Doing it with Joy and Confidence

There are very few people out there, especially on the big stage, who carry as much confidence and joy in what they do as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” — Ansel Adams, Photographer


“All real works of art look as though they were done in joy.” — Robert Henri, Artist


Most people think of joy and confidence as states we feel AFTER we’ve met expectations. Unfortunately, not feeling joy and confidence BEFORE any outcome, diminishes both the meaning behind our actions and the odds of success. In other words, without joy, we forget to live presently and without confidence we’ll never fully commit ourselves to the attainment of our goals.


Will to Create —> Decisive Action —> Results —> Confidence —> Will to Create

When we think of the cycle of creation, it’s like the question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg?  In reality, it doesn’t matter, because we know that when one is present, the other is not far behind. Confidence creates success and success builds confidence.

But, since life is full of surprises, including at times being completely unfair, irrational and unpredictable, success sometimes doesn’t show up and certainly not on time. Is it any wonder that our commitment to remain disciplined is constantly challenged?

Goals + Hard Work (+ Lag time) => Positive Results

As prolific a painter Lucien Freud was, his success was far from being an overnight one. He was painting in relative obscurity until his mid 50’s and 60’s, when his daring turn on realism was fully developed and finally recognized.

Most people are impatient (myself included). We forget about lag time. Most of us give up just before things start to turn. As they say: “the night is darkest just before the dawn.” Things always look hopeless and futile when the effort required counts the most.

“The last 3 or 4 reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain is what divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger

And, since results rarely look like what we expect them to, most of us never develop the confidence to continue or find the joy we so much desire. The universe not only makes you work for it, it makes you really wait for it.

The key to countering this difficulty is altering our narrative in terms of what brings joy and how confidence relates to our actions.

Importance of FAITH: (CONFIDENCE)

“If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” — Marcus Garvey, Writer


We may develop our skills, build good strategies, and strengthen our resolve, but none of this will matter if faith is absent. Self-doubt is the number one killer of all positive action. Besides indifference, the lack of belief in oneself, is the most assured way of failing before getting started.

Each day I need to re-affirm my own confidence in myself so that I can get going, so I don’t sit there and frizzle away the day just going thru the motions. Lack of focused physical and mental activity defeats the state of being truly human. And both our emotions and our art reflect that. Attentiveness requires anticipation. We must have faith in the process in order to fully engage in it.

Joan Mitchell’s abstract art is a reflection of her physicality (she was a nationally competitive figure skater), her emotions, and her love of nature. She’s one of the most successful female painters in modern art history.

“All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail.” — Dorothea Brande, Writer

Because we can’t afford to wait for results to confirm our hypotheses, we must proceed “as if” all will turn out. That way, we work with the right mindset and in the proper spirit regardless of what obstacles turn up. Remember; slow is good. Lag time opens the opportunity to build emotional strength.

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” — Leo Tolstoy, Writer


Importance of  REWARDS: (JOY)

This blog has preached the spirit of focusing on the process since its inception. The idea has always been that to be able to have meaning in our work, we must enjoy it.

“Success is a pleasure.” — Jim Rohn, Motivational Speaker

It’s extremely important to be rewarding ourselves for good work, for taking risks, for taking action, and for standing by our principles. It’s necessary to value ourselves, and made to feel valued. It’s good to pat ourselves on the back once in a while.

Of course, we need to earn those rewards. We’ve got to put in the time. Without massive devoted action, nothing will result. This simply because if success arrives without effort, it’s unfulfilling and empty. It certainly won’t inspire. I have friends who are only now getting recognized for their art — Annie Awards, Oscar nominations, and literary accolades. They’re being rewarded for their persistence and devotion to their craft —  a lifetime of hidden labors. They inspire me and others because we’re fully aware of their commitment and patience. What looks like luck is birthed from diligence.

Bruce Lee was the definition of will power and discipline. But he also enjoyed every moment that he spent working on his craft.

But what matters is not being recognized publicly, but the commitment that brings the joy. That diligence alone becomes the reward, knowing day in and day out that we live up to our expectations, stay true to our principles, and that we’ve focused our minds and bodies, shared with others and did some actual good. We expressed ourselves and gave back. Anyone who’s worked a hard and honest day or has taken any kind of step to help anyone, knows the feeling of deep fulfillment. True value — in fact I would say ALL VALUE — is created in such fashion. That’s real happiness. It’s not dependent on results. The confirmation is in the commitment to our craft, whatever that may be.

“I always did everything with a smile on my face.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger

CAVEAT: Countering the Negative Forces

Now, if our situation feels bad or untenable, know that it’s not necessarily our fault — a bad upbringing, unforeseen misfortune, poor guidance and exploitative management have much to do with our state of mind in today’s economy. With technology and communication so omnipresent, we’re constantly exposed to dangerous influences, from cyberbullies to Negative Nancies that prance the workplace. So stay away from that, for they can be miserably contagious. From what I’ve witnessed, naysayers who do little more than judge, criticize and put others down are usually insecure and hugely lacking in any real knowledge or talent regardless of their position. Steer far away from that kind of interference and learn to manage the disappointment.

“Negativity is the enemy of creativity.” — David Lynch, Filmmaker

That said, we can’t go on justifying our failures and blaming external circumstances. Because then we’d be placing the responsibility of our lives outside of our control. There will always be doubters out there. Just don’t let yourself become one of them. We need to look within and be solutions oriented, focused on the future while enjoying the moment. That, and surrounding ourselves with people who love and believe in us. Life is too short for the alternative.

In summary, remember this: Make sure Joy and Confidence come FIRST and let the Results come AFTER. Work daily to add trust and create confidence. Help in creating a more trusting, innovative and connected society. Take action towards the empowering and joyful.

“When you love something — like reading or drawing or music or nature — it surrounds you with a sense of connection to something great.” — Anne Lamott, Writer

Simon Sinek’s vision and actions in today’s society is a much needed revolution in the way we operate at home and in the workplace. (Just ignore the unfortunate title of the video!)