At the beginning of 2018 I went to every creative group online that I’m a member of and asked the same question:
The comments started trickling in throughout the day.
“Not enough time.”
“Lack of focus.”
“Consistency in uploading new content for my channel.”
“No direction, don’t know where to start.”
“I don’t have the tools.”
“My creative partner…”
“Lack of funding.”
Most comments had two things in common: an over-reliance on other people, and not controlling the things that are entirely within their control.
And then there was this one, which popped up over and over again in different variations:
On paper it seems like a solid S.M.A.R.T. goal – it’s Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related.
But it represents a deeper belief that speaks to the problem that all of these different creators are actually struggling with.
The Film Student
Years ago I was running a film production company and got an email from a soon-to-be film school graduate, “looking” for job openings in the industry here in Utah.
I promise you, this is 100% real.
I am genuinely curious if he ever got a job working in film…
Now, we can’t just move on from THAT level of entitlement.
While this is an extreme example, it perfectly captures some of the thoughts that cross all of our minds now and then, and gets us closer to the deeper issue, one of how we see the world.
We all feel, or have felt, qualified for jobs that we didn’t get.
Or that we deserve to earn something from all of the hard work we did to get to a certain point or level of experience.
Despite how egregious this email is, the scary thing is that we can relate.
The Hustler And The Craftsman
The email above, and the previous “1,000 subscribers in 30 days!” comment, reveal a mindset or perspective that limits everything from action, to results, to our interactions with others and our work ethic.
Peruse the internet for just a few minutes and you’ll find plenty of Medium posts, Instagram stories, and YouTube videos about how to hustle your way to success, hack your creativity, and shortcut your way to fame, fortune, and infinite influence.
It’s gross just writing some of that stuff.
I’m going to make some strong statements now, so it’s a good time to bail on this whole thing if you value likes, followers, and “virality” more than hard work, focus, and humility.
Despite the outward appearance of success, many of the people you see online are just really good at making it look like they’re successful. Most “success” bloggers don’t actually get up at 5am every day, do intermittent fasting, or write 1,000 words before breakfast.
Rather, many of them research keywords and hashtags, run lead-gen ads on FB, optimize their YouTube channel cards, and try to inflate their numbers so they can get better visibility from advertisers.
The focus is in the wrong place.
Where are you, the “fan”, in that scenario?
You’re a number. A statistic. You represent revenue, or views, or likes. You’re not an individual, you’re part of an audience.
I’m going to call this mindset that of The Hustler, someone who values “what’s in it for them” above all else.
Their actions reveal their values.
Their time is spent building up themselves, their brand, their social media following, their reach.
It’s a shallow pursuit, spread far and wide but only a few inches deep.
They jump from one idea to the next, one network to the next, one person to the next, in search for whatever it is they want.
Yet, they have no idea what they actually want.
Why do they want more followers?
Why do they want more views?
What purpose does it serve than to get more money and more celebrity?
A creator or artist with this hustler mindset will do anything to reach these “goals” (“1,000 subscribers in the next 30 days!”)
They feel that by hitting some arbitrary number by some arbitrary date that it will magically give them what they are after.
Again, there’s a deeper problem: they have no idea what they want.
When you don’t know what you want, it’s impossible to focus, because you have no target, no path, no process. You have to try everything because you don’t know what will give you the thing that will satisfy that need, that deep desire that resides in every artist and creator.
Just a few months ago I stumbled across this incredible video of a man, by himself, out in the woods, building a log cabin by hand.
What in the world does a log cabin have to do with being a creator?
The mindset of a craftsman is completely opposite from that of a hustler. Nowhere in this video do you see shortcuts, or lack of focus, or being driven by external motivations like followers, views, or ad dollars.
The man had a single goal (build a cabin for him and his dog.)
He had a method (hand tools only.)
He had focus and discipline.
He just happened to have the foresight to film a time lapse of the process because he knew there would be people like me that would value watching the process and get inspired by it.
On the next page, I’m going to go deeper into the craftsman mindset for those who want to see how it applies to our desires to become full-time creators.