Gustave Boulanger's painting The Slave Market
How to Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps (Pt. III):
3. Fund your passion.
This is a self-explanatory one. You cannot succeed without actually spending time and energy on your craft and producing work. You must fund, that is, nourish your art. If you are a poet or writer, this means reading, writing, workshopping, and submitting pieces. If you are a singer, this means writing hot songs and performing on stages wherever you can find them. If want to be a real estate tycoon, this means getting your certificate, scouting properties, asking successful people the important questions.
It can also mean money. Taking the money you throw away on strippers and weed each week and using it on a keyboard or a law book instead. But much of it comes down to time and energy. If you’re building the next MySpace, how much time everyday do you spend on furthering your ideas? If you want to be the next Anna Wintour, how much time do you spend scouring fashion magazines, watching fashion trends, and by the way, what are your core values, big hairy audacious goals—where is your career plan?
Creating the best you takes time and energy, so I would advise not only working hard but also working smart. Working smart means working with others. Like Bob Marley said, “Collective security for surety." Find two others who are passionate and like-minded and make it happen. (I think three people is a perfect number for beginning organizations.) These two people should all be more driven, and if possible, more talented then you. Be like Miles Davis: There’s a reason he had so many great ensembles and it’s because he knew precisely who he was and what he wasn’t capable of, and he sought those missing qualities in other people. You’d be surprised how many people are scared to hire or work with people that are more talented than them, as if they’re afraid their partners will try to take over and run the show.
But that’s the wrong approach. Assess yourself and figure out what you’re lacking and partner accordingly. If you’re a meticulous businessman and you’re trying to get into music, grab someone slightly out of their mind and wildly creative. If you’re intrinsically lazy (and most of us are), grab the most hungry person you can get. If you’re shy, grab someone gregarious and charismatic to help you work the room. It doesn’t matter if folks only remember your partner’s name, as long as they notice one of you, your project moves forward.
If your project does not require a team, then nurture a group of individuals who will push you everyday in what you want to do. In the 8th grade, I wrote a play that was a complete rip-off of Alien called The Being for my 8th grade Communications class. I wish I could find it now. The script was full of characters walking around a big space ship, screaming and waiting to get eaten. We were going to use cardboard to build a control room, with twinkling Christmas lights for the little buttons and switches. Hilarious. Anyway, of course, we never did the play. But my teacher encouraged everything. We must have spent seven weeks planning something that never happened. And I was the star of the show, the director, playwright, HNIC (which is really funny, considering it was an all-white class). It was like Shakespeare in Love. I would arrive at class everyday and give everyone their new lines. And they would jump up and down when they saw their character got eaten or got to kiss someone! It was great, and it made me run home to write.
You should do the same, do what we do here at the Wondaland Arts Society, have an Inspiration Party! Have all your friends over, share your product, songs, stories, or ideas with them. Use their joy, love and support to help fuel your journey because—believe me—there will be times when you are crying, and you will want to quit. Start nurturing some shoulders to cry on.