what I’ve learned, and what I am working on, through week 4. (This a six month course and I plan to do a monthly review.)

Lesson 1
Topic = Life/Career Goals and Dreams

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Lesson 2
Topic = Using, and Expanding, Your Gifts

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Lesson 3
Topic = Your Creative Potential and Process

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Lesson 4
Topic = Being Inspired, Being Challenged, and Practicing

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My favorite takeaway so far, and something I wrote out and refer to regularly now:

What can you do to make the biggest difference – and reap the greatest rewards?

1. It’s something only you can do – solving an unusual problem, or doing it in an unusual style, or both.
2. Because it’s so distinctive you can charge more than the next guy for it.
3. If you do it – and sell it – well enough, you don’t necessarily need to be ‘busy’ all day every day.
4. It’s in ‘the zone’ where you find your greatest fulfilment.
5. It’s a challenge that will fascinate you for the rest of your days.

Thank-you, Mark, for so generously sharing this great course!

Mindfulness and Lovingkindness

I volunteered for a daylong at Spirit Rock this past weekend. It was my first time volunteering there, first daylong, first time doing walking meditation, and first time practicing lovingkindness. A lot of firsts in one day! I am so grateful for Spirit Rock and the opportunity to assist in exchange for participating in classes/events.

The day was led by Donald Rothberg and our morning session focused on mindfulness. There was some instruction on the basics of getting comfortable in your posture, tuning in to your breathing, and bringing your awareness back to the present, which is where mindfulness occurs. And in the second half of the day we learned about the practice of lovingkindness, phrases to personalize and silently repeat, and the different groups to direct this positivity towards. Both sessions alternated between sitting and walking meditations, and questions and guidance.

Mindfulness is not a new concept to me, in fact, cultivating it every day, every moment is my goal. I have been aware of the power of being present for quite a few years and that awareness is evolving into more and more of an active practice versus just a passive realization. In other words, I read ‘Be Here Now’ by Ram Das, and many other books of spirituality, eastern philosophy, etc, which taught mindfulness, back in my twenties, but continued to be somewhere besides here and now almost every moment. Really just within the past three to four years have these teachings started to dawn on me in a new, deeper way. I am gradually putting all of this wisdom (thousands of years worth) into practice. And that is the key to so much in life – doing the work, the practice.

I enjoyed Donald’s patient and lighthearted approach and the affirmative effect of all these people coming together to learn about slowing down, tuning in, and being present. It was nice to be a part of that and to have the time and space to dedicate to it.

Walking meditation is interesting. It’s a nice chance to stretch your legs and get outside. It requires concentration in different ways. I found, as did others in the class, that balance was trickier the more I slowed down. The positive effect was that being challenged to find balance brought my thinking and feeling back to now. And as is often the case with physical, tangible lessons, it made a lasting impression:

You need to be present in order to be balanced.

The afternoon was harder for me. I’ve found through observing my natural daily rhythms and patterns (and thank-you to Mark McGuinness’s Creative Pathfinder course for the prompting), that as the afternoon progresses, my concentration diminishes. And lovingkindess requires another level of concentration beyond mindfulness (which we still need to be practicing.) It was well worth the effort and very rewarding, though. Again, to give myself permission to sit quietly and cultivate positive, loving, patient, and kind feelings towards myself and towards the people, and creatures, of my world – if we all did this on a regular basis the world would be a nicer place. So much negativity could be dissipated by taking the time slow down and be kind and loving.

Donald provided some suggested phrases and this is how I personalized them:

May I/he/she/they be safe, secure, and comfortable.

May I/he/she/they be happy, healthy, strong, and vibrant.

May I/he/she/they live with ease and grace.

And May positive energy flow to and from me/him/her/them.

Thank-you, Donald, for your generous teachings.

What I find most interesting is that the following day was a hard one and three days later I am just starting to feel lightness and awareness return. I didn’t recognize what was happening on Sunday, just that my energy (physical/mental/emotional) was quite low. It was hot and Saturday had been a long day (and also hot) – that’s what I attributed it to. But on Monday I began to examine my thoughts and feelings and recognize that they were primarily self judgement, insecurity, doubt, and worry and in the past or future. At some point it hit me that I was being challenged in the very areas we had practiced on Saturday: being present (not caught up in analyzing the past or worrying about/imagining the future) and being loving and kind, starting with ones self. Hmmm…

The only way to really learn is by Doing and the most powerful learning, and growth, comes through the biggest challenges. So, little by little, moment by moment, I have been able to see the opportunity in this challenge of focus. And there is a gift there, too: I have the choice of what to focus my attention (thoughts/feelings/energy) on at each moment. Starting with mindfulness, the more I am fully present, in the here and now, the more I can recognize and release negative thoughts/feelings/energy and cultivate positive and productive thoughts/feelings/energy, including lovingkindness towards myself and the world around me.

I spent some time with ‘Be Here Now’ last night and like this description of mindfulness meditation:

The southern Buddhists (Theravadin) practice a form of meditation called Satipatthana Vipassana (Application of Mindfulness). It starts with the simple exercise of Bare Attention. All that you do is register thoughts, states, etc. in the present. This process slows down the transition from the receptive to the active phase of the cognitive process. You don’t think about your thoughts. You merely note them. This produces “peaceful penetration.” You transcend conceptual thought.

So I will start there (for a week is Ram Dass’s recommendation) and once I’ve gotten good at Bare Attention, I will move on to the next level of the practice.

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