Genius vs Scenius: rediscovering the creative process

The genius vs scenius dichotomy has profoundly changed the way I think of creative process. I first heard about it in Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work!

In this book, Kleon decodes one of the most common myths about creativity: the existence of a “genius”; someone who is extremely talented person and is able to create anything from scratch and without any influence. Someone who has a direct connection to the muse or some sort of divine entity.

This is impossible.

Creating something without influence is unrealistic. Talent is the result of practice, of betting on long-term goals and of compounding. Inspiration has nothing to do with muses or divinity. It comes from intentional discipline.

There is no genius in the formula to success. That’s where “scenius” comes into play, proposing a more integrative approach.

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Eliminating distractions in the next decade

If we are to think in decades to track our growth, we better start eliminating distractions and prioritize the things that matter.

Here’s a few considerations from various sources I’ve come across:

  • Put your family, friends, and partner in the first place. Meaningful relationships are crucial for personal fulfillment.
  • Analyze the content you consume on TV, books, and the Internet. If you constantly find that you’re not learning anything, it’s time to be more selective.
  • Make sure that you’re doing something that makes you happy. There is no time to waste in things that you dislike.
  • Cut negative people out of your life. Protect your own energy.
  • Have clear goals for every day, every year, and of course, every decade. Time runs faster than you think. Make every moment count.
  • Be bold and ask for what you want.
  • Judge less. Focus on your own progress.
  • Play the long term game.

How would you start eliminating distractions from your life?

Realistic motivation: where energy and discipline meet

Embarking on new projects or new goals requires motivation: a powerful energy that fuels your spirit. It’s a good feeling. When you’re convinced that you want to accomplish something, it’s easy to feel excited and begin each day with a strong sense of commitment. However, is this realistic motivation?

Motivation is a temporary emotion. Some days you can strongly feel it; other days, it’s completely gone, and you struggle to bring it back. With this in mind, I think it’s time to rethink this concept and look at it with different eyes.

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Intentional discipline: the good and the ugly

Everything you want to accomplish in life requires intentional discipline. If you want to improve your nutrition, you need discipline; if you want to be in better shape, your discipline will get you there; if you want to write a book, ideas will flow and you’ll get the job done as long as you show up and rely on discipline more than motivation.

This buzzing concept encompasses good habits, results, self-realization, self-cultivation and much more. It all sounds great. However, paying a price is part of the deal, and this is where disenchantment takes place. This is the part that makes any individual struggle.

In any creative endeavour, intentional discipline is an essential component. On the one hand, you’ll find joy and satisfaction in the work you produce. On the other hand, some days are more difficult than others, and you don’t always have the same levels of energy to do the job.

Let’s explore the two sides of the coin.

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Long term over short term games: choose one to play

I’ve been thinking about the meaning of choosing long-term over short-term games in any aspect. You name it, personal goals, business strategies, career paths and so on. There’s an urgency to see results as soon as we start working so that we feel accomplished. However, in the game of life, processes to achieve results are non-linear.

“How can I easily reach my goals this year?” “What are the best hacks to find the quickest path to success?” The truth is, there’s no shortcut. It’s important to understand the game we want to play. Anything that’s worth achieving requires a long-term journey.

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20 things that made my 2020 interesting

An unforgettable year is ending. In spite of all the terrible events that took place around the world, I found value in highlighting 20 things that made my 2020 interesting in my personal life.

This exercise gives me a sense of accomplishment, and it’s also a great way to practise self-reflection. From now on, I’ll do it every year to see where my focus has been and celebrate my own efforts.

Here’s the 20 things that made my 2020 interesting:

  1. Reconnecting with myself through therapy. Yes, this was the year I finally realized I needed help to solve issues from the past. The pandemic moved all my emotions and decided to pay attention to what was happening. Fortunately, I’m in a much better place right now.
  2. Knowing that my family has been supporting me throughout this process. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.
  3. Discovering the orange book on Twitter. This account was quite the discovery in the middle of my personal crisis. Whenever I read this person’s tweets, I always get new ideas and feelings about life. It’s simply that powerful.
  4. The 99u conference. This year, it adapted a digital format and anyone in the world could access it for free. In spite of the circumstances, it was wonderful to gain knowledge in every conference and meet the brilliant speakers who make things happen. My two main takeaways were: an hour of your time can make a difference to nurture your creative self, and noticing the world around you can fortify your creativity.
  5. Writing my first book! I’m taking the self-publishing route and, if everything goes well, I’ll publish it next year. Whoa.
  6. Speaking of self-publishing, my personal journey is allowing me to learn other aspects of writing. The editing process is crucial, and it’s important to invest in it and learn what kind of editing you need.
  7. Rediscovering bossanova music. Every difficult moment got better as soon as I listened to happier and more energetic tunes, such as Magalenha by Segio Mendes.
  8. Music always makes a difference under any circumstance. Here’s a more specific list of songs that defined the sound of 2020 for me.
  9. With strange highs and strange lows, these things helped me find light in times of darkness.
  10. Learning about compound knowledge. It’s a mindset worth adopting, and something tells me it’ll define how 2021 will unfold for me.
  11. Watching Sailor Moon with the same enthusiasm as my six-year-old self.
  12. Joining Tim’s listening party on Twitter when A Certain Ratio was featured. I missed the one with Friendly Fires, though.
  13. Speaking of Friendly Fires, “Sleeptalking” is one of their most perfect songs.
  14. In terms of music albums released in 2020, Petals for Armor by Hayley Williams and Freeze/Melt by Cut Copy were outstanding.
  15. Getting to know María Félix through her movies.
  16. Blogging in Spanish again.
  17. Paying off student loans.
  18. Deciding to diversify my personal library. From now on, I’m reading genres I had not read before. Here’s a list of books I’m hoping to get next year.
  19. Getting Live Spirits by Depeche Mode delivered to my home after waiting for it for six months.
  20. Being able to create my e-newsletter.

Compound Knowledge: the key to gaining wisdom

One concept that has been buzzing lately is “compound knowledge.” I’ve been seeing it often in the Orange Book’s timeline on Twitter. Anything this person shares on that channel interests me, and if there’s an idea that’s completely new to me, I do a bit more research.

Compound means “made up or consisting of two or more existing parts or elements.” Therefore, compound knowledge refers to integrating all the elements we’ve collected from the various sources we learn from and using them to upgrade our skills or achieve wisdom, for example.

However, compounding is a process that takes time. Immediate results are out of the equation. The core essence is patience and consistency. Outcomes will show as one continues to gain knowledge year over year.

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