I've never met most of my heroes, mentors, or anyone I look up to. I have only seen them on the other side of my computer screen or in the pages of their books. Creative and ambitious people are hard to come by in real life. Without ever seeing this type of person face to face, it's easy to understand why a lot of people don't believe it's possible to turn their ideas into reality. You think "I've never met anyone who has done it, so what are my chances?"
Well, I recently got the opportunity to meet someone who has shown me that we don't just have to admire the stars, we can reach out and grab them.
Dori the Giant. A small girl with BIG ambition.
When she agreed to an interview I was ecstatic. This was someone who had been in newspapers, worked with major corporations, been featured in art exhibits, spear headed community projects, and done more freelance work than I could imagine. She had truly put time into her craft, pursued her passions and continually marched towards a life of fulfillment and meaning.
During this interview and subsequent conversations I learned what the reality of accomplishing your dreams can look like, the good, the bad, the ugly, and how to get through it all.
Here are the 8 things I learned from Dori the Giant.
1) Find ANY excuse to be creative.
This was a subject that she touched upon often throughout our conversation.
"I was going into a class called "Creative photography" and the teacher warned me that it was very technical and not creative even in the slightest, but I would find ways to be creative in my assignments."
This theme is pervasive throughout Dori's work. She turns the everyday, into the extraordinary.
People aren't going to approach you randomly and give you reasons to be creative or try something new.
You have to take every excuse you can find and turn it into an avenue for creativity, whether it has a purpose or whether it's just for fun. Even if it's just for fun, you are going to be learning new things along the way that will improve your skills and increase your confidence.
2) Look at things from every angle.
One thing that I noticed is that she never tied her self down to one perspective on a subject. Every time we spoke about an idea or project, she always looked at it from high, low, left, right and everywhere in between.
This wasn't just a way of approaching creativity though, it seemed to be her way of approaching life.
"...It has it's pros and cons. That's sort of like my motto and I often start off my conversations like that. I think my friends get mad because I say it so often, but it opens up the conversation to both perspectives so I like it."
The ability to step back and look at something from all angles is one of the most resourceful traits someone can incorporate into their personality.
Forcing yourself to look at all sides can be the key to finding the silver lining in any bad situation. If you get fired, you won't only think about the stresses of finding a new job and how embarrassed you are, you will also think about all the time you have now to pursue your dreams.
3) Surround yourself with creative and support people.
"For the past four years I've slowly been trying to collect a decent circle of creative friends, or friends who believe really strongly in my art. It makes all the difference. Gotta keep 'em close and pay it forward."
They say you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If the people you surround yourself with don't believe in you, how can you believe in yourself?
Surrounding yourself with other ambitious people will give you the boost you need when you run out of steam. You want friends that you can go to for advice, tips, and support.
There are plenty of studies that show the effects that people close to you can have on your habits and mentality. I remember reading one study showing that someone could gain healthy habits and lose weight just by being around other fit people. Never discount the effect that your environment has on you.
If all of your friends are negative, it can be hard to stay positive. If they are all lazy, you will have difficulty being motivated. When you meet someone who has qualities that you admire, try to engage more with that person and those qualities will cultivate in yourself.
This brings us to the next thing I learned from Dori.
4) Don't be afraid to ask for help, or help others.
Asking for help from other people seems to be a part of Dori the Giant's natural process when turning her more unbelievable ideas into a reality.
“Even if I have the time and money and motivation for a project, I often don’t know where to begin. I usually start with Google searches and move onto videos and eventually I start to e-mail people asking questions.”
But you can't always just take, sometimes you have to give as well.
“Often, people don’t like to just give away their most valuable information, especially when it comes to a method of art that is bringing in money or making them distinctively different. I know I’m the same way – I wouldn't give away my best secrets to just anyone! It’s always good to offer something in return, even if it’s just dinner!”
You'd be surprised how helpful people will be if you just ask. I convinced Dori to come out to this interview by offering her coffee. She was so nice that when we met up she wanted to buy me coffee. This spirit of give and take will help you to develop those oh-so important connections you will need if you plan on making your stake in this world.
But don't focus all of your attention on making connections.
“Connections are everything, and even though everybody wants all these great connections, you should also focus on your own assets and turn YOURSELF into a connection that other people will want to have.”
5) Learn what makes you tick and use it to your advantage.
When I asked Dori what she had done in the past to improve her situation, she had an answer that was just as creative and unique as she is.
“I got a lava lamp and it helped. Seriously. It helped with motivation. One thing I've found that motivates me are the little details of my environment and my comfort: mood lights, lamps, candles, scents, the right music, chocolate, and of course Facebook chat. Everybody is different so I suggest everyone experiments with their own inherent/stubborn psychological routines. Get to know yourself and be your own friend.”
When you are trying to find out what motivates you, gets you in the creative mood, or helps you overcome obstacles you should remember that everyone has different preferences towards rewards, inspirations, motivations, triggers, and routines.
A trick I use to figure out what will invigorate me and what will suck the energy out of me is my "Invigorate/Debilitate T-Chart." I write down everything I do throughout the week and split it into these two categories. It helps me put into perspective exactly what I can add or cut from my life to increase motivation.
You can try my method or come up with one that works for you because, hey, we are all different!
6) It's okay to have a down day as long as you don't beat yourself up.
When I asked her "Have you ever had periods in your life where you lost the creative "Spark" or inspiration? How did you overcome them?" she gave me an answer that you might not expect.
"Oh yeah, many, many times! To be honest, I rarely ever “overcome” it in the sense of fighting it. I overcome it in the sense of simply accepting it and spending my slump days playing video games, going out, watching some movies/shows and trying NOT to stress about how unproductive I’m being. Eventually my brain resets and goes “Hey, I feel like myself again! Let's do some art!” And you know what? Often I come back feeling even more motivated – which is another reason I don’t hesitate to just let myself have down days (and enjoy them!).”
If you are in a slump and you spend the whole day feeling guilty about it, you will end the night depressed and disappointed. That in turn can turn into a cycle, negativity begets more negativity.
So how do you break the cycle? Realize that off days are impossible to avoid completely, and use them as an opportunity to take your mind off of things! Maybe your brain is trying to give you a hint saying "You've been working to hard, I need a break!"
The next time you have an off day, enjoy yourself and let go of the guilt.
7) Don't fear change, it's a good thing.
“The only thing about me that doesn't change is how much I always change.”
If I said to you that in fifteen years your life was going to be the exact same as it is right now, same friends, same job, same living space... would that make you happy?
I'm guessing that hypothetical situation would be depressing.
If that is the case, then why do so many people fear change? Staying the same is far more depressing than even the worst outcomes of change. We were made to grow and explore, so get out there and get rid of your fear of change.
8) Get off your butt and do it before someone else does.
If you have a passion, an idea, or a goal you had better get out there now and start working on it. One of the things that Dori left me with was the very true statement that if you don't do it, and soon, someone else will.
"...maybe by the time I get the money someone else will have thought of it too and created it, and that’s just how it is. Original ideas need to be executed quickly – you don’t wanna look like a copycat.”
I know you have something that you've been thinking about doing for a long time now but for some reason, (lack of money, lack of motivation, lack of confidence) you haven't gone out there and done it. Well take this as your cue. It's time.
You may not see people in your everyday life that inspire you, but I hope this has inspired you.
If you want to start down the path to creativity, fulfillment and ambition you have to do something, or anything; because well... her GIF says it all.