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5. You were born to create! Discover your creative path one small step at a time with William Willis

Rizwan Javaid
Rizwan Javaid
63 min read
5. You were born to create! Discover your creative path one small step at a time with William Willis

In this episode, I have a wonderful conversation with William Willis (@william3willis) - The Prolific Creator. William is the co-founder of the brand new Co-Create Community where creators can encourage and inspire each other to unlock their full potential.

A few highlights from our conversation:

  • Is our niche discovered or should we know exactly what we need to be known for before we start our creative work
  • How creating can help us find meaning
  • Why you should give yourself the freedom and room to create without putting pressure on yourself
  • The challenges we face in our creative work
  • Why sharing and getting feedback are critical parts of our creative work
  • Developing our creativity and craft takes time

Learn more about William Willis:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@william3willis
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bwillis/
Co-Create Community: http://cocreatecommunity.co


Episode Transcript

Episode Transcript (Machine generated)

William Willis:
People have this idea of, well, I'm not going to have fun if I'm not good at it. And I think that's just bonkers. It's not true at all. I think some of the best fun you have in your life is when you're stumbling around like a fool. The only reason you don't not thinking of it as fun is because you're too worried about what other people think. And so the truth is, though, that most people aren't thinking about you at all. I mean, that may sound kind of negative, but everybody's wrapped up in their own lives. And frankly, I think they need a little laugh every once in a while. So if you make them laugh, that's great.

Rizwan Javaid:
Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Low Fidelity Podcast. I'm your host Rizwan Javaid. Before we get started, I just wanted to let you know that there was a slight mistake on my part. As I was recording the conversation, I actually forgot to turn on the mic. And it was a mistake that I have learned from. And now I will actually be doing a tech check before every podcast conversation. So let's learn the hard way. The sound is there. It's just not as clear as I would expect. But you can still make out what I'm saying. And so all is not lost, but just wanted to give you a heads up. Cool. All right. Onto the conversation

Rizwan Javaid:
Today my guest is William Willis, also known as Coach Willis. He's a technologist writer and philosopher and also an athletic coach. His journey in tech has spent 30 years and which included being a developer and an executive. Over the years, he has come to specialize in growing and nurturing high performing teams through value inquiry, continuous improvement, learning, and awareness using lean and agile principles. William has also recently started the Cocreate community to help creatives work together to unlock their true potential. We'll definitely be talking more about this during our conversation. And William also writes a daily newsletter called Adventures in Life in which he shares one topic, one illustration, a quote, and questions to help you think deeper about the topic, as well as one small step that you can take right now to take action on that topic. Welcome to Low Fidelity, William.

William Willis:
It's a pleasure to have you here talking about the Co-create community, I'm really interested in learning more about that and also the topics that you usually talk about on Twitter and in your newsletter. I think they're all related to just helping creatives do their best work. So I think we'll have a really great conversation before we start out. I just wanted to learn more about you. How did you start out talk about your career and how you arrived to where you are today. I was an engineer in College, an aerospace engineer, actually. So I was actually a rocket scientist, and I had always dreamed of being an astronaut as a kid. I loved space. I loved everything about it, honestly. And in College, I was really able to feed that desire. In fact, my senior design project was building a space station and getting it into orbit. It was a team project all year long. I absolutely loved that. It was so cool to be able to do that. Unfortunately, when we graduated, the market wasn't doing well at the time. The defense industry, which is the aerospace industry in this country, mainly dealt with back then, or that's how they basically made most of their money had collapsed. So I wasn't able to be an aerospace engineer professionally. So I kind of fell back when civil engineering did that for a couple of years or a few years, but I learned quite a bit about programming as part of my engineering degree. And so at some point, I got tired of the civil engineering and transition to software engineering or developing software turned out to be a really good idea because that industry just took off in terms of how much developers got paid. And if I stayed an aerospace engineer, I wouldn't have been as financially fortunate as I was as a software developer.

So that began a career that spanned nearly 30 years, actually, and it started me just doing programming, actually. I think back in the day I was doing C Plus Plus and Pascal, and then eventually when Java came out, I jumped on that train and took that train quite a ways until JavaScript and some other languages started intruding in. The thing I've loved about developing software is just the creative aspect of it. Every time you develop an application, there's something different. There are always challenging problems to deal with, and a lot of interaction with people trying to figure out what it is they want. And they usually don't know exactly what they want. So that makes the process quite interesting. And just the nature of computers is how they frustrate you by doing what you tell them to do instead of what you want them to do. And so it taught me a lot of lessons. And over my career, I actually learned to really value other people, to work with other people, collaborate with other people. And I got pretty good at building high-performing teams and helping other engineers get better, mentoring them. And so that naturally led throughout my career of me kind of rising up through the ranks and getting up to executive positions.

There are various things you go through in software. Usually, you end up getting into design roles, lead roles, then into architecture, and then from architecture, you get up, then into the senior positions. And I enjoyed that, but I thought it was difficult. I had to keep figuring out ways to keep developing software at the same time because that's what I really loved. But in the end, I found it very difficult to do, which is why I left it ultimately. And when I left my executive role at a product company. It was in March of 2020, so it was right before the pandemic started. So really bad timing, of course. I had nothing else lined up. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was really scary. But at the time, I was about 50 years old, and something inside me was saying, hey, we need to do something more or something different. This isn't what we're supposed to be doing, ultimately. And so I had to go figure out what that was. So I started the first six months after I left was me doing what I usually did, which is I fell back on developing software again, programming. So I created a few different products. I was working with some people. I was going to do a start-up, but as I got towards it, I got close to getting that going and all the sacrifices you have to make to do that. That voice again said, no, this isn't it. This isn't what we need to do. So I kind of shut all that down.

And then I traded programming and for writing, of all things. I'd always been a fairly decent writer. I've been a voracious reader my entire life. But all my writings, it's in the company I work for. It's never really escaped those corporate walls. So this time the writing was for me. And the purpose of the writing was to figure out myself. Like, what is it I'm supposed to do? What are my principles? What are my values as a human being? What have I learned over the years? And I didn't want to just write. I wanted to share it because I knew at that point I just needed input from other people. I needed something objective that I couldn't give myself. And so I ran across some people on Twitter, actually. So Jack Butcher is one of the first people I ran across, and I was just fascinated by him. I was fascinated by how he did what he did, the illustrations that he created. He was a walking copy machine in terms of just. He had his ideas so well refined. He had his own language, and it really resonated deeply with me. And so I started taking a lot of those things to heart in my writing, trying to make it more concise. And also I've always enjoyed sketching, and I was doing that at the time as well. So I made my sketches a lot simpler as well. And at that point, I started really producing quite a bit of work. And then I ran into things like shipped 30 for 30, where I learned to write in a smaller format. And that took my writing took off at that point, basically, very beginning of January of the last year of 2021.

I began basically a year straight, actually. I'm still doing it now. I write every day. I publish five days a week, and it's an article, and it's an illustration. So five articles, five illustrations a week, and I didn't really know what I was going to write about, honestly. I knew it was probably philosophy, some of the principles that came out of the software, like continuous improvement, but really applied to the human being, not necessarily to creating software. And I figured at the time, I don't really know what I want to do. So I just need to go in this exploration of my interests and see where it leads me. And so I gave myself permission to do that for a full year. But even before I got to the end of the year, I started noticing patterns in my work. And I realized this is really how people should find their niche. They should not try to constrain initially or try to choose their niche. You really need to discover it. You need to explore your interests, whether that's writing, whether that's some other form of art or some other craft. And by exploring those interests, you begin to understand them. And then as you understand them, you also start kind of comparing and contrasting ideas. Go from one area to the other, and your niche is typically going to be a combination of those interest areas. But you would never know what it was if you didn't explore those areas, because you have to do that to really discover what fits, what resonates. And so that's kind of where I am today. I think I've gotten to the point where I'm seeing those patterns. I'm seeing what's resonating for me and the people who value my work. And that's kind of led me into this year, which is really the year of kind of creating products or making my work more accessible.

So all that work I did last year, as I continue writing, I'm going to now the people who value my work, it's tough for them to kind of sift through all the stuff I've done because now it's quite a large body of work and get to what they need. So I need to help them do that. I need to help myself, too. Yeah. You talked about creativity and development. Usually you don't hear the creativity and development together. Yeah. I believe we're all born to create. In fact, I think that is what makes us human. And when we don't create, we get sick, we start dying. Basically, I think when people are struggling in life, when they're depressed and some of these other issues that they face, I think a lot of it has to do with basically not being able to create like they were born to be quite different from person to person in terms of what that looks like, because there are so many things that we human beings are capable of doing. But I believe we all have that spark of creativity in us, and I think we're happiest when we give ourselves space to explore those creative interests. And the more we create, I think the better we understand ourselves, other people, the world in which we live, our purpose in it. In fact, I think creating and meaning are very closely tied together, because the more I think you create things, and it's not just creating anything, it's creating this kind of creation that brings you joy. It's the kind of creation that you enjoy doing. And when you do that, I think your meaning becomes clearer and clearer as you go through that process.

In fact, the first thing I did when I started writing was I was trying to figure out what is the meaning of life, what is my meaning of life? And I went through all the usual things. It's to be successful, it's to be powerful, it's to do this, that or the other. And only recently I came to the conclusion that my purpose in life is to create. And the question is, what am I supposed to create? That's really what it boils down to. I mean, heck, with my daughter. I created my daughter. It's one of my greatest creations, and it's really probably the height of our creative ability is to produce a child. But my writing, every time I write, every day, that's a creation, every time I draw something that's a creation. And so it's important for me, kind of my life's work, I think at this point now is to help other people rediscover that spark of creativity, help them give themselves the permission to do so, to make space for that in their lives and to explore their interests.

And when you explore those interests, that's when certain patterns become apparent. And the nice thing about just starting to create and giving yourself room to create is you don't have the pressure of what is my niche, what is my meeting? How am I going to make money? You can still do other things to support yourself while you still give yourself some space to create. And so that's where it all starts for me, with everybody. And then we just really have to start getting into what's holding people back.

What are the common friction points, the resistance that they face? Why are they facing them? And I think being a student of the mind is very important. As a human being, you need to understand the operating system that you're born with, because I think a lot of people have have a lot of misunderstandings about the way our mind works and the things that we say to ourselves and all the things that we throw ourselves, definitely the things that we've heard. And we've kind of internalized along the way as we grow. And from childhood up to now, we put on these layers. And I mean, you have to become a little bit more self-aware of how you got to this point. And what are some ways to identify some of these challenges that are holding you back? I think it often starts with creativity being looked at is not something that's serious. So it's what children do. Like they do art, they play, they do all these things, and that's what kids. It's just not serious. Or if you tell your parents, hey, I'm kind of College-age at this point. Should I be a doctor, an attorney, an engineer, or should I be an artist? Typically, what you're going to hear is, are you crazy? That doesn't pay very well. How are you going to support yourself? So it's kind of the old traditional view of an artist. But things have changed quite a bit these days. We now have this amazingly vibrant digital economy, and people are making good money at just about anything you can possibly think of.

We have so many tools, technologies at our disposal. We have all these great communities. We can connect with people all around the world. And it's just so much easier to be an artist in quotes, whatever that is, and actually make a living from it. And it's not that you have to cut off whatever job you currently have. And then like I did and then just, okay, now I have to make money. I mean, that's probably not a good pressure to put on yourself. So I always encourage people, look, if you have a full-time job or if you're freelancing or whatever you're doing, keep doing it. But just give yourself time each day to explore your creativity. Maybe it's 15 minutes. Maybe you can do up to an hour, whatever that looks like, give yourself that regular space, make it sacred, and then just start exploring. You can accomplish quite a bit in one week with that amount of time. And once you've created long enough and you start seeing, okay, this is kind of where I want to go with this. It looks like I'm kind of getting closer to what's really meaningful to me. I'm developing the skills now. Maybe I can start making a little bit of money, and then you can maybe slowly replace the current job you have over time. But I think it all begins with taking your creativity seriously. So not accepting the old line that, hey, you're never going to make much money with this, therefore you shouldn't really pursue it. I think what you're going to find is if you let that happen, you'll get to my age and maybe older, and then that voice of regret will get really loud, and you're going to really regret not at least giving yourself a chance, not at least exploring and seeing where it takes you. Because honestly, you never know where it's going to take you.

The creative landscape is pretty wide. There are all sorts of interesting things you can do. Yeah. I think as long as you bring your passion out and your creativity and you believe in it, the Sky's the limit for everybody because we all have unique views, viewpoints and unique experiences that we share with the world. People can resonate with those experiences. I agree. And I do want to mention when people start creating things, and it could be just as simple as. Right tweeting. You could start by interacting with people just through comments that's creating because you're writing, who knows whatever it is you decide to do. I encourage people to interact with others. And the way you do that is you find people that do interesting things that you like, and then you start interacting with them. And when you share your own creations, you get perspective from other people. They tell you what they value and what you do. They give you additional ideas, things that you may never have thought of that you can reinvest back into your creations. And so the sharing part and the engaging part is critically important for a creator. It also makes the journey much less lonely, because the last thing you want to do is to sit over in your corner and just create a loan because you're going to have dips. And when you have those dips, you need the strength of others to get through it.

So I think it's an integral part of your creative process is interacting with other people. In fact, I think we were designed that way. We're kind of built that way. We're very social creatures, and there's a lot of power in that in accessing someone else's mind that way, because you get all these different perspectives, insights and ideas. And it really I think it ups your creativity orders of magnitude. You talked about creativity and meaning. That journey isn't an overnight journey. It takes time. So I think what you suggest is to continue doing what you're doing, your job, your day job, and explore these different other areas. What are some challenges that you see that people come across as they try those avenues? There's a few interesting ones. I think the first is patience. I think we often get patients like going to start exploring my creativity now I'm going to take a big leap. I'm going to get there fast, and you can't because creativity is something that requires time. You have to explore those interests. There's a lot of detail in there that you have to get familiar with to understand. And you can't do that overnight, and you understand by doing. You can read all you want.

So if I think I'm going to become a writer, you think you can read your way to good writing? You just can't. Reading will give you a good vocabulary, but it's not going to make you a great writer. That only comes by you writing every single day. If you can hear the dog in the background what's going on over here. And that's the truth of anything. If you're a painter, sculptor, if your art is illustrations, anything in life, it takes time to develop that skill. Right. And that's what creativity is all about. And I think the more time you give yourself to do that, the more you'll understand that craft that you're involved in, that's the skills that make up that craft. And the more you'll understand the nature of it, how much you enjoy it, how much other people enjoy it.

There's all these things you have to discover along the way. And so that's the number one being impatient. Another one that's very common is I'm just not good enough. And this is not just about creativity. This is just us human beings in general. We're always telling ourselves this like, oh, my God, I should have said this. That and the other in this conversation I had, you know, you do something silly like, oh, I'm so stupid. Why did I do that? Why do I keep making mistakes like this? I'm so unlucky. It's just one thing after another. And I think that's where being a student of mine helps. Your mind is always trying to keep you safe. That's the number one thing. How do I keep my person here? How do I keep them from walking into a manhole in the street or falling off a cliff or getting eaten by a Tiger or whatever it is? Granted, we don't have a lot of those issues these days, but those instincts are still there. And what you need to understand is it's not a bad thing. It's not a negative thing.

William Willis:
It's just your body trying to keep you safe. And so what you need to be thinking inside your head is, okay, I recognize what this is, all right? And maybe I'm taking too big of a step. So I just need to take a smaller step. So the fear is a good example. So fear. There's two parts to fear. There's the emotion that it arrives on, that's the medium of fear. And then there's the message inside of that. Most people never hear the message. They just respond to the emotion. The emotion is going to go up and down, depending on how close you are to the edge of your comfort zone. So if you are I mean, if you're out of your mind, frightened, then you're probably taking way too big of a so you're going way too far out of your comfort zone. So if you simply pull that back a little bit, you say, okay, fear, my old friend, I know you're trying to keep me safe. Let's do this together. But let's take a smaller step. I agree. Maybe this is a little too much. Let's take the smaller steps. You take fears hand, and then you step off that edge. You take that step, and you're like, look, that wasn't too bad. We did it. Now let's take another small step. This is one of the things I learned in software, these tight improvement cycles, the kind of the Kaisen approach to life. And so if you understand the nature of the thing and such that you can actually hear the message, well, now you can use that to your advantage. And instead of looking at something like fear as a negative thing, you look at it is actually a positive thing. It's your traveling companion. It's giving you signals that are important. And there are other things too rooted in fear, like imposter syndrome and those other things that can be viewed. These are often viewed negatively and are something you want to avoid. But there's also this drive inside of us to become better, to be better what we do so that humans, we tend not to be satisfied with the last thing that we did because we always want to do something more.

We always want to get more, do more, be more, be better. And so we have to recognize those that driving us as well. And that's where some of these negative thoughts inside of us come from as well. Like we're never going to be good enough or you didn't do well enough or that sort of thing. You can think, okay, that's me just not being good enough or you can think, well, that's just me wanting to be better. And there's not necessarily anything wrong with that. I just need to recognize that that's just my mind telling me we need to be better. And that's fine because we do want to be better, right? That's one of the reasons we're doing this. A lot of the problems that we face are rooted in fear. And so if you just have a better understanding of how your mind works, kind of the psychology of your mind, your cognitive biases that you have, it brings awareness. And that awareness is important when you face these challenges as a creator. And the best way to overcome them is to have that objectivity, to know why they're happening to you. So then you can basically turn them to your advantage. So this resistance then becomes really kind of a Crucible through which you actually get better. That's the personal struggle.

But then there's community, which is people. And I think people are a big help in the creative journey as well. So when you face these issues, its tiresome to constantly deal with them. And there are moments in your journey where even though you know what's happening to you, you just can't deal with it. It's just too much. And in those times, that's when community is very important, where other people are very important, where they can, then they can help you through those moments. They can lend you strength. They can also give you some objectivity where you need it as well. Like Rizwan, there you go again. You know, you're much better than that. You know, you're not terrible at this. Look at all this stuff that you did. It's beautiful, and we love your work, and you're just having a down day, and that's natural, and that's okay. But tomorrow is one. I know you're going to be back at it, and you're going to be better than ever. And you just need to believe in that yourself. And we need other people to tell us that sometimes, sometimes that message coming internally is just not good enough.

Rizwan Javaid
We may say to ourselves, but it just doesn't resonate because we've already got the other voice. The inner critic is so loud that our voice kind of gets turned out. And we go back to those natural reactions that we have.

William Willis
We get very emotionally invested in things, and that's chiefly our downfall. Hey, listeners. So this is the point where I realized that the mic was not on. William and I had a little laugh and we continued our conversation. So we'll be back to the conversation right after this.

Rizwan Javaid:
I'm over here freaking out. That's okay.

William Willis:
And don't be too hard on yourself. I know what you're thinking right now. Yeah, I'm going through exactly what you're talking about. Okay. I can't believe I did that. What's going on? Like when we're talking about the topic.

William Willis:
I know where your mind is going, this is a great thing about this. Like podcasting, for example, that's one of your creative areas. And so the more you do podcasting, the better you get at it in terms of a skill. And I assume probably the more fun you're going to have. Right. Because you can concentrate more on the content, the people you're with, and less on the technology and the glitches and all that stuff. Yeah. So as you can see, I've got some ways to go. Yeah, but it's great, isn't it fun? I mean, honestly, that's another thing I would love to just touch on real quick. Sure. Is this whole apprentice mindset and people have this idea of, well, I'm not going to have fun if I'm not good at it. And I think that's just bonkers. That's not true at all. I think some of the best fun you have in your life is when you're stumbling around like a fool. The only reason you're not thinking of it as fun is because you're too worried about what other people think. And so the truth is, though, that most people aren't thinking about you at all. I mean, that may sound kind of negative, but everybody's wrapped up in their own lives, and frankly, I think they need a little laugh every once in a while. So if you make them laugh, that's great. And if people see that you're having a lot of fun doing what you're doing, even though you're not a master at it, that touches people very deeply, you may not see that it may not appear that way, but they remember it.

Yeah. But more importantly, in the beginning, it's for you. Whenever you're beginning something, you don't really have a big crowd or following necessarily. So it's all for you. And it should be done for you because you're exploring your interest creatively and why you do so you get better. And if you're sharing with people along the way you're building that following as you're getting better. So when you get to the point where you have a larger following, where it really matters, now you've built up the skill and everybody thinks, wow, that guy is a natural. Yeah, he must have been born that way, right. Exactly. Starting out, we compare ourselves to the people who have been doing it for 510 years, and they've got it all figured out.

Rizwan Javaid:
And that's a big challenge, because then you keep comparing yourself to them. And when you don't see those results, then that's the point where you can just quit or not move forward. It's definitely a challenge. And the changes, well, we expect it to be fast.

William Willis:
Right. And it's terribly unfair. It's a comparison you can never win. That's not the comparison you want to make. I always tell people the comparison you want to make is compare yourself to the person you were yesterday. That's the comparison you want to make. The nice thing about that is, first of all, the difference is never big. So even if you fall back, that's not a huge deal. But every little improvement matters and you should celebrate every single improvement. So when you figure something out for the first time or you do something maybe twice in a row for the first time, and you do it as well as you want to do it, you have all these wonderful little discoveries that you make creatively and these little improvements, these little levels you reach for the first time. And that's the fun of the amateur. It's those novice gains. So there's this thing in strength training where whenever somebody starts working out, like the first month is just wonderful because you make huge gains in strength. Right.

And your body gets more better definition. And you think, wow, this is amazing. If this keeps going, I'm going to look like I'm going to date my son, looks like Lou Ferrigno or something like the Hulk. If I keep doing this. Right. But you level out at some point. And I think there's a parallel in all creative endeavors where initially the learning comes fast. Right. You improve quite a bit because you're starting low. And human beings, they're good at learning new things. That's one of the things that we do. We're very curious. And so that's what I think everyone should focus on. It's not how bad you are, but how much you're improving and how much fun you're having doing it.

Yeah, I think that takes a change in perspective. And when you're starting off, I know when I started this and even writing a newsletter, I was focused on the wrong things, like how many subscribers I'm getting each day when I don't see anybody. Then luckily this time around, because I've had a few rounds of starting something new and then not seeing it through because I just haven't had any feedback or response from people and giving up. And then writing that wave of coming back and saying, okay, now I can do this. And I feel like now, after two or three times trying it now I am able to focus on the right things instead of the things that don't matter.

Rizwan Javaid:
Maybe they matter later on. But as you said in the beginning, those things shouldn't matter. It should bring your passion and let that drive you.

William Willis:
Yeah, especially early on. It's impossible, honestly, for us to not care about the vanity metrics, even myself. I catch myself, look at that. I just got across this point. This is great. And it means something. It definitely means something. It's not completely meaningless. But you bring up an important point when you're early on, they don't really matter that much. And there's so many things that go into it. Like who are you connecting with or who is following you? It depends on what you're putting out. And will they actually interact with you? Will they engage with you? Some people have much smaller following than others, but they have much more engagement. And so it's all over the map, honestly. And that's why, especially early on, you can't take it too seriously. Because first of all, the audience isn't that big.

So you don't really get a good scientific measurement of how well things are resonating. Like, people will make the mistake of looking at metrics too early and trying to figure out what resonates too early when you really don't have a good sample size yet. So why bother? I mean, so why not just take all that off the table and just do what you love to do? So if you do what you love to do, who are you going to attract? You're going to tend to attract the people that love doing what you're doing. You know what? So what if it's not a million followers? Maybe there isn't a million people out there that love what you do, but maybe you eventually attract 100,000 people or 1000 people, right? I mean, heck, even getting a few hundred is enough to actually start monetizing your work. If you really have true followers, people really enjoy what you're doing. So that's why I say, forget all this metric stuff. Forget all the analytics and trying to be all complicated about it. Just do what you love. Put it out there and engage with people. That's the most important part. In fact, at this point, I actually don't really track in terms of likes and comments anymore. I track in terms of how many ideas do I get from my engagement for each thing that I post? That's my number one metric. So if I have an article that I post that gets me 20 different ideas that I append to my article, that's a treasure trove. I

've gotten all this great perspective, some of these things I haven't thought about. So I'm going to improve what I just did massively by that. Whereas another one maybe I only got five. Wow. That one didn't work out too well. I didn't really get too much out of my engagement. And so it's the other one I'm going to be probably spending looking more at and trying to figure out why do I get so many more ideas on this one? And so I encourage people to and this might need to get into talking about ideas and how to collect them. But I think ideas are the currency of creators, and ideas really matter. So the more of them you can find, the more of them you can capture in your interest areas, the better you'll be creatively when we're starting out new, we don't want to make mistakes, but I feel like mistakes are opportunities.

Rizwan Javaid:
What are your thoughts on making mistakes and learning from those?

William Willis:
Yeah, that's where all the learning happens. I think I have this view of failure. That's a little odd. I think maybe compared to most people I've been told lately, well, most of my life I've been told, don't fail. That's awful. And then as I got deeper into software and I'm dealing with teams and people and human beings, I started to learn that, oh, failure is great. Let's just be supportive of it. Let's let people make mistakes and let's give them a safe environment within which to do that. And let's improve the system to try to encourage things other than the most mistakes. Lately, I've come to the conclusion that I don't want to. Now back to not wanting to fail again, because the way I define failure is failure is really rooted in indecision or your unwillingness to learn from your mistakes. That's really the only way you fail in life. And yeah, you may say you're arguing semantics. It's the same thing in the end.

And sure, OK, I agree maybe somewhat there. But mentally, semantics can be important in terms of your mental health and keeping going. Right. So it's very important. So what I encourage people to do is don't think of it in terms of success and failure. Think of it in terms of one experiment after the other. You're a little mad scientist, a little creative mad scientist, and you've got all these little experiments and they're just results. And you learn from the results, and then you either improve that experiment, run it again, or you move on to another experiment and you just keep going and you have fun while you're doing it. And yeah, there are some times where that kind of hurt. I didn't really enjoy that one too much. But you're always trying to kind of repoint yourself back into the direction of fun and enjoyment. And so that's also led me to start thinking, well, let's fall down a lot.

Why not fall down? Falling down is fun as long as you're not falling off a 100-foot cliff. So what if you stumble and fall on your face? Frankly, on the ground is where I've learned the most in life. After a fall, I'm sitting there wondering what just happened to me. That's probably the best place to meditate in life right after a fall. And then you get back up again and you keep doing it over and over again. I mean, look at, look at a baby who's learning to walk. They fall down a lot, and they often they're giggling and have a smile on their face. And sometimes they get a little grumpy about it. They get frustrated, too, but they don't get out. They just keep at it. They're relentless. They just keep going. And I always think about a child that's learning to walk whenever I get down on myself about falling down, because that's how you learn. You can't go out surrounded by cushions or a bubble. You have to get out there into life.

You get your hands dirty, experience it, get all in there and all the good and the bad, and that's how you truly understand the thing. And so to me, failure doesn't really I don't fear it anymore because I know I control whether I'm failing or not. And the rest of it really has more to do with am I enjoying this or not? If you're making mistakes or you're failing, it kind of is an indicator that you are trying new things. You are expanding. So it's not like you're dramatic, something's happening and you're failing. So it's part of the journey. Yeah. I mean, think about it. Think of yourself. You're kind of in this Fort and the walls of your Fort. That's your comfort zone. That's the edge of your comfort zone. That's the edge of the known universe for you. So within that comfort zone, you're pretty good at most things. I mean, you still mess up sometimes because you are human, after all. And that's wonderful. But as soon as you go outside that Ford's walls, you don't know what's out there. You have no clue what to expect. You don't even know what the terrain looks like. So, of course, you're going to make a lot more mistakes out there than you would inside your comfort zone. And so you really have to understand that going out. And you have to remind yourself of that constant like, yes, I'm new here. I have a lot to learn. But there's fun in learning. That's where wonder exists for an adult.

All that wonder you experience as a child, all the new things you learn, that's where that comes from. Whenever you face something new, that's a chance to discover something new and discovering things that's like an adventure. That's fun. So make it fun. And look at it that way. Don't look at it as you're scared to death. Somebody's going to jump out. You jump out at you. Something's going to hurt you. You're going to fall off a cliff. Don't be silly. Don't be silly. And how you approach it and put yourself in danger be smart about it, take those small steps, but revel in it. That's what it means to be human, because we're very curious. We love to explore. We love to expand boundaries. We love wisdom. So the more of that we can gain, the better. So I say get after it. That's how you truly feel alive as a human being. Yeah. You talked about the experimentation mindset that we need to have. And I came to that realization recently because before what happened was even if I'm trying out a new recipe and it goes badly, that kind of would bring me down. And I wouldn't Cook for I wouldn't try something new for a long time. And that keeps happening over and over in my work or in my life. I try something and it doesn't work. And I try something new. It doesn't work. We give up. In fact, I don't know how this would happen, but then I thought think of things as an experiment. Like you mentioned this.

You try something, you don't succeed or it doesn't work out the way you were expecting it to. But what can you learn from that experiment so you can improve next time, not put everything into the success of that little experiment, but what can you gain from that so you can keep improving? I agree. And also diversify your experiments. Don't put all your experiments in one basket, so to speak. That's why having diverse interests and we all do is important. And I also think you should have probably a mix of things you do well versus things that are new. I think that's also a mistake sometimes people make is they do too many new things at once, and that wears on you a little bit. It's kind of exhausting. And you need to kind of crawl back into that comfort zone occasionally and rest a little bit, reflect on what you've done, think about the things that you've learned, process it all, and then go out for another go at it. And so I think that creativity is a cycle. It's not just go go all the time. You actually have to give yourself time to rest. And just as you need time alone, you need time with people, you need time away from both of those things. And it goes in cycles. And you need to understand the signs of when you need to rest, because if you don't allow that, your creativity suffers. You lose your edge, kind of dull the knife, so to speak. And the more you do it, the worse the effect gets. It's kind of like overtraining yourself physically and you can cause yourself serious injury.

And so rest is incredibly important. And that's why some people are very negative against what they call the hustle culture in these side hustles people are always hustle, hustle, hustling on top of full time jobs, and they don't give themselves enough rest. And so that's where some of that negativity about the hustle thing comes from you just have to keep an eye on that. You're a human being, after all. You got to be kind to yourself. You've got to take care of your body and your mind. You got to take care of your family. There are some things that you're in life that are very important, that are number one, you got to make sure those are in good shape because that allows you then to come from a place of strength. Yeah. There's the idea of refilling your refilling your well of creativity because it does deplete the more you use it. So you have to however, you need to recover, rest, replenish, and not just create the time. You need to be able to take things in. And some of the activities you mentioned, writing and reading, those are two things that help you. I feel like replenish that creativity. And also you talk about reflection. Writing plays a big part in that. Can you talk about how that has helped you in your career? Yeah, it certainly can. Writing is interesting when it comes to reflection because some people use it almost as meditation. There's this concept of morning pages, of journaling. There are various forms of it, and it's a good way to explore the inner universe.

There's kind of the outer universe, which is everything external. Then there's the interview diverse. And frankly, the inner is just as big as the outer. And so journaling and writing is one of some of the things that actually help you explore that part of you. Now for me, I look at different types of writing because there is a form of writing. When I'm writing an article, for example, that's me being fully creative, very active. So that's kind of the Yang part of me. But then the Yin part of me might be doing my morning pages or something. So I'm just writing freely. I have no constraints. Whatever is in my mind, it's coming out. So I'm channeling either myself or the universe at large. I don't know what it is, but it's coming out, and it's very therapeutic to get all that stuff out first thing in the morning. But for some people, writing is not really a good way to reflect or to meditate and taking walks. Doing other things are good ways to do that sort of thing. And mixing those things throughout your day is also good. I have a certain viewpoint on willpower and motivation. So willpower, for me, is an exhaustible resource. And so obviously, when you get up in the morning, first thing, you have the most willpower for the day. So typically you'd want to do your most important thing or things first thing during the day. And then in order to replenish that willpower throughout the day. Maybe that's a break that you take. Maybe play with your kids, take the dog for a walk, meditate, do something fun that doesn't require maybe too much of your mind or thinking to replenish the willpower tank. And then motivation for me is a different thing.

Motivation, I think you get from the act of creating something that you enjoy and that motivates you for future acts, for future creations. So the more you create and enjoy, the more motivation you get. And so those things are also important when we talk about creating the creative cycle and being active in your Yang state versus your Yin state, where you're a little bit more passive, meditative, figuring things out type of thing. And the reflecting, relaxing part, that's typically where you actually get your gains. It's kind of like when you're training your muscles, when you're in there, you're working really hard, you're pushing your muscles to the limit and you're kind of damaging them a little bit. And when you're resting, that's when your muscles are healing and repairing themselves, and then they're adapting to that stress. So that's when you put on maybe a little bit more muscle. So I think we work that way. You can see that in other areas of your life as well. I think this is one of them.

When you're actually acquiring wisdom, it takes time to process what you just learned and convert that into wisdom. And so that's the adaptation part. You enter as one person when you're doing something actively, and then as you're reflecting on it, you come out of that reflection period as a different person. So you've kind of grown a little bit based on what you've learned. You talk about Yin and Yang. Can you talk about that a little bit? Yeah, it's getting a little bit more into the spiritual side. And there's a lot of interesting parallels to some other philosophies, Eastern philosophies, that sort of thing. Like, I'm a big fan of Wuwei, for example. Maybe we talk about that later. But Yin and Yang for me is good to use that with creativity and the moon phases coming to this as well. The waxing moon versus the waning moon, you can look at a beach, the tides coming in and out on the beach or the waves coming in out on the beach. So you look at a wave when it's coming in on the beach, that's the active phase of the wave. And then when it's going back out the sea, one is exhaling, one's inhaling. You see this all throughout nature, these cycles in nature where there's a burst of action and then there's a stepping back, gathering your strength, and then going forward again or kind of expending energy and then building the energy back up again, expending it again. So we're no different.

We are part of nature, and those cycles are important for us. I mean, you see it in our days, right? We sleep part of the day, we awake part of the day. And sleep is incredibly important. If you don't get enough sleep, you're not going to be at your best obviously. So you can look at Yin and Yang that way. The Yin is typically associated with the female Yang, male, one's fire, one is water. I mean, there's all these associations. Right. But to me, in creativity, it's really all about how active you are creatively versus how meditative you are creatively. And that cycle alternates and you need to recognize the need for it.

William Willis:
Yeah. I think just the idea that you have this chaos and then there's order and you kind of need both to be able to do your best work. They kind of feed off each other. And so you have opposites, even though we may not appreciate the opposites, but they're there and we learn to work within them. The thing I like about the YinYang comparison is that even when one is kind of dominant, you still have a little of the other one, even at the peak of one, and you're the very minimum of the other. There's still some of it there. So it's not worth 100% this 100% that. So it's kind of really nice, this flow that you establish. Right. Obviously, it's not healthy to just keep creating, creating great and creating, and it's not healthy to keep rusting, rusting resting. Those are extremes. And you don't want either one of those. You want a good mix of those two things. I encourage people however you want to look at it, however you want to think about your creative cycle, still think about it as a cycle, because that's important. Yeah.

And I guess make the best you saw either States whether you're in the creation mode or you're in the recovery mode, try to make the best of that time instead of just depending too much on the creativity part. Yeah. It's almost not intuitive like you think, well, I think I'd be more creative the more I could actually do and the more I could learn and that sort of thing. And you don't think, oh, actually I could be even more creative if I actually just lay off of this and went for a walk. That's why I'm convinced that's why when we often take a break, go do something for like ten minutes and come back. So we often have our best insights because we've given our mind, we've taken our mind off of that. Let it do something else, focus on something else. We kind of get rid of the stress that builds up all that junk that builds up in us as we over focus on something, we allow ourselves to relax. And in that more relaxed state, we're able to create more naturally again. And so if you really think about it, you look at your own life and you look at where you're having challenges creatively and then times when you're not, I bet it's probably often tied to that cycle and maybe where you're out of whack in one case and maybe where you're just really doing well with that cycle you're getting good amounts of both of these things. You talk about creativity and motivation as we're starting something new.

There's also creativity and the confidence that comes with taking action. Any thoughts on that? On how they together? Yeah. So initially I think we enter things with a little bit of faith, like faith? Yeah. I think I can do this. And then as you do it, more and more, you build confidence, and that confidence slowly takes the place of faith. And I think that's a very natural thing that happens. I mean, I know when I was a young programmer, I wasn't very confident at all. In fact, I was always kind of scared of making mistakes. I didn't know when problems came up. I got really worried, like, am I going to be able to solve this problem? But after I've done it for 20 years and I've seen just about everything you can possibly see when a problem comes up. I'm not scared. I just take a deep breath. And you know what? For 20 years, there hasn't been one problem I haven't been able to solve. No. It's never been easy, right? I mean, it's always a little stressful. It's difficult. Yeah, that's the nature of it. But either I or someone I've been working with, we've always figured it out. And that's what confidence gives you. It distresses you in the moment because, you know, you'll figure it out one way or the other. It's a guarantee at some point if you've been doing it long enough. And so there is that transition that has to happen from when you first start something where you don't have that confidence to where you actually get enough of it. Right. So that you really build that momentum.

And there are various ways early on to deal with that, Imbalance. I think that's why it's very important early on to work with other people, especially maybe somebody who's more experienced, because not only they can help you on the skill side, but they can help you with the confidence issue because they've seen experience things you haven't yet, and they can help guide you through those moments. So that's one way to deal with it, and another one is we've already been through this before, and this comes up a lot is just to take smaller steps, because if you overextend yourself, you're really setting yourself up for failure. And that's not a place you want to be. But if you're taking manageable steps, that's a height you can reach. You can actually get up that step. But if the steps too high, there's no way to do it. You don't have the right size ladder. You're certainly not strong enough to get up to yourself. And it's kind of silly to expect that out of yourself. And there's some other strategies as well, but those are probably two of the bigge
st ones early on, before confidence kind of overtakes faith in your ability. Yeah, I think creatives. A lot of times we're in our head a lot. We over analyze or overthink, and sometimes we don't even get started. And so that we don't even begin that cycle because we're too much in our head. Right. And that's perhaps the biggest tragedy of all. Yeah. We overthink. We were scared. I think all those things that we talked about procrastination, fear, doubt, all those things come to play. But we haven't even gotten started yet, and we've already lost the war, right? Yeah. And the failure isn't in doing something and messing it up. The failure is not even doing it. That's the real failure. And that's the biggest failure. And in fact, the biggest of all failures is to not even get started at all on this thing that you want to do where you haven't even taken the first step yet. How do you really know you've never experienced yourself? Like, how do you know you won't be good at it? How do you know it's too difficult for you? How do you know that you'll always be terrible at it or you'll never be as good as this person? You can't know because you've never experienced it yourself. You don't know it intimately enough. Intimacy with something only comes when you actually experience it yourself. So you have to at least give yourself a chance. And so obviously, the biggest strategy for getting started is to just try showing up.

That's the first one. And what is showing up means it depends on what it is. Maybe we can look at some examples. But let's say, for example, I need to lose some weight. So showing up could be a couple of different things. I mean, losing weight has a lot to do with calorie intake. Right? And so I need to reduce my calories. So maybe showing up means clearing out my pantry and not actually tempting myself and putting myself in a bad situation. So that could be the start of just showing up. So I haven't even really talked about what am I actually eating yet. But if I'm removing choices that are maybe they're very high calorie and they're not really good for me. If I can remove some of those choices and just by default, I'm eating less already. That's huge. That's a small step. Anybody can do that, right? In fact, you could have somebody else do it for you. Tell my wife, please get rid of that milk chocolate that's in there. Let's replace it with some small dark chocolate scares squares. Maybe that's good for me. I don't know, working out for the first time, I don't want to get in shape. Don't even work out yet. Just get dressed, make a time for it, and say, look at this time. Maybe I'm running. I'm going to put my running shoes on or I'm going to put my workout clothes on. I'm not even going to go to the gym. I'm just going to do that and I'm going to feel what it's like to be ready to work out. That could be showing up. And then maybe your next step is, okay. Now I'm actually going to show up to the gym, or maybe I'm going to go to my home gym and maybe I'll just do something for a couple of minutes. And then sometimes you'll surprise yourself. You'll stay there for ten or 15 minutes. But that's how it works. Don't just go in there and say, okay, I'm going to hammer this thing. I'm going to run a whole mile today. Sure, it's the first time I've ever run, but I'm going to run a whole mile today. That's probably a really bad idea. First of all, you probably hurt yourself. Secondly, think about how big that looks to you as somebody who's never run yet a whole mile that looks impossible. That looks I mean, there's you're thinking yourself, there's no way I'll be able to do that. So of course you avoid doing it. It's too big. So be smart about it. Pick it apart, try to make it as small as you can and be happy with that. Be happy that you did it. You did it for the first time. That's something that's really worth celebrating because you know what? Most people don't even reach that point.

William Willis:
It's challenging to show up, but it's just like when you start some creative project, you take those small steps and you may not see the results right away, but you do it long enough, you will get to that point. Right? So again, you're showing up to reach your goal and you have to just keep doing it without the expectations of quick results and quick turnaround or quick improvement, but kind of trusting the path that you're taking. And in your example, you know, you want to get to this level and you know that this will get you there. And just like trusting that. Yeah. And there are a few things I encourage people to do here. So this whole destination versus the journey thing, people always say enjoy the journey, and what the heck does that mean? In fact, I always wonder what that meant.

What does it mean to enjoy the journey? How can I actually do that? Because the journey sometimes isn't that fun. And I think what that really means. First of all, even though you don't enjoy every second of it, it has to be something you want to do. There has to be a reason for it. It has to be meaningful. So let's first get that established. Sure. That's a bare minimum to actually enjoying the journey, because if you don't enjoy at least the thought of what you're doing or what you're going to accomplish, or if it's not meaningful in some way, then you're not going to be successful. It's just the way it is. That's the way we're wired. The second thing is don't wait until the end of what you think the end is or what you think the destination is to celebrate and to say I've succeeded.

What you should do is I'm going to take this first step. It's kind of small. It looks kind of silly how small it is, but it's an improvement for me and celebrate the heck out of it. That's a big deal. Go out and have some ice cream. You know, I don't know, take a couple of hours off to do whatever you want, treat yourself. You just did something you improved that's enjoying the journey. Right. I'm breaking up that big success into a bunch of little successes, and I'm joining it all the way along the line because every time I improve, it's another dopamine hit. I really enjoyed that. I wanted more. I want more of that. Let's do it again. It's like my daughter used to always tell me when she's playing on me like a jungle gym, let's do it again. Let's do it again. Let's do it again. That's what you want out of your journey. You want to be that kid that keeps saying, let's do it again. Let's do it again. Because I'm having so much fun with us. And yet again, you're not always going to have that much fun. But hopefully I'm making the point is that when you start thinking in terms of smaller steps, smaller these little smaller sorties outside of your comfort zone, it's a lot more fun than trying to take that big, massive Godzilla step. I think from my personal experience, I have not been enjoying the journey. I usually just focus on what I need to do. And if I don't get there, then I get into the negative spiral. But I think stepping back and enjoying the learning that's happening, the growth within and like you said, celebrating the winds, the small winds, whatever it is, that just as important. Yeah. And even looking back into how far you've come from day to day and just see that instead of focusing too far ahead on the goal that you want to achieve, that's where I know I have fallen down a lot in the past, just not appreciating the growth that has happened, but only focusing on the results. Just a few more quick things I want to mention.

So part of having fun too, is doing it with other people. So you never have to do these things alone. So look for some crazy people like you who are doing this thing, trying to learn and go out there and do it together, share your experiences, support each other. It's so much more fun when you're traveling with someone else. It's really boring when you're traveling alone. You have nobody to talk to. It can be kind of monotonous sometimes. So that's a huge thing to think about is, can I find somebody I can do this with? Don't underestimate the power of that. And I would say in terms of the destination. Don't get so tied into the exact image of the destination in your mind. Because an interesting thing happens when you start doing something regularly. It's kind of going back to what I said earlier. You start understanding it the nature of it better. You get a much different idea of what it's all about. Then what you thought it was, you start growing as a person, you're changing as a person. You're becoming something new. And that leads you sometimes to different places. And you need to be open to that. You need to be open to the destination. Maybe looking, you know, maybe instead of a Castle, it's a beautiful log cabin in some ideal setting somewhere. That's your Castle. That's what you're shooting for in the end. It's the same place. It looks a lot different through experience does. So just be open to that and realize that that is usually what happens.

I say often it's the direction that matters more know the direction you're going in. And a big part of the direction is understanding why you're even doing what you're doing. And it doesn't have to be a big why. It could be a simple why. Like, it's just fun. That's why I do it. And then you kind of figure things out along the way. You pick up what you need along the way. Because sometimes at the start you think you know what you need. If I'm sitting here thinking, okay, I'm going to create YouTube videos and I'll become a big star, that's my destination. Well, I learned pretty quickly. Wow, this is a lot more difficult than I thought it was. And all that equipment I bought, I mean, most of that stuff I didn't need. And actually, it turns out I need this instead. And I didn't know I needed to learn this skill.

So I need to go find I need to go involve myself in this. It's all these things that you learn along the way, and that's why you shouldn't worry so much at the beginning. Like, you shouldn't try to over prep yourself because you'll never be fully prepared. Because the only way you can pick up what you need is to actually do the work, because it's been doing the work. That the way Ford clarifies. So you don't actually really see that what you're seeing is something in your mind. That's the path that you're seeing, you can't actually see the path yet because you have to take the first step and then a little bit the way opens up a little more ahead of you with each step that you take. And that's really the way these things work in real life. And you have to keep reminding yourself of this because your mind is going to keep trying to cast illusions of what the path is supposed to look like.

Yeah, I think that's a great way to put it. Take things step by step and your mind will create an ideal destination for you. But as you said, as you take those steps and you're growing and you're learning and you're seeing the world in a new way, maybe that's not even your destination that you want to go in anyways. Maybe it's some other area that is more enticing for you. Yeah. And your mind does that because we need something to shoot for. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's just you have to understand that, hey, I'm shooting really high up there for that thing. Maybe I fall short, but because I shot high, I still got far. And when I thought I was shooting it, I was so far away that I thought it looked like one thing, but it actually looks like another. And that's okay.

You're just changing your mind now what you're shooting for, and then you keep shooting for it. And each step of the way, what you're shooting for tends to change suddenly at first. And then if you were to compare what you originally saw to what you see now, when you've taken many steps, you'll notice just how different it looks now. Oh, and one more thing I wanted to mention. It's very common for people. I'm even beginning something new, honestly, but especially when you've been doing something for a while, you think yourself, Man, I'm going nowhere. I am not getting better. I'm not improving. And that's very natural for human beings to think that way when in fact, if you actually looked back behind you, you would see just how high you've climbed. I think that's a mistake we make is we often look back to beat ourselves up. We don't look back to lift ourselves up, to kind of see how far we've come.

And I encourage people that's probably one of the few good things about looking back or looking down. They always tell you when you're climbing, don't look down. But sometimes you should. Right. Because when you get discouraged and you can't go any further, looking down and looking back shows you how far you've come. And I could actually give you a burst of energy to go forward again because it reminds you. Well, it seems like I haven't gotten anywhere, but, wow, I really have traveled miles. It's amazing. I didn't realize that you got to look back sometimes. You got to enjoy how far you've come. Yeah. There are a lot of challenges as we go for our goals. But if you do it in a well thought out way and careful and understand the challenges that will come, I think that will help us get to those goals and the learning and the growth that happens, that will be even more meaningful. Right. I wanted to talk about the Cocreate community that you've created. Can you share a little bit more about that? Sure. It's a guy named Jake. Howdon that? I ran across on LinkedIn, became good friends last year. And I'd say for the last three months of last year. So kind of around October time frame, we started kind of talking regularly via Zoom, that sort of thing. And we just really hit it off. There are people that you run across where you just connect on a deep level mentally in terms of your ideas and your interests. And we're very different actually comes from a sales background. I hate overt sales.

He comes from a kind of a very creative spiritual background. I come from more of an analytical engineering background, but we have these interesting ways in which we overlap that just somehow work. And so at that point, I was kind of thinking, hey, coaching is my thing. Coaching people on basically how to be better performers, kind of this high performing person type approach to coaching, because I've done that all my life. I do that in sports. But he kind of took me in a much different direction when I wasn't expecting. And that's creativity. And it was like an epiphany, like, wow, I never even thought all along that was really because sometimes you keep digging and you keep finding more, and that's what happened. The deepest I've dug now is down to creativity. And I found, hey, this has really set me on fire. And I realized I was making all these connections in my work. I was seeing patterns in my work, and I was realizing that it all kind of boiled down to this creative spark in us. It was what was lacking in my life. It's what's lacking a lot of people's lives. So, yeah, coaching is a part of this, but actually it's about creativity. That's really what's lighting me on fire. And so we started talking about creativity. Like, what is the nature of it? What is creativity really? How are we at our best creative selves? And we had some just amazing conference. I wish I had recorded some of those. They were amazing. And we kind of came up with this idea of like, you know, we were talking about the active and rest and all that other stuff. We were talking about the importance of community.

A lot of creative people, they think of themselves as I got to go off and work on this myself. And then here it is. And I had realized last year I wouldn't have been able to have this conversation earlier in the year because I hadn't done the work myself as a creative person. But after all that writing and illustrating, I realized how important community was to me and how better a writer and an illustrator I was because of all the engagement with other people that I had and all the ideas they fed me and all the different perspectives I got from them. And so we basically came up with this concept. You know what? That's it. We create better together. And then I started looking back, and we were kind of looking back in history and looking at the Picassos of the world, the DA vigils of the world. I mean, all the greats and all the disciplines. And we were noticing something similar about all of them, and that is that they had this group of people that they kind of hung out with. They weren't always friendly with each other, but they're just contemporaries competing with each other. But they fed off of each other creatively. Some of them learned skills from others.

Some of them competed and really pushed each other to go further and higher. Some of them built on the ideas of others. And we felt that that was one of the main reasons why these people became the geniuses they were. Yeah, they're smart and yeah, even if they work alone, they would have been brilliant, but they were so much better because of these other people. And we know how difficult it is, how difficult it was on our own journeys to do it without people. So we felt, hey, you know what? We don't see this being discussed a whole lot in terms of the act of creating things. And most communities are very specific about well, we have a community for sales or marketing. We have a community for writing. We have a community for this, that or the other, but we don't have one for just straight up creativity and just exploring your creative interests instead of being told to choose your niche to discover it. You don't see communities encouraging that a lot. So we wanted to create a special place where you could do what the grades did right? So instead of being your own, an individual loan genius, you kind of form this what's called a senior, which is a group genius.

So you might have a bunch of smart people, motivated people who have similar interests that you do. You may have diverse backgrounds, but you're creative people. You're interested in creating things and really upping your game creatively. And so we wanted to create a place to encourage that and to encourage people to do those things. And in doing that, we also wanted to help instruct them on what the creative cycle looks like, what the best practices are in terms of taking care of yourself, getting the most out of your creativity, and some more practical things like how to actually work with other people effectively, how to get past all those resistant points, resistance points. So there's a lot of practical aspects to it, but there's also kind of a spiritual side to it as well. You are human being, after all. And there are certain aspects of creativity that most people don't think about that are also important. And so we wanted to basically kind of combine all of that into a community. And we basically want this to be the place for creators to create. We want to turn it into that kind of a place and also some other ideas where I don't want this to be about me and Jake.

I don't want to be like we have the two of us up at the top getting reaping all the rewards. I'm also looking into ways to like, how do we make how do we reward people for their creative efforts and for their contributions to the community? How do we do that effectively? Because I think that's important in any community. You want people when they're actually putting out great work, they're getting a lot of residents out there. How do we lift them up anyway? So co creates a bit of an experiment. We'll see how it goes. There are some other communities out there that are kind of centered on creativity, but there's not nearly as many of those as all these other specific areas that really focus on the disciplines themselves. Sounds exciting. I love the graph that you have on the website Moon Phases that you talked about all day.

William Willis:
The central part of that graph is the Infinity symbol, okay. And we felt that that represented the core of creativity incredibly well, because creativity is an endless cycle. It never stops. You're continuing on that path. And there's this little interesting point in the middle, this overlapping point where there's kind of a beginning and an end. So, you know, one end leads to a new beginning. It just kind of keeps going. And there's some other interesting aspects to we just kept going deeper down that rabbit hole, and we just kept getting more excited the deeper we got and the more insights we got on creativity. And it was explaining a lot of our own journey, of our own journeys through this ourselves. And so we want to share that with other people. Yeah. I think just having others to when you're creating, you need other people to get support from, get ideas, see how they're doing, because you can't know it all. Maybe some people are ahead of you. They're ten steps ahead of you, or maybe some are behind you, so you have that opportunity to, again teach and learn.

I think having a community around you can help you overcome a lot of the challenges that you would face on your own. Yeah. And the most important aspect of this community is for the people who don't who have no idea what they're going to do or what they're supposed to do or what they want to do. There are other people who think they know what they want to do, and they're just stuck. We really want to have all kinds of people in here because the more experienced ones are obviously a big help, the ones who are less experienced or who are further, who aren't as far along in their journey as they are. But when you're getting started, you really need a special kind of support. You need one that tells you, hey, it's okay to explore your interests.

It's okay not to try to lock down on something right now and to immediately monetize it or to do all these other things right. There's a lot of great advice out there, but most people aren't ready for that advice. Most people still need to explore their interests and figure out what they want to do. And you know what? It's never going to fall on one thing ever. You're a human being. You're always going to have diverse interests, and that's fine. So even when you turn something or some combination of your interests into what we would call a niche, that you then try to kind of create products and services in to make a living off of it. And that's great.

You still need to allow for other interests. You still need to allow time for yourself to keep exploring these other interests, because that will benefit whatever you're actually doing here. Because ideas don't know boundaries. They know no boundaries, and they'll float from one discipline to another. And that's how innovation occurs. Somebody who has Blinders on, who just only focuses on one discipline, is going to be much less likely to innovate than somebody who has diverse interests or who interacts with people who have diverse interests and gets those interesting insights and ideas from them and says, wow, wait a minute. I didn't think about it. That would really apply well to this. Oh, my God, bingo.

Find a lot of communities, they're very valuable in this respect, but they're very specific on a discipline and the principles, the tactics, the strategies and skills for those disciplines. But they don't explore creativity itself, because in this community, cocreate you're a student of creativity. You learn about what creativity is as a human being.

You learn how important it is to you as a human being. You learn how to leverage it right to find meaningful things in your life, to do meaningful things, and to eventually make a living from it. And so I guess you can think of cocreating as kind of really one of two things. It's either the beginning for you where we really get you started and really get you rocketing up towards escape velocity, or we are helping you get reoriented because you've kind of gone down the wrong path and we need to get you back on the right path. And part of both of those things is finding the right people to do it with. And I think in Cocreate, you're going to find people who are serious about their creativity. They don't think it's unserious. They do take it very seriously.

And you'll find successful people there. They will prove to you that creativity is a serious thing, that you can actually make a living from it, and you can actually enjoy it. And so that's really what we want to accomplish here. Yeah, that sounds exciting. And that kind of encapsulated what creativity is. You're taking different ideas and coming up with your own unique ways to bring it to life. And the more inputs you have, the more people you have in your community, the better your ideas could be. So it's definitely a good way to make sure that your ideas are strong and they're valid and they'll do it in a kind loving. They're not there just for you, there for themselves, but they know they're like, hey, I know what I want people to help me with, and I know how I want to be treated. And so I'm going to treat you the same way I'm going to treat you with kindness. I'm going to be objective. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything for you. And in helping other people, when you're giving kindness when you're giving knowledge, it's not a one-way street. A lot of people think of giving that way. And like, oh, what am I getting in return? Well, in the world of creativity, you're getting ideas in return. You're getting perspectives, alternate viewpoints, different mental models, and you name it, you're getting all of those things in return. And I would even say you get a lot more in return than you ever give when you interact with other human beings in this way and when you do it from a place of kindness.

If I were to think of the perfect community, those are the kind of people and that's the dynamic I would be looking for as a creator, saying that you're creating something that you can use and that would be ideal for yourself as well. Yeah, that's it. Exactly. I'm trying to create the community with Jake that I want to be in. And if I'm benefiting greatly from it, then it's a pretty good bet other people are going to benefit from it as well. Yeah. And I'll be able to pour my heart into it because I'm creating anyway. Exactly. I need people to create with anyway. So it's a very natural thing for me to do this. It's not something that I'll ever consider a job. Yeah, that's really exciting.

So we're at the point where I've started asking guests for a challenge for the listeners so that we're taking in knowledge. But we want to also give the listeners the opportunity to practice some of these ideas. And I'm really interested to hear what challenge you've come up with for our listeners. Yeah. So my challenge is, first of all, find something you've always wanted to do, but you've never done that you've never gotten started with. And it might take a little work to figure that out. I mean, sometimes it just brainstorming and just putting everything on there. You'd be surprised how many interests you actually have as a human being if you just let it come out. It doesn't have to be big. Could be something. In fact, the smaller is probably good and some small little thing that you've never done before or some little skill that you've always wanted to learn that you've never done before. And then take the first step, figure out what is the first step. What one little step can I take with this? One thing I've always wanted to do and find a way to make that happen.

Do it, and it doesn't matter. Cast aside those thoughts of going to be terrible at this. Or people think I'm a weirdo. Like, hey, maybe you want to take salsa dancing lessons. Like you've always wanted to learn how to dance. What is the first step? Think of something small and achievable and get at it. And I would say while you're doing that, it always helps again, always to do with somebody else. So I know that's a bit of an extra add on top of it, but it might be the thing you need to get you over the top, but just pick anything. I'll give you a few examples for my life. Sure. That I've always wanted to do. I've always wanted to play guitar. I've never done that before, but I love music and I love guitars for some reason. I love the sound of a guitar. I always wanted to do that. I would love to Cook more. For example, I went to Italy recently, and the pasta I actually took a couple of classes while I was there.

And the pasta I made with my own hands was so incredibly good, like no other pasta I've ever had in my life. I haven't done that once since I got back. I would like to find a time to do that maybe once a month to create this nice little Italian meal from scratch. It can literally be anything. I mean, there's an infinite number of things you can think of. And the reason I want people to do this is because that's creativity, because you're thinking of something you've always wanted to do, but you're never given your self permission to do it or you never had time to do it. And there's something magical happens when you do this.

First of all, now you know that you can give yourself permission to do something. You know, you can do something new, and, you know, you can have a lot of fun doing it. And there's just some tremendous satisfaction in creating something. And that's what we're doing. When we're doing something that we haven't done before, we're always creating something. We're creating in some way. And so that's my challenge to people is find that thing that something you've always wanted to do and take the first step. Begin. Yeah, I think that's a great challenge because there are so many things that we can overcome just by taking that first step and approaching it with the right mindset as well that we talked about. Think of it as an experiment instead of win a loss or gain a loss or succeeding or not succeeding, but as an experiment. So it's an opportunity to try some of these things that we talked about. And then, like you said, it will kind of seep into all parts of your life. It will open up opportunities for you in your career, in your life, and because you're building those muscles of trying something new instead of being held back by your thoughts or other reasons.

So I think that's a great challenge to take small steps forward. And it's almost like the infinite possibilities of what you could do, like the world opens up for you may think, oh, I'm only doing this because this is my career and this is what I didn't know. But the world is full of possibilities. I think that's great. Yes. You find out pretty quickly that, hey, you know what? I'm doing this because I chose to do this. And now that I chose to do something else, they don't have to mutually exclusive. But now that I chose to do something else, you realize that even more. And you realize now, hey, you know what? If there are other things I want to do, I can certainly do them. I just have to figure out, okay, what's important in my life. And it doesn't mean I have to give up my job to do it. There are more hours in the day. Right. I can always find time to do these things, but it's just it really starts marinating in your mind a little bit the possibilities. And that's kind of exciting. How can it not be exciting? Yeah. You're giving yourself permission to try something new, something fresh, a new start. And for me, that's really exciting. And I'm going to definitely join in on that challenge as well. Sounds good.

Rizwan Javaid
Yeah. So we're coming towards the end. How can the listeners learn more about you?

William Willis:
Yeah. So I'm probably most active on LinkedIn, so you can look me up on LinkedIn. I'm somewhat less active, but I'm still active on Twitter. I'm actually working on a new website, so maybe I'll put the URL and maybe I think sometime in February the website will be up. It's called TheProlificCreator.com. So that'll be the new website. And I'm actually going to put all of my work on there. I'm going to organize it so that it's more accessible by topic area. And I'll have a lot of encouragement on there about becoming a prolific creator, a lot about creativity, how to get started, how to get past resistance. And so my hope is, like even landing on the landing page, you'll get inspired, you'll feel motivated just from the positive message, from the experiences that I've had. I'm hoping to translate that directly into you, right into your soul. As you land on that page. I'm going to need a daily dose of that. So if there's some way you can send that over every single morning before my day starts, that would be great. Yeah. And if people want that, actually, you know, my newsletter Adventures in life, which is Subsstack. If you sign up for that, then you'll get every weekday morning. This is 08:00 A.m. Eastern time in the States, so that's GMT minus five. I think you'll get that delivered every single day at five days. And again, it's like maybe a two minute read Max, but it's always geared towards challenging you a little bit in a good way and inspiring you and it has the visual aspect as well. So sometimes just looking at the illustration really helps a lot. So that's another way to really benefit from what I do and just have it delivered straight to you. You don't have to do anything. It just shows up.

Rizwan Javaid:
Yeah, I'm already on the list and it does help every morning as I'm going through my email. I see that and it's definitely words of encouragement that we all need to hear. Yeah, we do. As we get busy and have challenges from all over the place, we need to start off the day with some positivity hope and encouragement.

William Willis:
Yeah, that is a very wise thing to do. I definitely encourage people to start the day off with something positive, Even if it's just a positive affirmation in the morning, whatever it is. Yeah, definitely. Cool. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. I had really amazing time Speaking about these things and learned a lot and definitely I'm inspired just to change perspective, Change my mindset and create more and not be afraid of creating. I think even our listeners Will be really excited to apply Some of the topics that you talked about, so I appreciate yeah, again, thanks for having me on. I've really enjoyed our conversation and my parting message to everyone Is that you were born to create. You really were every single person on this planet Was born to create and there's no one like you that never has been and never will be again. Your perspective is unique and therefore your creations are unique and the world really needs them. So I encourage everybody to explore those interests and to create like they were born to.

Rizwan Javaid:
Awesome. Nice. Thank you so much. Thanks for the great message, William. I had a great conversation And I learned a lot and I really loved the challenge as well to find out something new and take action on it, Take even a small step forward and know that you are born to create. Thank you for tuning in again.

This is Rizwan and you're listening to the Low Fidelity podcast.

Till next time, stay strong!

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