It’s not about what someone else is doing; it’s about what you must do.
This might sound like a contradiction to what I’m saying about a the future being connected, with the mantra of “I in us”. But such a future will never come to be without each of us taking up our responsibility, the thing each person must do.
We don’t try to dominate everyone around us with our art – “I have these skills and therefore we ought to do it this way.” We’ve left this way of behaving behind. What we say is, “I have these skills so how can I serve you/the team/the community?”
The reason we can offer and gift our art, rather than control people through it, is because we’re no longer blind to where we lead and influence from. We know who we are in relation to our values, to others, the world, and our future Self. This is our integrity.
Neither is it doing what others tell is to do; we know this corrupts our integrity. And, we do know something new and more exciting emerges when people bring what they must do to the party.
Steven Pressfield uses the terms, hierarchical and territorial art.
If you choose hierarchical art, you’ll always be trying to please someone as well as powering up over someone. But territorial art means you know your unique domain and field; there are many qualities* but here are some big ones: you are successful in what you do and it comes with its own feedback, you lose awareness of self and time in the flow of what you are doing, you grow in what you do in proportion to the effort you put in, and it satisfies a need in you (to the extent you could answer Pressfield’s question in the affirmative: “If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?”).
If the world is to be a better place, then we all need to turn up and do what we must do. Reality tells us that because others don’t want to join in, there’ll always be plenty of opportunities to face challenges with creativity.
As I’ve just finished Pressfield’s book, I’ll leave you with a neat comment from him**:
‘Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the
part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it.
Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.’
(*Pressfield names the following (my words): 1) it sustains you; 2) there’s automatic feedback; 3) you can’t partner with others in what you must do; 4) a territory gives back in proportion to the hard work put in; 5) it never gives back unfairly. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi offers a similar but more comprehensive list of qualities in his brilliant book Creativity.
(** I made a comment that it promises to be a great book to read – about overcoming the problems which prevent us from doing our art – after reading 20% of Pressfield’s book. Although I think he mystifies too much stuff about where inspiration come from, at 100%, it’s proven to be a really helpful read.)