As an artist who travels the world speaking at various corporate events and business leadership conferences, I have devoted my life to delivering one simple message: everyone is creative, but it takes a high level of discipline to activate it.
We like to think in terms of dichotomies, especially when we talk about creative genius.
Right brain vs. left brain. Inspiration vs. perspiration. Fun vs. work. Hustle vs. Patience. Creativity vs. discipline. And consequently, we believe that no one person can have both. You’re either a suit or a creative.
The Spark and the Grind
Sparks of insight originate from passion — these are the moments that make your heart race in excitement, the moments in which you’re enthralled by possibility. The grind is the necessary work to take your spark from pie-in-the-sky idea to reality.
In my new video series, I meet incredible people who embody both the spark and the grind. One such person, Gary Vaynerchuk, perfectly conveys this to me. An entrepreneur, angel investor, and CEO of a 700 person marketing firm, Gary is the embodiment of hustle. He trusts the process day in and day out.
The secret to trusting the creative process lies in embracing this duality of creativity — The Spark and the Grind. It’s a fresh idea plus fierce drive. Master both the yin and the yang of creativity and it’s a recipe for guaranteed success.
Here’s what trusting the process looks like from Gary’s perspective:
No Such Thing as an Overnight Success
Every single day, Gary Vaynerchuk opens his email account and finds “5 to 27” emails from people who tell him that they are quitting — that they’re giving up on their blog, or their book, or their passion project. Whether they are six weeks, nine months or even two years in, they call it quits because they are not seeing the results they had hoped for.
According to Gary, it’s patience that these people are lacking. They think everything happens overnight when in actuality nothing ever does… at least when it comes to success.
“There are zero people that you can name who had it happen overnight. Even the nine-year-old Stevie Wonder or the six-year-old Michael Jackson underwent years of work prior to reaching stardom, whether by their parents, by their uncles, or even with the greatest talents,” Gary said. “I was putting in the work for half my life from ages 15 to 30, every day from 7 am to 8 pm back then, to hone my craft and build an actual business.”
Embrace the Process, the Journey, the Climb
Anyone who knows Gary knows that his lifelong ambition is to one day own the New York Jets. The irony is that Gary loves the process of trying to buy and own the New York Jets so much, that actually reaching that milestone is something that would bring him displeasure.
“I made a video that is recorded for when I buy the Jets, and it’s going to say ‘This is the worst day of my life,’” he said.
Gary is obsessed with the chase. He loves the journey. The process. The grind. The climb. And he would suffocate without it.
“I want the sweat, and the pain, and the gratitude, and the happiness that comes along with the work.”
The Audacity of Pursuing the Ultimate Dream
If a more concrete action item were to come out of this post it would be the following: the next time you find yourself pursuing your dream — the thing you’d most like to spend the rest of your life doing if you could — and you consider quitting, reconsider.
A final thought from Gary on this topic: “If you have the audacity — the entitlement — to think that you should be able to do something that you love so much for the rest of your life, would you really give up after four months? After two years? As a matter of fact, every single person reading this post should be trying for that moment for the rest of their life.”
As I continue to grow as an artist and entrepreneur, I am increasingly convinced that to experience progress I require both the spark of expanding my imagination into possibility and the discipline of contracting my ideas with focus and precision to bring them to life.
This article is the first in a series that focuses on the core principles of The Spark and the Grind and the individuals who embody them. Check back here for more articles in the series and look for the book on shelves beginning March 7th.