Talk Less, Do More

Talk is cheap and these days you can buy a lot of it for a dollar and still have change left over for a soda. Every time I log into Facebook, my feed is inundated with meme’s and comments from people posting about how much they could change the world. However, beyond talking about it, so few of them actually do anything about it.   They just spend their time posting about what they could do instead of simply just doing it.

The internet and social media especially, has become a soapbox for people to highlight grand problems, but at the same time, offering few solutions if any.  Maybe the call to arms is for other people to step up.  Who knows?  What is clear to me, however, is the world is firmly divided by the do’s and the do not’s. There is also a correlation between talk and action. I’ve noticed that those who talk less generally tend to do more and when they do talk there’s a reason and it’s not just to hear their own voice.

This divide is not just limited to political and social ideals.  Creativity is burdened by the same grandstanders.  How many great projects have fallen by the wayside because the creator just talked about doing it and never actually did it? Imagine if Charles Dickens’ motto had been “what if” or “I could”. How about Shakespeare?  Where would the literary world be if they had just sat around talking about what they could achieve instead of sitting down and doing it?  How about George Lucas and Steven Spielberg? Would movies be where they are today if they had just chatted about the ideas they had instead of grabbing a camera and showing the world what they were capable of? 

“I could” is the arch enemy of creativity. “I could” is the punch to the stomach that will stop any project or idea dead in its tracks or kill it before it can even get off the ground.   The only way to create and change the world is to turn an “I could” into an “I am”.  An “I am” is someone who is taking the next step to bring their visions to life. An “I am” is writing or painting.  They are making movies and performing on Broadway. Everyone you see on television or reading poetry at a coffee shop is an “I am”. Everyone you see at a polling station voting is an “I am”. They are the people who left “I could” in the dust and took strides to show the world they are not happy to sit back and watch it pass by. 

Everyone has the power to create and be an “I am”.  People from all walks of life have released books, made movies or written poetry.  However, there is a very clear line drawn between those who create and those who sit around talking about how much they could create. They are nothing more than dreamers and dreamers alone are not able to change the world.  While the romance of dreamers is a bright and colorful world where everyone holds hands and sings as one, the reality is dreaming alone achieves nothing.  It is actions that make a change.  

Being called a creator is something you earn and as creators, we can only live up to that title if we get up out of our seats and take action.  It is too easy to take the passive route and talk about what we can do. 

Don’t just be a dreamer. Be a creator.  If you want to change the world through a political movement or write a book or make a movie, stop talking about it and do it.  Don’t fill the world with more hot air.  Global warming is bad enough as it is.



Energy Leeches

There are 3,700 hours in five months.  What would you do with five whole months?  What would you do that could change the world?  Would you write a book or make a movie?  Would you paint a picture or work for a charity or travel the world and learn about other cultures?  How about spending it doing things you don’t enjoy and spending the time complaining about it? No?  That doesn’t sound appealing does it?  Then why do so many people do it?

There is a cartoon currently doing the rounds on the internet.  It is of a man in the 1930’s and a caption saying “In eighty years you will have a device that will fit in the palm of your hand and it will contain every piece of knowledge known to man”.  Beneath it adds “And you will use it to look at pictures of kittens and argue with strangers”.   Truer words have never been spoken.  There is a plague spreading across the internet and it’s getting worse.  It is stifling creativity and generating a huge cloud of negativity.  I am talking about forums and comments.  

The internet has opened a whole world of information and any interest we have, there is a community for us to interact with.  We should be networking with like-minded people and expanding our interests. We should be growing and learning. We should be teaching and collaborating.  But many of us are not.  In fact, quite the opposite is happening. 

I consider myself well-read and with very diverse interests.  To expand my interests and knowledge, I am online a lot.  I read websites, I’m a member of countless forums and chat rooms and everywhere I go, I have noticed the same thing.  People reading stories they know they won’t like and spending five, ten, fifteen minutes or more writing about how much they hated the article and arguing with anyone who disagrees.  These people are typically called trolls, but I don’t think it’s a fitting description.  I have a new word for this craze.  I call it leeching.  These people suck the joy, energy and creativity out of a room. A conversation can be civil and productive and as soon as a leech enters the room, they suck the energy out.  People are at each other’s throats and the direction of the conversation gets derailed.

My favorite is the comment that starts “who cares?”  Well, obviously you cared enough to read the article and then take the time to post about much you don’t care.  The author then launches into a tirade against anyone who disagrees.  Cheap shots are taken, people’s feelings are hurt and the negativity leaves the room into the non-cyber world. How many times have you logged off from a website irritated about something that happened online? How many angry drivers have just had an angry online encounter?  The repercussion of these actions don’t end with the close of a window, they can have serious real world implications.  I mention my numerous interests because I see this issue across the board. It isn’t located to a specific genre or topic.  The spread of negative energy has reached epic proportions.

So why did I start this article with 3,700 hours?  If you spend thirty minutes a day online complaining and reading things you don’t enjoy, that’s 185 hours a year.  Residential internet is about to turn twenty years old. Over twenty years that’s five months spent under a negative cloud.  It adds up quickly doesn’t it?   We are all gifted with a finite number of minutes in life.  We should spend them with our friends, our families and our loved ones.  We should make snow angels and watch the sun set.   I don’t understand spending time doing something you know you won’t enjoy. 

So what can you do to stop leeching?  If you find yourself online, gravitate towards articles and sites you know will interest you.  You will have a very different online experience if you seek out articles that put you in a good mood.  If you find yourself wanting to write something negative or critical, wait for an hour to see if you still feel the same way.  Most online rants and complaints are purely reactionary to the emotions felt at the time.   Take a deep breath and step away. Chances are, in an hour you won’t feel the same way and the need to post will have dissipated.   If you do decide to post something negative online, keep in mind that posted comments are getting harder and harder to delete with backups and archives being implemented.  Many websites and forums are now requiring a valid Facebook login to hold you accountable for your comments. It is more important than ever to make each word count.  Be certain that every word you post online represents who you are as a person and what you stand for. The world is watching.



Aspire To Be Inspired

From where do you pull your inspiration to create?  Is it from personal experiences? Desires? Fantasies? Something else entirely different?  The great thing is that it doesn’t matter what inspires you to create, it only matters that you are inspired and are thus creating.   It makes no difference who you are, we all need inspiration. It creates positive energy and allows us to channel it into creating our own projects that can in turn inspire others.

I am currently sitting in my office, a glass of wine in my hand and a mince pie on my desk. My office is my place of inspiration.  It is full of movie posters, action figures, memorabilia, autographs and photographs.  It is my space for creating.   I look around and I see inspiration, joy, dreams and achievements.  I see reflections of where I’ve been and hints of where I’m going.  It’s like a living scrapbook of my life.  

I am staring at an empty Word document.  This is my blank canvas.  In a few hours, the painting will start to come together as the page fills up with ideas and thoughts.  Characters will appear and plots will grow.  I will flesh out story lines and start forming the basis of a story.  This is the first day of starting a new novel.   I’ve just come home from our annual family visit to Disneyland and am basking in the glow of having seen my three year-old daughter walking around with a look of wonder and excitement on her face.  In her world, the princesses we had breakfast with are real, the Mickey Mouse she sees on television gave her a hug and signed her autograph book and she almost made Thor cry by thanking him for saving the day.  We were only there for five days, but we’ve made memories that will last us a life time.  Every step brought us something new.  She cheered when she saw Jack Skellington in the Haunted Mansion and let out a loud yippee when we made the jump to light speed on the Star Tours ride. Seeing the impact Disneyland had on her is wonderful.  The best thing is that she is no different than any child walking through the front gates.  Walt Disney has touched the lives of countless people young and old and even fifty years after his death, his legacy is stronger than ever and continues to grow at an astounding rate.

Disneyland is a huge inspiration for me and is proof that one person can change the world.  I leave the park feeling invigorated and inspired to create.  Sure, the Disney Corporation is frequently attacked for being a faceless and greedy business entity, but at its heart, the core product of Disney is making people happy. And that it does, tens of thousands of times a day.  Be it through new movies, toys or theme parks.  There is barely a child in the United States, indeed much of the world who has not been affected by Disney in one form or another.  These children grow into adults who hold fond memories of Disney movies and family trips to the Disney resorts and they in turn share these memories with their children. Each new generation continues to build new moments of joy.

We left the park after closing and were on the road by 10:00 p.m. It was a five-hour drive back home to Phoenix and my mind was racing for the entire drive with how I could make my stamp on the world.  Despite the late hour of the commute, I was wide awake forging ideas and stories.  A week later, I have characters and a plot in place. The same thing happened to me last and I am over a hundred and eighty pages into that novel which will be released in 2014.  It is a tradition I hope to continue long into my career.   

I don’t understand the negative energy that is directed towards Disney and its various brands.  There are millions of families whose lives have been touched by Disney.   I am now able to share the movies I grew up on with my daughter. The same way my parents shared the movies they grew up on with me.  Disney creates so much more than just movies and toys.  They create memories and traditions.  These hold far more value than any doll or movie ticket. The more recent movies provide strong female role models for little girls that I am happy for my daughter to be inspired by these characters.     

So why does Disney inspire me so much?  Walt Disney has been responsible for more smiles and memories than any creator in history.  If I can achieve just one one-thousandth of the joy that Disney has created, then I will consider myself a success.  While it may be aiming high to follow in the footsteps of such a large brand, I am a firm believer that if you don’t aim high, you will never reach those heights. You are only limited by the top of the ladder that you set for yourself.  Why not start climbing up the highest ladder?  Walt Disney didn’t and neither will I.

I’ve just placed a framed photograph of my wife, daughter and myself with Jack Skellington and Sally from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas on the wall in my office.  As my wall fills up one memory at a time, the inspiration brings me one step closer to changing the world and maybe one day becoming the inspiration for someone else to create.



TK31709 Reporting For Duty

This past week I was accepted as a member of the 501st Legion.  For those of you not familiar with the 501st, it is recognized by Lucasfilm as the premiere Star Wars costuming group in the world.  The costuming standards for membership are extremely high and only the best are lucky enough to be a part of its ranks.

The 501st gets to do all kinds of fun events as ambassadors of Star Wars.  But most importantly, and the reason I wanted to join, was the work it does for children’s charities.   Star Wars has given so much to me throughout my life.  As a child, it was the one big equalizer. Rich or poor, popular or outcast, if you loved Star Wars you were accepted.  Everyone had a favorite character and everyone got to role play.

My favorite has always been the Empire and in particular Stormtroopers.  It seemed fitting that my first costume would be one of the Empire’s finest.  Trying the final costume on after eight months of building it was as amazing as I thought it would be 37 years ago when I first saw Star Wars. 

To this day, Star Wars still holds a very special place in my heart and I am excited to give back to the community in the name of Star Wars and the galaxy far, far away.

Every trooper is assigned a TK number, after the Stormtrooper in Star Wars identified as TK421, as in “TK421, why aren’t you at your post?”  I chose TK31709.  It was the day I first met my wife and was the day my world changed.

Hold onto your dreams, they can come true.

Open the blast doors!