The Secret to Rapid Improvement

How would you like to accelerate your progress in an area of weakness? My 23-year-old son, Chris and I discussed this a few days ago. He reminded me of how he stretched himself by being in several lead roles in musicals. “I hated that but it was good for me,” he told me. He is a naturally shy creative who can draw, paint, write articles, write and arrange music, write lyrics and produce music. He rapidly advanced as an actor because he did what he didn’t want to do.

Chris confirms what I just listened to on this podcast hosted by Ray Edwards. He interviewed bestselling author and creativity expert Jeff Goins who is releasing a new book about creativity. Jeff researched leading successful artists such as Michaelangelo who was one of the wealthiest artists of his time during a period when artists were considered paid laborers. Goins revealed a key to rapidly growing in your craft – going public with your process, especially when you’re uncomfortable with this.

Goins discovered that Chris Rock, one of my favorite comedians, would test his jokes on audiences before adding the jokes to his show. Chris would show up at a club with a pad of paper and just start telling jokes to see which ones worked. The jokes that didn’t get any laughs didn’t make the cut. By going public with his creative process, Chris was building his fan base and testing his ideas.

Goins shared his own story of playing in a band and how he rapidly improved as a musician by doing several shows a week. My other son, Alex, has been literally leading worship for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week while he has been in India. I’ve been watching him via Facebook live broadcasts. I asked him why is he always on the keyboard. He responded, “Because I’m the band leader.” That’s 15 to 20 hours of leading and working with other singers and musicians.

These worship sessions have been broadcast live over a Facebook page with opportunities for people to instantly comment. This means that every song that’s off key or pitchy can’t be edited. Awkward transitions are live for everyone around the world to see but the heart and spontaneous singing have been amazingly fresh.

Alex told me that he has noticed an amazing improvement in his singing and playing piano because he has been doing this for many hours. If you want to rapidly advance in an area, then do it for hours at a time and go public with your process. I’m trying to do this right now as I go public with my attempt to do more writing.

I spend hours writing headlines, teasers, and curating hundreds of articles a week. Now I need to carve time out to do my own original writing. Look for more writing in days to come as I go public with my own creative process.

What would you like to improve in?

Breaking Barriers

When 2010 started, I didn’t plan to lose a major contract and bump up my side business to become my full-time gig. I didn’t foresee my 16-year-old son, Chris, driving or my 8-year-old daughter, D’Andra, forgetting that she has special needs or a disability, grabbing a sled, jumping on it and sliding down a steep hill. I didn’t foresee my 12-year-old son, Alex, getting a text through Chris from a group of girls wanting to know which one did he like. I also didn’t foresee my 16-year-old niece, Erin, who lives with us, getting her first job.

People change, contracts end, and stuff comes at you that you didn’t expect. My business has created friendships with incredible, smart entrepreneurs that I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t step out. I started doing presentations regularly in 2010 and realized how much I enjoy public speaking. I broke my own barriers to my fear of starting a business and selling – which has cost me – and public speaking.

For 2011, I look forward to making more friends, writing and presenting more and seeing amazing changes in my kids. This time next year, Chris and Erin will probably have their driver’s license. Alex will tower over me and will have a couple performance gigs under his belt. He’s already 5″7! D’Andra, I’m sure, will surprise me most of all as she continues to break barriers and expectations put on kids with special needs.

What barriers and expectations will you break? What are you looking forward to?