Unlearning Excellence: My Interview With The Mindful Creator Podcast

Photo credit: We Craft Stories / Lettering by Hey Instigator

Photo credit: We Craft Stories / Lettering by Hey Instigator

Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by my friend and fellow creative, Brett Henley, over at We Craft Stories. 

Click to listen to The Mindful Creator, Episode 10

Brett and I had the good fortune of meeting last year at Misfit Con, a bespoke conference event in Fargo, ND for people with a desire to lead lives of intention and purpose. 

Brett hosts one of my favorite podcasts, The Mindful Creator, which is all about exploring what it takes for artists & creators to cultivate meaningful work without losing ourselves along the way. (Intersection of creativity and mindfulness? It's right up the Made Vibrant alley, no?) 

When Brett invited me to be on the show, we threw around a few ideas about topics we wanted to cover, and at the time I kept coming back to this idea I've been noodling on for a while: Unlearning Excellence. 

But what does that mean? 

Well, my young adult years were largely defined by trying to excel in everything I did. I was your basic overachiever. Straight A's, president of this, an award for that. Whatever I put effort toward, I did it in pursuit of distinction and external validation. (Spoiler alert: not the best route to true happiness.)

All of that achieving led me to a career and a path that didn't feel satisfying or authentic. So I turned in my overachieving for creating instead. I chose to do what made me feel fulfilled, not what I thought other people might perceive to be impressive or distinctive.

True creating shouldn't be about external validation. It should be about genuine satisfaction.

Easier said than done, though. Which is exactly what Brett and I discuss in this episode. 

Click To Listen To The Mindful Creator, Episode 10

To give you a preview, I'm stealing Brett's episode notes below:

  • Caroline shares her journey from academic overachiever to a promising career in the agency world, and talks about the radical shifts that led her to becoming a creative entrepreneur.
  • Why our cultural definition of excellence is puritanical at best and downright soul sucking at worst (why the hell we need to unlearn this, fast).
  • The struggle to create from a truly aligned inner self (i.e. for ourselves) vs. creating for the acceptance of others.
  • Creating vs. selling – how can we rectify the troubled relationship between passion and profit?
  • Why a deeper purpose (and a commitment to that purpose) should be the foundation that you build from, remain connected to – always.
  • Why you should expect for this evolve as you grow – don’t be alarmed … put down the finger and yank the batteries from the panic button.
  • Why we push and strive to meet an arbitrary standard that is more true to a cardboard cutout of a human being, and why the power shows up when we step out of that and become authentic to our true selves.
  • Why Caroline thought happiness was the gauge to measure quality of life, and why she realized that discovering her unique values and beliefs completely shifted her perspective on the why behind her work.
  • The irony of drowning in an ocean of best practices and the difficulty of trying to differentiate as creators.
  • Creating overlap with what you do, what the world might need and what you love, and why it’s difficult trying to serve all three masters at once.
  • Why we should figure out what we love before we figure out how to serve.
  • Why not everyone is wired for the same flavor of influence, and why our resistance to accepting the uncertainty of our path to success is what brings us out of alignment.
  • Why settling into your own sense of authentic self will attract the right people for your business.
  • Why it’s important to listen when our body is telling us that we’re out of creative alignment.
  • Finding joy in your work is a process – simply being an entrepreneur doesn’t guarantee happiness.
  • The importance of asking, “What would this life really look like, and do I really want it?”
  • Why you can’t intellectualize your true core as a creator – it takes exploration and experimentation.
  • Caroline – “If you want to be a creative that’s going to be internally satisfied vs. externally validated, it has to come from a deep desire to continually question yourself and your actions and your intentions – it’s just part of the DNA.”
  • Why we need to let go of this idea that changing, revolving or reflecting is going negatively impact our business.
  • Brett asks – “Why would you go through the struggles of being on your own to build something that you don’t love?”
  • While endurance is a key to success as a creative entrepreneur, not giving up doesn’t mean that you endure suffering instead of letting go of things that don’t serve your why.

Hope you enjoy the episode and that it gives you some great thoughts to toss around for your own creative pursuits. If you give it a listen, be sure to let me know on Twitter!