Friday, January 17, 2014

Universal Secrets to Success

When I was in my mid-twenties, a girlfriend and I enrolled in a drawing class at the local community college. She and I worked in the same office, so once a week when the closing bell rang we'd carpool over to the school to indulge our creative genius. I think she was there because she wanted to become a better artist. I was there because I thought I might meet a cute guy.

I did not meet any eligible bachelors, but I did learn a lot about drawing—and life—from my professor. Frankly, I think he would have liked to teach more about the latter than the former. I remember one night, he went into great detail about the benefits of eating a macrobiotic diet. Another, he talked about the importance of changing your perspective—and how he often laid on the floor and looked up at his dog to feel what it was like to reverse their roles. The night I turned in my final sketchbook, he told me my skin was radiant. I think I radiated beet red after that.

He shared quite a lot with our class, but what stuck with me the most were six little words he said to help us ease into the artistic process.

Slow down.
Relax into it.

The reason they stuck with me was that they could be applied to so many situations. Maybe every situation...

Think about it: If you're in conflict with someone, don't things end on a better note when you slow down and breathe? If you're doing something scary for the first time—like giving a speech or writing an email to someone you just met on an online dating site—doesn't it ease the tension if you take a few deep inhales and exhales and relax into the process? Some people, like my friend Mike, would probably even say this is a great mantra for sex.

I think this approach has universal applications. The trick is remembering to apply it.

After my teacher shared this advice with us, I wrote it on a sticky note and kept it at my desk while I worked as an advertising copywriter. When I would get anxious about crafting the perfect headline or coming up with a winning ad concept, I'd remind myself that the best way to get into the zone and access creativity was to follow those six words. It worked like a charm.

Where do you think it would benefit you to slow down, breathe, and relax into it? Or are you already using this approach somewhere in your life and seeing success? Do tell!


  1. Yes, great advice for anything. Thanks for the shout out. :)

  2. Thanks, brother. I'm glad you agree. ;)

  3. Replies
    1. It's funny how sometimes the simple stuff is the most effective, isn't it?

  4. I usually make an average of 17.5 resolutions a year. 2014 is the first year I've made less than 10 goals and only having 5 has made it easier to breathe. :) Also made some space for wandering and seeing what strikes my fancy.

    1. Oh I love that space for wandering! That's usually when you make the most important discoveries!