I am writing this letter to:
- Share how much your art, writing, books, and vision inspire me daily to pick myself and create emotional labor-filled art
- Apologize for writing a harsh and negative Amazon review about Tribes roughly four years ago (more on this coming, so please stay)
- Thank you for generously sharing your art and patiently coaching people like myself to "dance with confronting fear and the pain of vulnerability"
- Ask you to re-read Reason #1 because your passion, leadership, and teaching will continue to make a lasting impact on my life
When I wrote that Tribes* review, I was going through a challenging professional period. Four years ago, I was looking for the "usual 10 steps to get yourself out of a tough work situation quickly in a crappy economy." When I read Tribes, I kept searching for "that map" (which of course, wasn't there).
So, I took out my frustrations on you. And, I'm genuinely sorry I wrote that review.
After re-reading Tribes at least three or four more times (along with your other important works multiple times), I finally understood that the beauty and wisdom driving Tribes (and all of your important art) is making sure someone like me finally wakes up to the all-important realization that those maps don't exist in a book ...
... because I'm the one who has to write the map.
"Those maps" reside within us. We are develop / sketch them out each time we create and ship our art. How we choose to reach our individual destinations / write out those maps is our own business. That's what makes my map special (along with anyone else's when she/he raises their hand to become their own mapmaker). Producing "those maps" requires our emotional labor (e.g., the daily joy and pain linked to creating and shipping our individual art).
And, if you've said it once, you've said at least 67 different times: "High-speed Internet access hooked up to our laptops, tablets, or smartphones gives us all an equal shot at 'changing the world' in our own unique, and meaningful way.
If we have the heart and guts to continue thrashing, failing, "poking the box*" and winking at the resistance (even when it's mocking us, breathing down our necks and staring us square in the face), then we ALL have a puncher's chance (regardless of the current economy).
I amended that Tribes review in September 2013, but left the original review intact. Why? I want to remind myself of what a publicly-displayed version of petty, lame-ass, "easy out" excuses looks like. I hope others will see it too so they can learn from my mistakes.
For 47 years, I would beat myself up when I'd try something different or try to learn something new. So, I'd thrash around for what seemed forever (especially in the beginning). I'd keep screwing up and it seemed like I couldn't get anywhere. The resistance convinced me I was wasting precious time.
But, I wasn't wasting time --- I was learning.
Yet, somewhere along the way, I heard the resistance laughing (and relishing in my struggles). I could hear it f**king taunting me.
That's what stopped me from following-through and shipping. That's why I stopped trusting my instincts.
But, you, woke me up. It took me 47 years to conclude that the journey to creating genuinely, memorable, remarkable art isn't supposed to be easy. I've finally learned after 47 years of beating myself up (and subsequently complying) that my instincts were trying to inform me to take calculated, intelligent risks at various stages of my life.
And, this time, I'm actively listening to those instincts ...
Picking oneself to create really inspiring, emotional labor-driven, memorable and remarkable art*, means taking risks and accepting and dealing with pain, humiliation, embarrassment, and failure.
Most importantly, you've made me realize that the pain, humiliation, embarrassment aren't bad things. Yes, these things hurt and wound our pride (at times very deeply) but that's part of the contract if I want to live the life of an artist. Yes, I will take these failures and embarassments personally. Yes, it's going to hurt (but it's not as painful and life-threatening as the resistance wants me to believe).
The beating myself up ends now. The obsession for perfection ends now. How the hell am I supposed to create remarkable art if the only thing remarkable about me is a unique ability be my own, worst enemy.
I aspire to be a remarkable artist like you. I aspire to make art like a Godin, a Joel, a Meerman Scott, and a Handley. Time to cowboy up, expect and demand more (versus complying and playing it safe), and "fly as close to the friggin' sun as possible*." If mistakes and failures during my journey make me look like a total jackass, at least I've learned firsthand what doesn't work so I can prioritize and invest my talent, time, and other unique resources into something else (versus blindly staying the course).
Thank you Seth.
Thank you for waking me up to realize that the dirty work / crap work / stuff that gets zero glory / the shit I resented doing is a true linchpin's bread and butter. Because, I see now how that shit holds a team together, and it enables me to move the team towards the goal line and score in difficult situations (where others can't).
Thank you for teaching and constantly reminding me "that risky is safe and safe is risky."
Thank you for giving me the courage and commitment to do this:
One day, I hope to have the privilege of meeting you face-to-face and shaking your hand.
Until that day, please travel safely Seth (wherever you may be),
Tony Faustino is a marketing and corporate strategist. He writes about how The Internet reinvents marketing strategy for organizations and individuals in his marketing strategy blog, Social Media ReInvention. Follow his tweets @tonyfaustino or circle him on Google+.
* I am not a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program. I provided hyperlinks to the Amazon landing pages of Seth's books because I want others to be inspired by his important art.
Note: Austin Kleon's book, Steal Like an Artist and Mitch Joel's public fan letters inspired this post. Pages 108 to 109, "Write Fan Letters," and Chapter 2: "Don't Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started" from Austin's book are amazing. After reading Austin's book and Mitch's public fan letters, I made a list of my heroes.
Please indulge me as I periodically publish these fan letters on this blog.
From page 109 of Steal Like an Artist: "Maybe your hero will see your work, maybe he or she won't. Maybe they'll respond to you, maybe not. The important thing is that you show your appreciation without expecting anything in return."