“Essentialism”: Are You Making “D” Life Decisions?

Greg McKewon's book challenges you to use your time and energy wisely

Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” should be mandatory reading for creative workers. 

It’s a book that challenges you to say “no” to those things in your life that do not utilize your best skills and talents.

I’ve written before about the power of saying “no.”  “Essentialism”, which I first heard about from Michael Hyatt’s blog, truly goes deeper into the idea of say “yes” to the right things in life.

Here are three major concepts from the book I’d like to share…

Make sure that you commit your time to something that is worth it.

What are you investing your time in? 

McKewon shares a personal story that changed his way of thinking. He and his wife were expecting the birth of his son. They knew the child would be born through the Cesarian procedure, so a date for the delivery had been set.   (more…)

Just Keep Dancing, Just Keep Dancing

How I kept my head down and learned some moves

“We would like you to be a part of Fantasy Fair.”

These were words I was not expecting to hear. I had been hired to go into a new musical comedy show that was starting at Disneyland.

I had gone through the audition process and had done all right, but there was a concern.

I can sing, but dancing is not in my wheelhouse.

The director took a chance and offered me the job.

I accepted and I was scared.  Sure I could perform comedy with some ease, I’d been doing that for nearly two decades.

But dancing? Oh boy…

dancing

Kevin as Mr. Jones (picture credit: Jerry Buteyn)

It took a lot of work.

Here’s what helped me get through the process:

  • Persistence and perseverance

I’d record the choreographers dancing on my phone. Then I’d transfer the video to my laptop and watch the video playback in slow motion.

I would literally force my body to imitate the moves I saw the choreographers and other performers do.

My family would catch me rehearsing the steps in the middle of our living room on my days off from work.

I would show up each morning 45 minutes early for rehearsal and practice the dance steps in the parking lot.

Even during our breaks I would slowly review and go over the steps again and again and again.

  • Partnering

My friend, Mark McConville was my partner in arms during the process.  It was a challenge for him too but we bonded during rehearsal as we tried to master the steps.  (more…)

There Are No Shortcuts

The power of consistency

I’ve been here time and time again.

Like, the time that well over half of my headshot submissions to agents got sent back to me because they wouldn’t accept them through the mail.

Like the time I had a lemonade stand as a kid and only one neighbor showed up because we didn’t get foot traffic on our street.

Like the time I bought $10 worth of magical raffle tickets at our church fair absolutely convinced that I was going to win the much coveted Atari game system… I didn’t.

And just about every time I didn’t get instant results for my semi-efforts, I’d get huffy. I’d want to throw in the towel.

 

There are no shortcuts.

I know this with eating and exercise. I know this with my spiritual and mental health.

I have to show up every day.

When it comes to life’s calling, life’s purpose, and career I have a tendency to sabotage myself.

I do know what it is. Steven Pressfield calls it The Resistance. I call him by another name.

This force wants me to fall off the horse and never get back up. Because to get back up means that I am serving the Higher Purpose. I am serving the purpose that He gave me.

So… I’ll go back to the basics. I’ll review what it takes so that I show up every day to work on this. I’ll read and learn and follow the guidance of those who have come before me and who are trying to point me on the path.

I know that if I log the time, do the work, I’ll find myself on the path He has laid before me so that I’m not just doing my work. I’ll do the work He means for me to do.

 

Breaking Through The Dark Times: The Creative Breakthrough Workshop

How a medical crisis helped me move forward

In the late 1998 I got blindsided by a medical issue which was potentially life threatening.

My son Matty was just a year old, our family was trying to juggle finances and try to just get our footing. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out.

I won’t keep you in suspense… I survived the medical crisis.

However I also went to a dark place. I was 25 years old when it hit and it brought up some very challenging questions for myself.
One of those questions was what was I doing with my life.

I was trying to make a living as an actor, but I couldn’t seem to make progress. I kept getting overwhelmed, and the medical crisis scared and depressed me. If it wasn’t this medical issue that would kill me, was something else just around the corner.

Turning back to my faith got me back on track, but it definitely wasn’t easy.

In the midst of this journey, I came to a realization.

Life is a very precious gift and that I have been given certain skills and abilities that I have to develop and grow. No tomorrow’s are promised. I needed to do all that I could with my given circumstances in a day and try to make the best of it.

At the end of the night, if I could put my head on the pillow and say that I had done the most with my given circumstances that day…. I had done all right.

Not every night was like that, but slowly I learned to stop squandering my days. It was about taking action and doing forward motion. Thinking big, praying big and also making sure that I was on track with what God wanted me to do.

This medical crisis was one of four difficult periods I had in my life as a working creative.

I tell the rest of that story in my inspiring online class: The Creative Breakthrough Workshop.

In this FREE TRAINING I teach the 4 Steps that can change your creative output in the next 30 days.

You will learn…

How to put a support system in place that will move you forward

Habits that you can create that will increase your creative productivity (using a technique as simple as 12 minutes a day)

How one week can completely change your outlook on what you can accomplish with your creative goal

and so much more!

Spaces are limited so reserve your seat ASAP. Go to https://kevingregg.lpages.co/creative-breakthrough-workshop/

breakthrough

You must register for a class in order access live/replay. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn how to breakthrough your low moments and get back to doing creative purpose-filled work.

I hope to see you there…

Ways To Free Up Your Creativity

Three tools that I use to get creatively moving

Sometimes I get stuck. I might be in a bad mood or can’t seem to get a break. Anything that can get in my way of my schedule, does.

creativity

Graphic Artist image courtesy of rawpixel.com

The last thing I feel like being is creative.

 

Creativity, however, can’t be left alone. It has to be worked at and nurtured.

How do you do that when you just feel…. blah?

I want to share a couple of techniques that have helped me when I need a creative boost.

  1. Sit down and do small little chunks of work.

    Small little bites at a time. I found tremendous help in using a 6-minute timer to get things done. It’s such a useful tool for me to sit down focus and make headway on creative projects. Before I know it, I can look back and see that I’m making progress. Then I start to feel hopeful.

  2. Do something creative that uses a different skillset

    If you are stuck on a project and can’t seem to get inspiration, walk away for a little bit and pick up another creative tool. This could mean you pick up a musical instrument or a paintbrush. We can use the creative part of our brain sometimes by giving it a break with other fun, creative things to do. I do this with drawing or playing music.  A friend of ours gave us a piano and I’ve been filling some of my spare time plunking out tunes and rediscovering my love of music. It’s a breath of fresh air for the spirit.

  3. Change your view, get out of the house (or even travel!)

    Being in the same space day after day can sometimes wear you down. We all need a little reset. Sometimes it’s as simple as climbing in the car driving to the other side of town and hanging out in a park. It could involve traveling.  In her article “8 Reasons Why Traveling is Good for Your Health”, Karen Reed observes that creative people will travel to a new place so they can be exposed to new ideas or cultures. It can serve as a trigger for creativity. My trip to Joshua Tree triggered the idea for an article. My recent family trip to Ireland and Scotland inspired me for several future goals.

There are immediate things you can do to get unstuck if you’re in a creative dry spell. The most important thing you can do is take action.

You’ll get there…

If you want more inspiration about how travel can not only benefit your creativity but your health as well, read Karen Reed’s full article here…

8 Reasons Why Traveling Is Good for Your Health

And if you like to read what I learned from my recent trip to Ireland and Scotland, click here.

“Someday” Never Happens: Taking The Scary Step NOW

What I learned from my trip to Ireland and Scotland

I told my wife, Kate, “Someday, it will happen. Someday…”

For 20 years.

It had been a dream to travel as a family to Ireland.

Understandably, we had many challenges along the way. Medical and financial challenges, family obligations. We couldn’t seem to get a break to make it happen. But my answer would always be the same…”Someday.”

Then last year I traveled to Slovenia to help a church organization with a performance arts camp for young people. It really effected me, and I wanted to share this experience with Kate.

But I didn’t want to hijack this dream we’d had for over 20 years.

So when I returned from Slovenia, we sat down, pulled the trigger, and purchased the tickets to go to Ireland and Scotland.

With my sons Matty and Duncan at the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

With my sons Matty and Duncan at the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

It was scary. It was a leap of faith financially and I wasn’t sure how things would work out with all of our other obligations.

I am so grateful that we did it.

I got to reunite with family that I had not seen in over 24 years. The kids got to meet family they had never met before. We were able to experience beautiful sights and rich history in both Ireland and Scotland.

It’s opened up the possibility of doing more travel and learning how to successfully navigate that with my son’s autism.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that “someday” never happens.

The word “someday” can be used as an excuse to put something off, or it can be used to comfort ourselves.

Ultimately, however, it doesn’t deliver the real goods. It only gives us whisps and longing for the unfulfilled.

The great stuff comes when we act in the now and take the scary step.

Just a warning: when you get ready to take the scary step, you’ll be met with a lot of resistance and a lot of naysayers. There will be people that say “I could never do that.” Or people that will question “How are you able to do that?” Or even the voice within your head that will say “What are you doing?”

Push through. You know that deep down inside, that true voice is saying “Do it” because there is greatness on the other side.

I’m so grateful I took the scary step and did something I had been holding back on for a long time. The rewards were worth it.

What are you holding back from doing? Talk about it on my Facebook page and join the conversation…

Crossroads-Making the Difficult Decision

I had to make a major choice and I wasn't able to do it on my own...

I remember back in the late 90’s I was at a crossroads…

I wasn’t making enough money with part time entertainment work while raising a family.

I needed to figure out what to do.

My parents and in-laws had helped us through some rough patches financially, but it couldn’t last forever.
Right around this time, I was also blindsided by a medical issue that required surgery and treatment.
Scary times.
I went through a dark period of depression, not sure what to do.
photo courtesy of Carsten Toolkit https://goo.gl/lTyA3x

photo courtesy of Carsten Toolkit https://goo.gl/lTyA3x

I rediscovered my faith during this period which was incredibly helpful, because I had a hard decision to make.

Was I going to continue on in the path of creative work, or was I going to settle for “regular” work?

(more…)

Dealing With Disappointment

God, family and friends helped through some a recent career speed bump

Got some disappointing news about something I had focused my time and energy on recently.
It stung.

Image courtesy of StockSnap.io

Image courtesy of StockSnap.io

There were a few moments where I felt really down.

But, I’m in a better place than I was a few years ago.
A few years ago, this news could have kept me in a cycle of depression for weeks, if not months.
Now, I was able to pull out of it quicker. There is a Bigger Plan at work here.
I know that God has given me abilities, skills and talents that are to be used for His Glory,  not my own.
When I learn to keep Him as the center of all of it, my successes and my failures, it helps.
Believe me, I still feel pain.
But I also have hope that helps me get up and keep going.
Here are a few things that helped me during the recent rejection:
  • I shared with my wife and my friends. In the past, I used to keep all of it bottled up an would isolate. It didn’t help and people didn’t want to hang around that.
  • I read scripture that would lift me up. It’s surprising how much there is in the Bible about dealing with disappointment. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
  • I reviewed what I have accomplished in the past, and reassessed what that means for the future. Perhaps this recent rejection means that I’m supposed to be using my abilities in a different way. A way in which I would thrive and would be more in line with my talents.
Whatever the near future holds, I’m grateful for the love and support that I have along the way, from God, from my wife, my family and my friends. All of this is about serving others.
I hope today if you are feeling the sting of disappointment that you can find some peace and insight to see the Bigger Plan.

Doing What You Don’t Want To Do

Why we get back up and do it again

Yeah there are a lot of times we’ve got to do things we just don’t want to do.

I don’t like doing dishes, I don’t like doing laundry, I don’t like going over finances and doing taxes.

Yet, they have to be done.

I know the ideal is to only do things that we want to do. But life is also not a happiness cloud made of cotton candy.

I’m not sure where the idea of living a life devoid of pain came from.

I know for myself, pursuing happiness in my work came from being exposed to people who absolutely hated their work, but they continued to show up and do it for a paycheck.
That idea of showing up day in and day out in an environment that I loathed, spending a majority of my time and life in those circumstances was not attractive to me at all.
But that doesn’t mean that we get to avoid things that we don’t want to do.
Sometimes we’ve got to put our nose to the grindstone and get the work done.
I can think of two times in particular where I had to grow and make the right choice.
The first was in high school at the age of 14.
I grew up in the 1980’s and saw the birth of Must Watch TV on Thursday nights on NBC. It was one of television’s highest ratest nights with the line up of: “The Cosby Show”, “Family Ties”,”Cheers” and “Night Court”.
For me it was a staple of my week, something I really looked forward to.
By the time I hit freshman year at Loyola High School, I realized I was neck deep in some serious school work along with sports and activities. My schedule was getting crammed and I was coming to a crossroads in my life.

(more…)

Burnout: You Can’t Do it All

You have to set the boundaries that will keep you mentally, physically and spiritually healthy

“You can do it all!” “Multi-task!” “Push yourself to the limit!” “You can sleep when you’re dead!”

A lot of phrases that we hear in the 21st century.  These ideas of always being on the go, go, go. Push yourself to the extreme at all costs: sleep, friends, family, health. It will all be worth it.

The truth is, though there may be good intentions behind these phrases, they are not healthy and they are not right.

The result of continual pushing and driving our engines in the red is burnout. And when we hit burnout, there’s a lot to clean up afterwards.

Burnout

Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

It’s hard to resist, we have major figures in the world that seem to be able to do it all. J.J. Abrams and James Franco are two people in the entertainment industry that come to mind. They seem to be able to do it all: directing, writing, producing, acting.

But I also know that I can’t compare the messy back stage of my life to someone else’s front stage. I have no idea what their personal lives are like. I have no idea what people or teams they have in place that handle all of their work or issues so they can be involved in so many different projects. And I certainly don’t have personal insight into the struggles that they have to endure on a daily basis. (more…)