As a creative and performing artist, who straddles the lines between creative director, writer, actor, rapper and poet, my work has always centered around certain principles and guidelines that have not only given my art and it’s output a center and focus, but has allowed me to make decisions that are centered around the unique ways I show up in the world.
But I know I am not alone. All across the U.S. and around the globe, there are makers and alchemists alike who are continuously pushing the boundaries within their work, careers, and relationships. As with all things that are not only good but great, there is a level of intention required in order to propel us from point A to point B—it’s our north star. For me, I haven’t necessarily deduced this down to a science, but I have landed on what feels like a formula for how I lead my life that I think is beneficial for all of us.
So, whether you consider yourself a creative or just someone who loves life and wants to experience more from it, here are five Cs that I think can help you reach the levels of success you need, regardless of what success means to you, no matter where you are on your journey.
The spirit of coming together in order to make a body of work is something that not only excites me, it makes me extremely happy. The notion that I do not have to create alone, but can find other individuals who are also journeying to brainstorm, ideate, and find something magical and special out of it all. There is great work that can come out of an individual, but I know my favorite art is art that happens when more than one person throws their thinking in the mix.
The things I love the most have a connective energy to them—meaning the folks who came together to work on something are also connected in some way that feels bigger than the project. Again, a spiritual connection is not necessary. There are works that have been created between individuals who can’t stand each other. But even then, there is something being communicated that allows them to coexist. When the connection is there, it’s as if there’s a secret language being spoken that allows everyone contributing to the work to recognize each individual’s role in the creative process.
This ladders back up to being able to speak to the work and the process in a way that is not only coherent, intentional, and clear, but it is also rooted in your truth. When we feel free enough to communicate how we feel, what we want ,or what we need, the better off everyone is in the process. Being able to say what fires you up and what matters to you can only lead to stronger, better work, and relationships, too.
In order to feel confident and brave enough to do 1 through 3, you need a community. That community can be digital, via social media, at your local workspace or coffee shop. It can be close family or friends and colleagues. What we’re talking about are a group of people with a shared or not-so-shared vision, who want to see something from start to finish. And in-between it all lies a support network of folks who can pour and pull resources together in order to make something happen. And that “something” can be art, love, a new business, a home, friendships… whatever.
At the end of the day, a level of ingenuity is required to make magic. And that creativity drives how we show up in love, in work, in the projects we enjoy the most. Creativity enhances our experience. And that means coloring outside of the margins and thinking outside of the box. How can we be bolder? Bigger? How can we expand our hearts, and by doing so, expand our horizons and expectations? These questions are not as existential as we believe them to be—just by asking them out loud, without the need to find an immediate answer, we are inviting the spirit of creativity into all the rooms we walk into.
I’m a sucker for #3 and #5, but this word has come up for me and so many others so many times over the past year that it felt necessary to include. None of the above five mentioned matter much if compassion is not serving as the nucleus for the work. When compassion inhabits what we do, it creates a resounding ripple effect of love that can be felt by all that engage with what we create. And what we create can be a project, a baby, an opportunity we manifest. Compassion gets to lead us home.
I hope this list helps you as much as it continues to help me navigate the world!
Joél Leon is a father, dreamer and storyteller. Follow him @joelleon.