It’s trendy. It’s cool. It’s important. Doesn’t matter who you are- creative or not. Being open is what allows us to grow as human beings. This month I had the pleasure of being able to host my first ever official event under the name of “The Click” contrary to what people may think from it’s name, it’s purpose was to be inclusive of creatives, and music lovers of all kinds. Without an open mind I can confidently say this event would have not only failed, but it would not have existed.
When the idea of creating a community event for Nashville’s local creatives hit me, I thought to myself, “This is a crazy idea- and is going to be really hard to pull off”. With that being said, I had to lean into my open-mindedness and allow myself to trust that the statistically improbable was possible.
Sure enough, after many long days, hours, and months of planning- a crew of 15+ (mostly young) people pulled off an event that shouldn’t have worked. A wise person once told me that you can plan everything right and things will still go wrong- when it comes to events it’s more about how good you are at overcoming the last minute obstacles, not preventing them.
The lesson I learned from the experience is that I needed an even bigger team, that I needed to have a smaller budget, that I needed to assume larger rates for everyone, that I needed to do a better job with branding, that I needed to be better at marketing, and the list goes on. The point is- engaging with an open mind is the only way that those lessons can be learned.
On the other hand, being closed has negative connotations. It’s not trendy, sounds mean, and uninviting. What if I told you it was just as important to the execution of your ideas, and loving people well?
Having a closed mind would actually be better described as having a persistent and determined mind, but closed makes the title catchier. The reality is that not accepting defeat and stopping giving up from becoming an option is something that only a closed minded person can do.
Without the leap of faith to make the event happen. It would not have happened. There would’ve been too many variables and reasons to give up.
The True Beauty
Truth is that as human beings we often try to take a side and say, “I’m open to everything” or “I’ll never change the way I do things because tradition is king”. To each of those people I’d say open (and close) your mind to other possibilities. Understand that the most rewarding mindset to have is a beautiful paradox of both.
Being closed enough to hold on to the hard truths, dreams, and possibilities while also being open to what that journey looks like. If you want that new job… get set on the job. Refuse to give up, but at the same time maybe expand the timeline you deeply desire. Set yourself up to accomplish your goals. Write them on a whiteboard. Why? So you can erase and modify if necessary, but at least there’s a constant reminder of the goal for your life.
The Birth of a Goal
We set goals for ourselves from a young age, but not only that. Other people set them for us. When the baby will walk, when the interview will land the first job, when the fame is going to kick in. The truth is that there is nothing wrong with goals themselves or the act of setting them for yourself and the people you are responsible for. What people don’t talk about it sometimes how long those goals take to accomplish and the emotional toll it can take on a person if that goal is not kept in check.
The Emotional Goal-a-coaster
Setting a big goal with a deadline is good right? Telling yourself that thing that you so deeply want is going to happen on an exactly predictable timeline. It makes things easy. Unfortunately I think the norm of how we’ve been setting our goals wrong. Goals with deadlines and no wiggle room allow for a high risk of disappointment. That disappointment is one of the few things that can/will stop you from reaching your goal.
How Do We Fix This Problem.
I’d like to tell you a story of something that happened to me this month to help lead you to a solution. For this story to make sense we have to go back to where my creative passion for shooting music arose- at a small(ish) concert venue for a Christian rapper named Andy Mineo. I didn’t know Andy personally, yet it was quite the opposite. He was a person I had 0 connection to, but felt weirdly connected to through the beautiful thing we call music. I guess you would simply call that being a “fan”. The interesting thing about that show is that although I came for the music I left wanting the career.
I’ll never forget seeing a photographer shoot that show and thinking to myself, “If that’s a job- I want it.” So do you know what I did? I left that venue and started talking to as many people I could about how I could maybe one day have a career like that for myself. I started setting what I like to call “no end date” goals. Goals that are a priority because they stem from passion. Goals that look more like direction, than perfection.
I’m pleased to inform you that this month I was able to shoot Andy at the biggest arena in the state of Tennessee. You may be thinking to yourself- “What in the world did he do to get in there to shoot that show?”. The real answer is nothing in particular. I simply chased the one baby step at a time with a general goal to shoot bigger and better things and provide value to everyone I touch. Naturally… it ended up putting me in arena that I’ve been wanting to shoot in since day one, but never set a date to shoot in.
Deadlines Aren’t Always Your Friend.
I tell you all this not to brag. It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s to tell you that your work in the quiet, in the unseen, in the shadows… that is the driving force of what’s going to get you to your goals. Time and time again. Mixing humility with drive is a deadly combo that’ll leave you reaching every single goal you’ve ever had. The true key to getting there is also enjoying what you have. Don’t take your current season for granite. It’s beautiful in it’s own way, so don’t forget to look for it.
The Thing We Never Do Enough
Often times we as people, especially during the Christmas season get so caught up in we are doing that we forget to look around and acknowledge what the people around us are going through. We all know that the holidays are hard for some people, but do we ever consider the small steps we can take to make their holiday a little less hard?
Stress, Work, and Perfectionism
As I was preparing for a show in Midland, Michigan while on tour this last month I was stressed. Stressed about how I was going to make the band look good, while also outdoing myself in comparison to the way I performed the night before. A classic predicament of a creative hustler.
A friend of mine who was serving within the hospitality crew for the tour turned to me in my stress, and politely asked, “Hey Cole, would you mind taking these extra burgers out to the homeless men across the street?”. Without hesitation I said yes because I needed something to get my mind off perfectionism.
As I walked across the street I was thinking thoughts like, “It’s too fu*** cold out here”, “Should I jog to warm up”, and “What if they don’t like the fact that I have food and jump me.”. EVERY single one of those thoughts was so irrational and stupid considering my circumstance. Regardless I had a job to do and I was going to do it to the best of my ability.
He Was Homeless. I Was Busy.
Soon enough I ended up arriving to these men dressed in winter coats. All the men had a certain roughness to them, but it wasn’t aggressive. It more brotherly than anything. Like these guys took care of each other (Which I later came to find they did). I explained to them that the meals were for them and then got into a conversation with a man named Steve.
Steve explained to me that he used to be both a musician and a Christian, but is not longer heavily involved in either for reasons unbeknownst to me. He explained to me what hurt him, what got him excited, and what life was like. Guess how long we talked? 30 minutes. I expected to be outside for 3 minutes tops.
He Lives In my Inconvenience
The reason I share this story is to drive home the fact that we have so much to be grateful for, and have the ability to help people relive their creative dreams vicariously. We do this art so that others can dream big. Next time you’re out, ask a “Steve” you would’ve never talked to, “What’s your story?” because you may just give them a glimpse of hope… oh yeah… and they might just leave you with something you never would’ve thought about otherwise.
Love people y’all. Love Steve. Stay creative.