Chad’s Blog

Hello creative people. Hard to find focus and prioritize? Me too. These simple tools have helped me at the day-job and in my own creative work. I’m writing and speaking about them on my newsletter -

I’m curious. When you think of starting something creative, and you hear the lizard brains voice in the back of your head. What does it say?

You’re too much of this or not enough of that to make this thing.

Something like that?

You can reply and tell me, and we can have conversation about it if you’d like.

Or you can write it down on a post-it or scrap of paper.

Or say it out loud.

Think about it once it’s out in the ‘real world’ and out of your head. It probably feels wrong once written or spoken aloud. Maybe even silly?

You can start.

It’s OK.

When we go for a walk, my dog Maggie stops every couple of feet to smell and check out the world around her. Sometimes this frustrates me.

Then I remember that for Maggie, each of these walks is like being a kid at Disneyland. Overloaded senses, moving from experience to experience. Fully engaged in each moment.

What stops us from living like a kid at Disneyland or a dog out on a walk?

Why do we lose moments?

Or distract ourselves from them?

Sorry for the profanity, but I was really bothered by my inner critic today.

Squid Games is really good, but violent & uncomfortable. For every episode of Squid Games, I need to re-watch 2 episodes of Ted Lasso to bring balance back to the force.

I’m adapting an agile software development methodology to my own personal creative work.

Each week is a ‘sprint’

  • Plan the work.
  • Work through it each day, communicate each day with partners
  • Ship the work.
  • Reflect on the last sprint - what worked and what could be improved

Anyone else doing this? Anyone else want to try it?

Been spending too much time tinkering and trying to make things work together. Fighting synch issues. Bouncing back and forth between too many options. This is my new reminder/mantra.

Ah, the first day of a new side project sprint.

My First Music Lesson

Last night, I had my first real music lesson. I have taken a couple bass guitar lessons before, and I knew the very basics. What the name of each string on my bass guitar is named. That’s about it. E, A, D, and G.

I’ve taken just a handful of lessons before, I never stuck with them. I’ve been thinking of taking them again, as one of my themes I’m working towards and with is Performance. Four years ago, I turned 45 years old. I opened up to try the things I always wanted to, but was too afraid to.

Things like:

  • Improv
  • Standup
  • Making and sharing personal projects more consistently
  • Skiing

I studied improv comedy and performed a couple of times between 2017 and 2019. In early 2020 I studied stand up comedy and performed once. Then the world went to shit. I’ve performed that same standup set from early 2020 twice recently (outdoors). I’m hooked. What was so terrifying before - standing up in front of people and creating an experience - is now like medicine to me.

Back to the music. I realized what I’m really looking for in my bass/music study isn’t to be Flea, or Claypool, or Jaco. I’m not seeking to be a technical and creative master of the instrument. I want to learn to make music, with the bass guitar as my tool. I want to be good of course, to be able to express myself through writing and playing music. To collaborate with others to make a shared experience for ourselves, and whoever may be watching and listening.

One can draw with a pencil, pen, computer mouse (not recommended), digital stylus, or their fingers. The tool isn’t the focus. Same is true for the bass in my case. I love the sound of the bass and how it can keep harmony and rhythm going throughout a piece of music. It’s my favorite tool at the moment. But my goal is to be able to play music, with multiple tools. I’d like to get to the point where I can improvise with other performers, just like with Improv.

Luckily my teacher has a strong interest in teaching music theory and an improvisational background. So we’re a good fit, straight away. Plus he’s a friend.

I made a sketchnote of my first lesson. It helps me to remember what I learned when I get it out of my brain and onto paper. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to ask for the kind of lessons I have just started taking. I would not have the ability to do even a simple sketchnote like this. Or express all these things in writing.

What will you be able to do in five years, that you would struggle with today?

Chuck was wise

A lifetime ago, when I was an animator and studying Chuck Jones, I found this quote from him.

The rules are simple. Take your work, but never yourself, seriously. Pour in the love and whatever skill you have, and it will come out.

It’s simple, but maybe not easy. How do you dig deep to create quality work, and also be lighthearted. To be great at what you do, but open to the fact that you are just a person. With flaws and some rough edges, perhaps.

Some thoughts:

  • Keep a regular creative cadence, as a single thing you make is less important than the repeatable structure you build. Some people phrase this as “show up every day”. Creative work is still work.
  • As fast as you can, get comfortable with feedback on your work (email me if you have feedback on this post). Some of it will be good and actionable. Some of it won’t be. Some of it will be misdirected and attack you and not the work. That stuff sucks. Critique the creation, not the creator when giving feedback.
  • Do both of these in public. Write about it, tweet about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Most of us are rooting for you and want you to succeed. What may be a boring routine, and perhaps a grind for you sometimes is straight up magic to others.

Tigers and Lizards

The Lizard Brain is the part of your brain responsible for handling threats. It determines if you should chose fight or flight when presented with danger.

The Lizard Brain can’t tell the difference between the actual tigers in the bushes and the perceived ones. When our higher brain gives control to the lizard brain, there isn’t processing, context, and nuance.

It just takes input (threat!) and makes a decision (fight or flight).

These days, not many people have to worry about the reality that there are tigers in the bushes ready to pounce.


Now and then

Then - Not being liked meant you were not able to join, or you got kicked out of the tribe. If you were on your own, you likely died.

The tribe was safety.

Now - Not getting likes on your posts feels like you’re not in the tribe. And that still feels like you are on your own.

Kicked out of the tribe. Unsafe.

The breath

A single focused breath can help us understand the tigers and lizards around us. Helping your lizard brain go onto the back burner. We need this subroutine running to keep us aware of what’s happening around us. But when it takes over, we feel anxiety and fear.

A single deep breath.

Then more if you want or need to.

When have you been wrong and were happy about it?

I thought last weeks Ted Lasso was the season 2 finale, turns out there are 4 more episodes!!!!

This isn’t the most I’ve ever been excited about being wrong, but it’s top 10 lol.

I think it’s a good time to take a break from this javaScript, as I just wrote a note to myself : Some refactoring in needed. But that is for tomorrow me.

New friend for the desk.

Solve with, not for

When coaching, it’s solving with, not for.

It’s easy to slip into a problem solving role as a coach. But that’s not coaching, it’s mentoring or consulting.

As a coach, when we give advice or solve for, not with, we close people off from themselves. We constrain them to our experiences and world view.

The coach is Obi-Wan, Gandalf, Dumbledoor, Alabaster. The guide, not the hero.

When we start to slip into advice or problem solving, flip this into questions for the person being coached.

This returns the focus to the Hero of the Journey. It’s their story.

The older I get the more I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

And so begins my favorite time of year.

Check out my Racket with Reddy2go. We discuss the color orange, and rapid fire idea generation. I should have had more coffee to make it all more rapid fire, lol.

Uh, the tags and smart folders are pretty powerful. Looks like I am headed back to native app for notes. I still love you, Obsidian, especially now that you can get all the readwise stuff for me automagically. So, it’s not goodbye, forever.

I was asked What’s the best trick you’ve found to help creative people do better creative work? I spoke and doodled a reply

Mind and Body feelings for creativity

Good morning

Thank you @patrickrhone for the inspiration to make a book (possibly books) from the things I’ve written, drawn, and photographed. In Day One, I’ve made a 2021 journal and several others to pipe things into. I selectively copy posts from the various sources to the 2021 journal. That is the one I’ll eventually print. Many thanks.

My first Music Lesson.