“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.

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.

The 11 Months I Was Unemployed (Part 2 of 3)

(This is the second part of a story that tells the story of how I made a poor decision that left me unemployed for 11 months. For the first part read here)

After I had left my regular work at Disney in the fall of 2005, I thought things were going to go my way. We had some money saved up. I was sure that television commercial work would start pouring in.

I was so confident that I even turned down a seasonal opportunity from another theme park because I was going to leave that behind me.

My problem… I didn’t have a plan in place. I wasn’t in a regular acting class at the time or a regular group where I could exchange ideas about how to get consistent work.

I was just winging it.

Not having a plan in place was very detrimental. I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. Without a clear direction, I became easily distracted or overwhelmed by what needed to happen in order to book work.

Kevin Gregg doing extra work on the set of "24" (FOX) circa 2006

Kevin Gregg doing extra work on the set of “24” (FOX) circa 2006

I wasn’t handling it very well.

I felt guilty that I couldn’t seem to get things done so I started filling my days with anything and everything.  I started volunteering at the kids’ school, volunteering at church and just being involved in a myriad of different non-paying activities.

Volunteering is a good thing, but when you are not taking care of  basic income for the home it can cause its own problems. And it did. Before I knew it I found myself emotionally committed to things that had nothing to do with forward motion for my career. I was stretching myself too thin and getting exhausted. But at least I could claim that I was “busy.”

I also started numbing myself with food and booze. Not helpful. When you go to an audition for a television commercial, you don’t look too attractive when you’ve got a puffy face from booze and a poor diet.
I was fortunate enough to book odd jobs here and there. I did extra work for a few television shows but found the experience depressing and not very lucrative for a man trying to support a family of five.

(more…)

Is Netflix trying to hook you?

A vision of a "media pill" is not a good future

At a recent conference, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that entertainment is changing into something else. According to Hastings, movies and television are the changed versions of opera and literature. He envisions a future where media changes into a product that could be consumed, literally, as a pharmaceutical.

netflixpillA pill that someone would take in order to experience entertainment.

Yep, it’s true. You can see some of his comments here.

I say no.

When I hear a suggestion like that, I have a vision of people not engaging with one another, but instead isolating in a media hallucinogenic trip.

That is not the future. I believe that one of the purposes of art is to reflect the human experience and allow the opportunity for the Divine to speak to us. Art should point us towards working and growing together.

Even media that we might experience on our own (books, music, etc.) gives us the opportunity to talk to other people about our experiences.

Having a chemically altered experience that would manipulate our feelings and possibly drive us away from communicating with each other (“I can’t explain it, just take this and you’ll know what I mean”) is not an end we should be driving towards.

It doesn’t surprise me that this idea comes from the man who’s company gave birth to the concept of “binge watching”.

Be careful. Talk, engage, learn.

 

A Word of Encouragement

It starts in our homes. It starts in our churches. It starts in our communities.

It starts with talking with one another.

It starts with loving one another.

52647725 - religious christian woman looking trough the stained glass church window light.woman praying to god at st. alexander nevsky cathedral.finding serenity in religion,faith and hope concept.enlightenment

It starts with listening and discussing with one another.

It starts with action.

It starts with serving one another.

There is hope. There is a loving Creator who is calling you to His Purpose.

Heed His Voice. Help one another. That’s what He wants you to do.

You’ll get through this.

Pain is a part of the breaking down of those old parts of us, so we can make room for growth.

May God bless all of you today.

 

Inspiration to Get Through The Holiday Blues

The Breaking Out of Orbit Webinar returns to help move you forward

January used to be a very difficult time for me.

For years I would go through the holiday season starting with Halloween through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. It’s always a very busy time of the year in my industry.

It is a time that can be filled with joy, gratefulness and reflection. But for several years I would get through the season and be very depressed.

Part of it was realizing that I hadn’t accomplished the things that I wanted to do in the previous year. Part of it was feeling overwhelmed and being in the middle of winter and not having the inspiration to move forward. It was quite daunting. (more…)