February 28, 2022

Claim the right to be the prime influencer of your own satisfaction


The vast majority of people define themselves and their worthiness according to the material world and its narrow standards.

They’re so impressionable that their sense of self hangs on the hooks of popular opinion, public approval and professional prestige.

Their esteem is like the stock market, rising and falling in lockstep with the latest success or failure. And challenge is, when they encounter someone who is the opposite, someone whose sense of self hingers upon their own relationship to the universe at large, they don’t understand it. Don’t trust it. They might even lash out at it.

How can you just ignore what the world thinks? Who the hell are you to shine so brightly? What gives you the right to be the prime influencer of your own satisfaction?

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of that criticism, you know discouraging and hurtful it feels.

Bell, my favorite megachurch pastor turned bestselling author and surfer dude, epitomizes this strong internal locus of control. He made a name for himself in the church world as somewhat of a filmmaker. Rob launched a series of short movies promoting spiritual reflections on individual life experiences.

They’re mesmerizing works for art. These dramatic vignettes were passed around to various congregations in the early two thousands, used during worship and teaching. They essentially went viral before viral was viral. Even with people like myself who didn’t grow up religious.

But here’s the really inspiring part of this man’s story. According to his unauthorized biography, the first video distributor whom the pastor approached about the project scoffed at the idea that it would sell:

You can’t just invent a new genre, they gasped.

But that is precisely what he did. And today much of what is seen as hip church media is a direct spinoff of his work. Bell continues to use state of the art media to communicate his sermons in clever forms, and he does so because of his internal locus of control.

As an artist, he’s not interested in fitting into any particular definable category. He knows who he is and what he believes and how he wants to communicate both. His of work is built to his own specifications, and he’s been able to impact people around the world, regardless of popular opinion and public approval.

This approach to creating is objectively inspiring, even if you’re not a spiritual person.

In fact, part of our job as creators is procuring inspiration from any and all contexts, irrespective of its contents.

How well do you do that?

If you’re grasping for inspiration in your work right now, let me recommend a personal creativity management tool called perceptual democracy.

Think of it as a filter. You treat everything you encounter with fundamental affirmation and radical acceptance. Knowing that your next great idea could come from anywhere.

Forget about agreeing with or even liking what you see. Even if a book, movie, performance or piece of art isn’t your thing, you can still gain energy from it.

From the architecture behind it. This perceptual democracy will deepen your intellectual flexibility and expand your imaginative reservoir.

And prolific work will follow suit.

Whose approval are you still waiting for?