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For the Love of the Work

Home » Insights on Work » For the Love of the Work – Passion & Longevity In the Face of Adversity

Stephan Boeker

November 2020

Let’s be honest: some days can just suck.

A client (or your boss) brings word that is counter to the direction you were headed or external circumstances send you and your colleagues into a tizzy. That’s certainly more often been the case during the pandemic, no doubt, especially in places like Hawaii where the choice has been made to err on the side of public safety at the expense of the economy (no, I won’t be talking about the merits of either here).

What sustains you when all around you seems to be burning?

Photo: Napa Valley Register

The wildfires in Napa Valley and throughout the west coast have devastating and far-reaching consequences to lives far away from the actual fires. While I have not suffered the heart-wrenching consequences the people there have, the fires have still affected me all the way out here in Hawaii. 

My frustrations yesterday had nothing to do with the pandemic for once. No. Firstly, I received word that a creative directing job was cancelled because of the fires in Napa Valley. Not only did the images of burned-down vineyards and historical buildings sadden me, but the continued assault on my own business sparked my existential fears. Those aren’t actual flames risking life and limb, but the business sure is under siege through all the economic and political instability in Hawaii and the world. 

On another front, a production window set for next week was abruptly shifted, because of new disqualifying considerations that came to light on the front-running story we developed. Logistics had been worked-on, the production team assembled, and Hawaii quarantine restrictions overcome. All for naught. 

And on yet another front: I had torn my MCL in a windsurfing wipe-out. 

Photo: Jimmy Hepp | When things don’t go your way and you crash and burn, what sustains you? Here I wipe out and end up tearing my MCL.

It was a rough day. I felt it spiraling and my psychological state marinated in high beta brainwave state, which means a sort of confused monkey-mind was throwing me for a loop.

There is only one thing that can set me straight when I spiral out of control like that. 

And just like that, through no effort on my part other than my commitment to let go, my morning meditation yielded the following realization: 

The artist’s longevity and indeed his lasting impact is determined by the love of the work itself. If his motivation is anything other than the love of work itself, anything other than the feeling the act itself evokes, if the act of the daily, hourly and momentary struggles are performed as a means to a different end — whether for fame, external validation, monetary or material riches, etc… — the artist will be continuously disappointed and eventually lose the stamina for the execution of craft.  

The focus into the moment with all its influences — the setting, the daily rituals, the doubts, the fears, the client inputs, the externally imposed circumstances, the peaks and valleys of the act of creating something out of seemingly thin air — is a deep love affair, an exploration into worlds unknown together, a potential not yet realized.

When other businesses who are aligned with our values connect with us and we resonate with one another, we begin to explore potentials not yet realized. The love of the work itself will summon the necessary effort, power, resources, knowledge, and skillset. The how’s and the what’s will follow without fail. The thing brought back from that place will reveal itself and prove great worth to client, audience and creator. 

I love the grind of sitting down, understanding a business’ challenge, opportunity, goal, or purpose, mining to understand the target audience, the target affect and the target action, and then setting out to develop a transformative, emotionally wrapped story that — when applied well — can really move the needle for a brand or business.

When all seems to be conspiring against me and the day is awash with frustration, it is this creative endeavor that fills me with passion and  life-force. The act itself is the thing. 

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