FEAR IS THE MIND-KILLER. FEAR IS THE LITTLE-DEATH THAT BRINGS TOTAL OBLITERATION. I WILL FACE MY FEAR. I WILL PERMIT IT TO PASS OVER ME AND THROUGH ME. AND WHEN IT HAS GONE PAST I WILL TURN THE INNER EYE TO ITS PATH. WHERE THE FEAR HAS GONE THERE WILL BE NOTHING. ONLY I WILL REMAIN. The hard part Exchanging our pain Every time I invite people to apply to a seminar or offer an internship, I’m surprised to discover that many of the applicants have no hard skills to brag about. They’re happy to check off boxes like, “business development,” and “making a ruckus,” but they rarely say that they know how to design code, or to use CSS or even InDesign. They’ve spent so many years following instructions, fitting in and getting good grades that they failed to learn to do anything independent. The pain of not reaching our potential, the pain of being overlooked, the pain of not being heard. The side effect of a lack of hard skills is that these very same people almost never have much to show for themselves in the way of a project portfolio, online or off. They can’t point to something and say, “I made that.” More people make a living from non-manual labor today than ever before. Sometimes, though, we forget that the only to successfully move forward is to do emotional labor, to put in the effort and emotion to make something that matters and something that might not work. Today, we have the chance to do work that’s far more pleasant and involves far more freedom. And the only one stopping us from this work - is us. The pain of being a cog, of not fitting in enough, never enough. The pain of having to measure up in a world that keeps telling us that we don’t. So many live with that pain because the alternative is hard to consider. The alternative is to experience the pain of being free. The pain of saying, “here, I made this.”. The pain of living with the opportunity to make a difference. There’s no pain-free path. But at least you can do something that matters. Yertle In New York, it’s the top of the real estate market that keeps booming. Specifically, penthouses, the very top floor, with the high ceilings and the great views. I watched as a building was going up the other day, and wasn’t surprised to see that the top floor was significantly taller than the floors below. Penthouses have bigger windows too. Here’s the thing: When you’re in the penthouse, enjoying the windows and the view and the high ceilings, you have no idea whether there’s an apartment above yours. In fact, it probably shouldn’t matter, should it? But it does. Like Yertle the Turtle, who not only needed to be high up but also needed to be on top of everyone, the penthouse dweller is paying for supremacy, for being the unqualified winner on top. The need to be recognized as the winner destroys your ability to take your turn, because taking your turn requires you to be willing to not win. My argument is the only long-term way to make it as an artist is to do it from a position of generosity, of seeking to connect and change people for the better. But generosity, while it sometimes leads to it-feels-like-winning can never be based on winning, because winning requires other people lose. Yertle-style.