Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Looking Back on the Artist Summit: Your Hillary Step : Part 1

So it's been a few weeks since I got home from Provincetown...I had an amazing week being inspired and being a part of a collective of people who want to motivate and inspire others.

No matter how much time passes from that experience, the lessons I learned at the ARTIST Summit are more profound today than they were when I was there and I want to have the opportunity to share them with you.

First of all I'd like to acknowledge Michael DeVellis and James Vincent for continuing to elevate what the ARTIST Summit is and has been. I was at the Artist Summit in 2013 as an educator (not keynote), and although there were other events in the past called the "artist summit" provided to you by The Powder Group, in 2013 the event formed into was the first ARTIST Summit in its full capacity of what it was meant to be. THIS year however, the event got even deeper, and more rich with context, as each presenter though focusing on different topics, had this eery yet divine flow and connection within each other as to what we all intended to get out there. Here was influential industry leaders coming together to speak not on "how tos" or skill techniques, but on the personal experiences in our journeys that got us where we are and has informed who we were meant to be. This is followed by two days of hands-on education with some of these instructors. And all of this was in the magical location of Provincetown Massachusetts, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Let me give you a very brief history of Provincetown and why this place is so special. If you look at Provincetown on a map it is actually the tip of Cape Cod, curving up to a point and facing the wide open ocean towards Europe. In fact some people say it looks like a middle finger as this would be the first place settlers called home after escaping the tyranny of monarchs. (You know me, give me a good F.U. any day, and I'm all about it). Provincetown has such rich and diverse history, known especially for the people who came to find refuge where in other places they were not accepted. For example, many slaves settled in the area after the Civil War. It has since become the leading artist colony in the United States. Artists dating back to the 1800's have come here to paint the amazing light that P town offers. The artist communities that formed went on to generate artistic movements. If you have seen any of the sunrise or sunset pictures I have posted you’ll understand that this place has light like no other, evoking artistic inspiration from deep within. I think it was Aly Haug who turned to me and said the light is like a permanent “perpetua” filter from Instagram. Every time I roll into P-Town down Commercial Street, and look to my left and see the light dancing on the harbor water, my heart wells up with overwhelming gratitude and inspiration for all the art that I have not yet created but have the blessing of every moment to begin. I try never to miss the sunrise while I'm in P-town.

Now getting back to the ARTIST Summit. It's vitally important to understand that just being there in P-Town starts to open your heart to creative possibilities. There is an unspoken spirit that moves you while you receive the information that the ARTIST Summit provides.
So what I love about the context James and Michael set up with each presenter when it comes to delivering at the ARTIST Summit is that they are to give a talk on a subject that has little to do with the techniques they use as a creative professional. They asked us all to speak on the subject matter of vital importance in our industry that we have embodied with the lessons we've acquired throughout our personal journeys. This already takes the context of the three days several levels deeper as it touches something in the heart and soul of every person in the room. In fact, in my experience of talking to others there is usually one or two presenters that have the exact perfect message that one person needs to hear in that moment. It hits them like a ton of bricks and starts to open their heart in ways that they never imagined.

Even though I came to the ARTIST Summit to present the importance of leadership and influence in our industry, I am always a student. The talk or the "experience " that hit me the most was Charlie Wan's Finding your Everest. Charlie Wan is a long time friend that I met through Mari Shten (fellow TPG Pro Member, Evolutioneer, amazing and creative woman and artist).

I met him as the fashion photographer which he would describe to you as “Charlie 2.0”. Charlie went on to describe the accounts of his life in the different phases that he journeyed through to get to the point where he is now. This journey consisted of poignant shifts in his career, changing from what he was really good at and made lots of money with to where his passion and his heart are. He refers to these versions of himself as phases Charlie 1.0, Charlie 2.0, and Charlie 3.0. You compare these phases of his life to the journey one must take if they decide they want to reach the top of Mount Everest. If you look it up it's not as straightforward as you think; In order to acclimate your physical and mental being to survive the high altitudes of the “summit” or top, you must do many trips forward, and many trips back before you can move ahead. But the most perilous part of the journey is the very last trek to the top. It's called the “Hillary Step”, aptly named after Sir Edmund Hillary. He was the first person, along with Tenzing Norgay, to scale it on the way to the summit. This leg of the trip is the most difficult because it is the highest elevation and it takes about 15 breaths to accomplish each step, and the pressure at that elevation is indescribably intense. People have died climbing Hillary Step, and some need to return to base camp several times before they make it to the top. Charlie Wan described the journey to his 3.0 as his Hillary Step.

Charlie’s calling to the passion in his heart is that takes someone from their head to their heart. Interestingly enough, Charlie’s talk at the summit was so rich with info he ran out of time before he could fully tell us about this “3.0” part of his journey. But what's so perfect and even better...two days later, as the sun rose on the breakwater rocks, a group of us gathered and watched the sunrise while we listened to Charlie’s music in silence...which was a perfect soundtrack in every he was composing it in that moment as the colors of the sky changes. As the sun broke the horizon, the music changed, filling our souls with light and breath and possibility. My whole body was buzzing with emotion. As the sun surpassed the horizon, Charlie began to tell us the story of how he transitioned into Charlie 3.0, and how during his Hillary Step, he almost gave up. To think that something that can so profoundly move someone from their soul with no words, and it almost didn't happen...

The thing is, we all have a Hillary Step. Each one of us will experience the most harshest challenges on the path to our dream and our calling, things that will make us question if this is really what we are supposed to do. I myself have had one of the most challenging years of my life. But when I experience these things, I know it's because I am on the precipice of something great, and I just need to travel that Hillary step to get to the summit. I have been hearing how so many people are afraid of losing work due to these APPs that keep popping up, seemingly taking work away from them…that it’s making their career too hard, and they may need to give up and take another job. But this is not a sign to give up! This is a sign to shift, change how you do things, to expand... to push yourself, even though everything around you says you should quit….

Next time I’ll tell you the story Charlie told us on the rocks, and my experience presenting and how it shifted me, and how all of it ties into who you get to be, and things you can do to push yourself through your Hillary Step. How you can take committed action on your career and your dream so that no one can threaten to take your work away….. Until next time folks...

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