Inspire 2015 Speaker: Spencer Lum

Spencer Lum
Spencer Lum

In this series of blog posts we are introducing the faculty at Inspire 2015. Today we’d like to introduce you to Spencer Lum who will be leading the session Living Life Forward: Re-imagining brand to find voice, get clients, and take control of your future by staying true to your vision

Welcome to the worst job in the world.

A job where you're paid to be the most mediocre version of yourself. Where you'll have to fight every instinct you have, day in and day out, just to stay the course, and where the likes, love, and sharing you want will reward you the most when you sideline the person you are.

This is a job that asks you to render the creative impulse as formula, paying you to let repetition and predictability take the place of connection and heart. Experience works against you, and the greater your success, the more pressure you feel to keep doing the same. It's more weight than creativity can bear, as we settle in to the most standardized versions of ourselves. Instinct and feeling are rewired as stagnation and fear. Justification replaces thought. Caricature replaces self.

We enter this job for freedom. We pick up a camera in the pursuit of creativity. And, yet, it's exactly the realization of this creativity - what we call voice - that generates the pressure that stifles it.

Borrowing from Dead Poet's Society, voice is a blanket that always leaves your feet cold. You push it, stretch it, it will never be enough, you kick at it, beat it, it will never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying, it will just cover your face, as you wail and cry and scream.

That's the paradox.

If you try to find comfort from voice - if you try to define it or wear it or turn it into something to repeat again and again - you destroy it. Voice only comes when you engage the moment from the feet up.

To put it another way, it's constant free fall. Control is a myth we create to make ourselves comfortable. Reality means you take what's in front of your eyes, you soak it in and let it seep through your system, and you trust whatever it is that bubbles up into your head and your heart.

Put that into your images. That feeling is the real power of your body and mind. It's the real power of you and every experience you've ever had. You lose that, and your voice dies.

You have to engage the outside world. It's really the most basic of cycles. Observe and be aware. Observe what's around you. Be aware of your response. Breathe in. Breathe out. Do it again. And each time you do it, you'll be able to observe that much more. To feel that much more. And to understand that much more.

So while true voice means uncertainty is a life companion, it also means that hopes and dreams will live as your guides.

The alternative is insidious and deadening. We fight for voice, then once we start to find it, we squeeze the life out of the small bit of insight we've had, and we stifle all growth until the only thing left is a hollow shell of a life we know as the grind.

So while common wisdom may be that masters break the rules, the truth is, what masters really know is that there are no rules. As Jerry Garcia said, "You don’t want to be considered the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do."

This, we can all do.

What this job really asks of you is not to fall prey to the likes and the love. Not to give in to that needy corner of your soul that thrives on ego, but is too weak to live without the constant approval of others. The part of you that's so full of doubt, it runs from today, keeping true success an arm's length away, afraid to do, afraid to achieve, because the risk of raising the bar for yourself and experiencing failure is simply too much to bear.

The sad truth is no one gives a damn about our most insecure selves. No one wants to deal with a well of need and approval. It's the last thing worth fighting to save. People care when you're daring enough to lead the way. To step out of the middle of the pack, and to take the hits and run the very fastest you can run.

Deep down, everyone knows who's advancing and who's pulling back, and anyone living in retreat will eventually run out of ground. No one wants to get on board with that.

Be bold. Our job is to dive into the complex and murky waters of life and bring clarity. Give your images that clarity. The expectations, the pressure - they're there. But they're part and parcel of a life of learning, growing, and living with endless courage. In my book that's a pretty small price to pay, and if you ask me, I'd say that's not too bad a job at all.

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