TO CREATE OR TO DESTROY?…

Welcome, welcome! Phil Svitek is my name and this series is all about helping artists achieve creative endeavors by gaining the mental fortitude necessary to do so. During my 15 year history of being in the entertainment space, I have had the pleasure of learning firsthand from some of the best mentors and my own personal experiences. It is precisely these lessons which I share with you weekly in this show to help make your journey a little bit easier.

In last week’s lesson, the first of 2019, I introduced how to create a budget for yourself because it is the foundation upon which everything else is built. Today, I want to talk about the other half of that foundation – your spiritual one. Not so coincidentally, it also happens to be one of my new year’s resolutions. What is it? It’s to always act from a place of creation. See, for years I have thought that dichotomies, or rather classifications for people didn’t work. Just because I’m a male and not a female gives you no real insight into who I am. Just because I’m a millennial instead of a Gen Z-er doesn’t reveal my true nature. It’s too simplistic to lump people this way. We’re far too complex for that. But then, one day, something struck me. There is a system in which people can be classified into two distinct groups. Those who create and those who destroy.

To me, destroy means your actions come from a place of hate or fear while those who create approach life with love and happiness. Mind you that a person can fluctuate between the two throughout life. I certainly have and it is precisely why I have made it a point to now always create instead of destroying.

When you’re jealous and become spiteful, you’re destructive. When you get angry, you’re destructive. When you engage in negative thoughts, you destroy. I’m sure you can come up with other examples, ones perhaps from your own life. Scary to think about, no? Well, good, it should be. Thinking about them in this way can be exactly the catalyst for change that you need. It was for me. When you truly examine your life and quantify the overall creation vs destruction you’ve brought this world, and if you find yourself on the destructive spectrum, it’s time to change.

Like all change, this simple act of awareness is the first step. And a major step it is. No change happens without awareness. You must be willing to fully self examine.

Now, you may have done this and find yourself on the far creative side, with only a few moments where you acted from a place of destruction. That’s fantastic and I applaud you. It’s honestly a position I’d love to have been in, but hey, at least I’m working towards it now. That said, you’ll agree with me when I say there’s room for improvement.

When I say improvement, do you think that means I’m hinting at perfection? No. This isn’t about perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s about becoming better with our intent and in so doing, we can realize more of our passions. We can begin to actualize our dreams.

Here’s an example of how awareness and your own so-called imperfection can help you create. Let’s say you see someone on social media, perhaps they’re a friend. This person is doing something quite amazing and you suddenly become envious. You say to yourself, “wait a minute, I can do that. That should be me.” So far, not great, but, if you notice this behavior within yourself you can now course correct and use this to your advantage. You shouldn’t be upset with the person for doing what they’re doing and you shouldn’t be bitter against yourself. Instead, now, coming from a place of creation, channel that feeling and use it as a means to drive yourself forward and do something equally as impressive.

The key there is stopping yourself at the source, which is your thoughts. Negative energy is energy nonetheless and it’s up to you to convert that energy into something useful.

Especially when it comes to art, we default to destructive thoughts because of fear. We are so scared to share our inner voice with the world that we sabotage ourselves. Stop doing this. Some days we can overcome this demon easily, other times we can’t. But the truth is this is a daily, ongoing battle. Just because you claim victory one day, does not mean the fight is over. It begins from scratch the next day and the day after that. That’s why it’s extremely important to keep this notion at the forefront of you consciousness, lest you slip into bad habits you weren’t even aware you were doing. Always default to create, not destroy.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “well, what about the phrase ‘destruction brings creation’? How does that apply in this instance. It’s true that there are countless examples where good has come from tragedy. For example, when Edison’s factory burned down, he saw it as an opportunity because now he had both the mental and physical space to create his latest, and ultimately best work. Or even when natural disasters happen the uplifting aspect is when communities of people come together to lift each other up. These represent circumstances beyond our control and the people involved showcase a spirit of unwavering determination, passion, ambition, care, love and dare I say, mental fortitude.

What this should not encompass is you having a hissy fit and torching the painting you were working on just because it wasn’t coming out the way you wanted it. Or you deleting everything off your hard drive because it didn’t meet your expectations. Frustration in those cases is another word for destruction. And it is this type of emotion I witness most often in the artists I work with. They have such high goals but they get easily knocked down when things don’t go their way. Part of always remaining creative and approaching life from a place of love and compassion is understanding that life itself is a journey and so you’re never where you want to be. If you are it just means your goals are too small-minded. Creative people always want to be creating. They finish something and move onto a new challenge. But this frustration that kicks in is just self-doubt mixed with this new age expectation that everything should be instantaneous. Perfecting a craft, artistic or otherwise, takes years if not decades. The best artists work on their craft daily and interestingly enough, they’re not doing it for that reason but rather they’re doing it because they love the act of creation. As you may have picked up by this point, creation is synonymous with love. To love is to create and to create is to love. And furthermore, there is a vast distinction between criticism and evaluation versus being appalled by your work or the work of others. Evaluating a work demands that you try to understand the work’s perspective and seek to gain knowledge from it or help to better it by providing constructive feedback, depending on the forum. Still, it comes from a place of joy and love.

Allow me to emphasize this even more because what I’m getting at here is that words are one of the most overlooked and simplistic and yet all the while most impactful ways we can either create or destroy. That applies to when we use words to speak to others and when we use words to speak to ourselves. I am ashamed to admit I have violated this principle on both fronts. I have heavily badgered other people’s work that I didn’t think was of value and I have berated myself. Neither of which is positive in any way. In the words of Don Miguel Ruiz, “be impeccable with your word.” And I’ll encourage you to go forward with it. Be positive with your words as it will yield far greater results, which is the advice that comes from British therapist Marisa Peer who is a huge advate of affirmations. For example, rather than telling yourself “stop slacking off so much”, say “I want to work on my craft more.” Do you notice the difference? The second is positive and helps you create. That is the power of words. That is the power that comes when you act from love and creation.

That is what I want for myself and also for you. To always approach life from a place of love. Imagine how many doors can open once you do. Imagine how many projects you can complete.

I was reading up on the works of Steven Pinker, a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author, whose most recent book is called Enlightenment Now. What I found very poignant from his work is that countries across the world, for the most part, are profitable from destructive means – guns, drugs, etc. How horrific is that to think about? This is the exact reason why I’ve challenged myself, and now I challenge you, to aim for a creative and loving mindset and not a destructive, hateful, fearful one. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see.” Be a positive light and guide for the world. I believe it can be just as profitable to care as it is to sell weaponry. You might think this lesson is politically charged but I disagree because I believe you and I can have differing thoughts and still respect each other for having them. It is through this respect that we can actually appreciate each other’s viewpoints and collectively create a solution otherwise thought impossible or unimaginable. That is the power that comes when we both aim to create.

I sincerely hope you’re inspired. But let me also caution you on one thing, which is the thing that if unchecked and undiscussed leads artists to frustration. This singular truth is that creation comes from mundane. The creative act is boring to watch from the perspective of others. The showcases of people’s work we often see are exactly that, the result of hundred of hours, maybe even years, of hard labor. It is the countless keystrokes on a computer, the drafts upon drafts and revisions upon revisions and so on. As I said, it is a daily practice that you must tackle constantly in order to progress. Humble yourself and understand that what you create can be simple. Utilize your ambition so that it motivates you to chip away toward your aspiration of creating a work of art, rather than fantasizing about what the work will mean once it is finished. While I wish that your work was the next Pulitzer Prize winning piece that helped solve world hunger, it doesn’t have to be. Former president Obama has a quote that says, “Better is good.” And what that means is if your imagination creates something for the world that brings laughter to one person or if you design a tool that benefits a small faction of people, that’s okay. You’ve improved the world. You’ve bettered it and that’s a good thing.

The alternative is destruction, which often takes the form of procrastination, self-doubt, etc. Yes, you can adjust and spur yourself back to life and move forward, and in fact you should. But catch yourself during acts of destruction in their earliest forms. Don’t let yourself waste time because in the words of poet Charles Bukowski, “it often takes decades to realize this and most often when you do it’s too late and there’s nothing worse than too late.”

This all starts with the individual. It starts with me. I’ll be doing my part to create a whole slew of things in 2019. Will you?

-“Many artists and scholars have pointed out that ultimately art depends on human nature.” -Steven Pinker

-“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” -George Bernard Shaw

-“The greatest gift of all time is that you can make creation infectious because people spend less time being negative… If you log all the time with negativity in the whole world, I wonder how much better the world would be if people sat down and did something positive. It spirals.” -Skrillex

-“Creativity is how we cope with creation. While creation sometimes seems a bit ungraspable, or even pointless, creativity is always meaningful.” -Vik Muniz

-“The creative habit is like a drug. The particular obsession changes, but the excitement, the thrill of your creation lasts.” -Henry Moore

Wow, I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired to create more work in my life! Now, before you click away to another lesson from Phil, here’s a few more things. For your benefit, the transcript of this episode is on Phil’s website. A link is provided so you can always review it. Please be sure to hit that like button if you enjoyed this episode and tell your friends and family about us. Leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions and what lessons you’d like to see Phil tackle next. The more specific you are with your questions, the better we can gear these episodes towards you. Also, you can support this show on patreon.com/philsvitek if it doesn’t burden you financially in any way. Every contribution is truly appreciated and helps defray the costs of putting on this show – which as you can imagine takes a lot of effort. To be notified when future episodes release, subscribe on Apple Podcast, YouTube, Facebook, Google Podcast, Spotify or whatever other platform is most convenient to you. Specific links are provided below. To stay up to date with all the creative projects we’re doing, follow us on @PhilSvitek or @BonjourJuliet. Thanks for watching. I’m Juliet Vibert, a producer on the show and we’ll see you next week with another one of Phil’s lessons. Bye!

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