Yesterday, the story of an origami Instagrammer punched me in the mouth.
On the Fizzle Show, Ross Symons tells his tale of quitting a demoralising job at an agency and starting a year-long daily origami challenge while he freelanced. Never intending it to pay his bills, he just folded because it made him happy.
Now that brands are paying him to make cute origami promos and displays for them, he has to regularly remind himself not to start thinking, “What will help bring more work in the door?” or, “Will people notice that I’ve already posted a green crane?” and simply fold whatever makes him happy.
He talks about how this advice is everywhere, and yet so few people take it up.
Why is that?
I have problems figuring it out myself. There’s no one activity that makes me happy like that.
Of course, it’s also the mastery of the craft that makes him happy. Yes, he does it because he enjoys it, and he doesn’t let himself plan too far ahead lest it kill the mojo that comes from joy…
…but that creative freedom is focused toward the mastery of one craft via the magic of commitment.
I once heard of an old Japanese tradition of devotees of a craft competing at a yearly event. It was usually filled with martial artists, bowmen, horse riders etc. One year, however, the winner was a man who could pour oil through the hole in the middle of a coin from half a meter above it.
The competition was devoted to honouring mastery… The subject of that mastery was immaterial.
You can’t choose just anything, though, right? For Ross, even while he was at the agency he would leave origami around the office to delight his coworkers. It was a simple source of enjoyment for him.
As someone who tends to overthink, I can’t see clearly into my own sources of enjoyment without tainting them with expectations and desire.
This sort of thing doesn’t require a keen mind.
It requires empty space.
Josh Waitzkin, who coaches performance to hedge fund moguls, says:
“I cultivate empty space as a way of life for the creative process.” (ref)
After making notes on this, I felt suddenly inspired to write down what I’m passionate about within my current commitment, Content Lab.
Here’s what flowed:
I want to help freelancers:
- Produce work they are genuinely proud of.
- Create a demonstrable track record as they progress.
- Learn rapidly and master their craft with support.
I want to help cool companies:
- Build the following they deserve.
- Have blogs that are actually interesting and unique.
- Keep the blog we create for them because of the results it gets and the pride they feel for it, not because they feel they “have to have one”.
I’d also add – I want to turn all the content marketing knowledge I’ve picked up over the years into a resource, a tangible asset that will outlive me and that helps others.
That’s good enough to start with, I think.