Most of you will not understand what follows. I apologize in advance.
The culture that shaped me (skateboarding) and the language it created, is finally being recognized for the impact it has had on the culture at large. A pioneer and hero of mine, who today would have been marginalized because the language and substrate of our culture doesn’t make sense to a mind like his (it doesn’t make sense to a mind like mine), is finally being recognized for what he is…brilliant. That is, of course, Rodney Mullen.
It’s only now that we are able to decode the language his story is written in.
Those of us marginalized by ‘normal’ genuinely see a different world. I can already see it in my son Steele. He even takes in the world around him the way I do. Rather than simply looking at reality, he feels it with an inner sense I still can’t describe, even though I understand it. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have another soul with which to journey the plane of alternate reality I hover in. Over our 13 years of marriage my wife has learned how to connect with me, speak to me and hear across her world and mine.
Enter Rodney Mullen. I’ve been tuning into his journey since the beginning when I first stepped foot on those seven plies of hard rock maple set upon urethane wheels. The skateboard has been my brush and the street my canvas for more than 25 years. It gave me a language and substrate by which to communicate with a sub culture and a culture at large that I truly believe kept me from doing countless other destructive things in search for a way to hear and be heard in this world.
Rodney Mullen is a kindred spirit who sees the world in a way that I see it and was at a loss in terms of how to connect our world with ‘theirs’. He didn’t understand their words and their rules. Often written off and outcast for being counter to culture; it is actually a case of loss in translation that we simply didn’t have the time (or care) to decode.
But through the years of creating a language and finding others who could ‘speak’ it and build upon it…a new culture was built and people like Rodney could be viewed as normal in that new society.
The take away here is for the creative among you. At it’s root; being creative is coming up with a new idea that is useful. But new is scary. New might not fit within the language of the culture you’re trying to create in and for.
The finite content and context of the culture or sub-culture you’re working with can create an environment where you literally can not even speak or hear when your mind is truly free to create because you have moved onto the new and out of the current system. Think of the last time you had a brilliant idea from deep inside and all you got back were blank stares. It’s not that it wasn’t a good idea; it’s just that the language and substrate were not in place for normal people to hear it. You, quite literally, may as well been speaking another language.
If you truly are a creative soul…then you understand this pain. If you made it this far in this post and you haven’t made sense of what I’m talking about than let me look at it from the other side. I’ve been talking about the conditions in which real, true creativity happens. Let me quickly point out the opposite of it. The infertile desert of creativity; what does THAT look like?
Once you have made something, built something, developed an organization and a plan then what? You defend it. You protect it. Instead of your goal for building this thing being the main thing the institution is now the main thing. N+1 where N equals ‘maintain the institution’. True creativity can’t happen here when you have to spend all your energy on feeding the machine. The solution, I think, is to create space, a team, a department for you (or your team) to be completely free of worrying about the N in N+1 and instead focus on the +1. This is where creativity happens. I recommend getting the most ‘out there’ people you can find.
So with that; you should watch Rodney say it:
If you don’t have a person like this in your life; find one. Care for them. Work to understand them and then ask yourself;
Am I continuing to create or am I simply defending what it is I have already created?
I’m still amazed by the number of church leaders who don’t see the reality of how God is perceived by culture currently. It’s not 1850 anymore. No, God has not changed but culture has.
So there’s Ikea, minding their own business one day and someone discovers that a trace amount of horse meat is found in meatballs served at their cafe. I never knew Ikea even served food; do you have to assemble it yourself there at the cafe?
Ikea probably isn’t known for their food nor do they depend on it to have a thriving business model, after all they sell furniture. Yet a lack of transparency from one of their venders, who probably accounts for an immeasurably small line on the Ikea balance sheet, was found to have used horse meat in meatballs supplied to Ikea.
And in a flash Ikea has a PR fire to deal with.
Transparency is everything in our new, real time, communication world. Your organization simply does not have the resources or the power to control the message the way you once did in years past.
The only thing you can control about the message is how transparent you are and in that transparency you better have a good message because we can see right through you.
The old adage; sell for what the market will bear just doesn’t ring true anymore. No longer can you and your team scheme and strategize for how to game your ‘target’ into acting on your pitch. You have to have a real story that provides people with real value, because if word gets out you’re trying to slip one by, game over.
Once again an amazing surprise filled week has come to an end and now it is time to put into action that gleaned from wonderful conversations with brilliant people. Here are my notes of things I learned and things I shared.
Burnout, avoiding burnout, recovering from burnout and everything that goes with that seemed to be a recurring theme this week and it was providential that Mike Woolley was on hand to share his wisdom on the matter.
Key take aways: slow down, don’t try to please everyone, be real about problems and don’t value some job over your well being.
Another recurring theme was the various shortcomings of the Sunday morning ‘church’ experience. People fell into various camps on this one but most would agree that the ‘C’hurch has been phoning it in, at the very least, on the art and creativity side. Andy Crouch hinted at this in his talk and equated what the Church is producing with post cards rather than art…I think he’s right on.
The Sunday church experience is a pretty sacred cow to a lot of people (Boomers, older X-ers) and will take some time to rethink. I know I have some strong ideas about this.
This was an undertone both in the conversations I had and some of the content presented. Andy Crouch really drove it home with his talk. I love how he said it’s not so much about why artists are making terrible art but rather who/what in church culture trained people to want this crap? We CAN do better than this. I’m anxious to see what the next generation can come up with.
I was whipping my phone out throughout the week adding new tracks and artists to my ‘Recommended’ playlist. Heading into the week I assumed that literally everyone there would be on Spotify; I was shocked at how many people had not even heard of it. If music is important to you, get on Spotify now. If music is your career then you need to get Spotify Premium …NOW!
For me, Andy Crouch was the absolute highlight of the week…hands down. I’ve seen him in action a couple of times before and I knew he would bring some fantastic creative wisdom.
Phil Madeira was a joy to listen to both in the interview and in concert.
Marridee’s, always the breakfast of choice at Re:Create now has some stiff competition right around the corner at Frothy Monkey.