Finding a Muse when the Anger Subsides

I’ve always been astounded how during certain phases of my life I’ve felt a bit like a magnet for exactly what I need. Whether it is people coming into my life exactly when I need them most, or a song, or some other piece of inspiration that reminds me of what I’m seeking. I am sure it has more to do with the fact that I’m specifically looking for these things, whether I want to admit it or not. These flickers of hope and inspiration typically show up when I’m feeling rudderless.

The irony of this, is it seems like I’ve done some of my best work during these periods as well. Inspiration seems to be a bit like the Phoenix rising from the ashes of failure. Hugh McLeod spoke of this today over at GapingVoid.com. The idea of failure being his muse is something that rings a bell with me. Lately, this rudderless feeling has come from the fact that I’ve been lacking a motivating force in my life.

For the longest time, anger felt like my muse. It was the energy I channelled into things like my running, or whatever it was that felt like my passion at the time. Anger seemed to give me focus. But as I get older, the anger has ebbed away. Which is a good thing. But it has also left me feeling a bit empty. 25+ years of having anger be something that drives and motivates you is exhausting.

If you have never had anger as your copilot, it may be difficult for you understand how much of a driving force it can be in your life. It has a nuclear capacity as a fuel for motivation. It also has the same nuclear capacity for destruction. It all comes down to how you harness and channel that energy. Anger also has an amazing ability to drive and motivate as much as it can leave you cornered and alone.

So, what happens when the anger subsides and the fuel that used to push you to do great things, both good and bad, is gone? I think Hugh might have provided me with a bit of guidance today to figuring out what my muse is.

“Doing everything right” meant only dea­ling with known quan­ti­ties, known out­co­mes, the oppor­tu­ni­ties of the unk­nown were never embraced. – Hugh McLeod

That quote is pretty much exactly why I started this blog. I needed something to get me out of my comfort level. The idea of putting myself out there to the public (all 3 of you) in the form of this blog is doing exactly that. Everything “right” about this blog was telling me not to do it. Telling the world, especially my business world, that I have ADHD felt wrong. Admitting to colleagues and clients that you have ADHD goes against the grain of common sense. But the result is that starting this blog and digging deeper into this whole ADHD thing is about as “right” as it gets.

There was a great analogy on Fred Wilson’s blog a week or so back.  It was a guest post by Jerry Colonna (who is also a Gaping Void fan) about management and how people start a company and they’re typically horrible managers. Well, he didn’t use “horrible” but it is the word that popped into my head when I read it. While the post was about management, I think it metaphorically applies to life as well. The idea that when life turns up the heat, we typically emerge stronger. Jerry’s metaphor is that life tends to put us into a crucible. A place where the heat gets turned up and we have to make a decision. The crucible is the place where we face our faults, fears, and failings and use them to forge something stronger.

So, is failure a muse? Maybe. It is definitely something that stokes the fire for the crucible that forges a better, stronger steel for life. The one thing I am convinced of, is that everywhere I look – the deeper I dive into my head on this blog – the more I realize that I’m not alone in these thoughts and feelings.

 

 

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  • Sara

    Wow. I just stumbled upon your blog from your piece on Core77. I have a degree in Architecture and have always felt more comfortable in the design/visual world. I’ve recently been trying to understand myself more and my sporadic brain.
    Reading this blog posting has completely hit the nail on the head. This working under pressure, emerging from the ashes is how I’ve lived my life. I’ve just always put it all under the umbrella of procrastination, but after reading this I can see that is too generic. Talking about producing work with anger goes back to when I was younger. Something that I’d never thought related to what I call procrastination. I’ve always been a messy disorganized person. As a kid and even growing up, my room or home has always been at its cleanist state when I’ve been dealing with anger. That anger does soemeting. It pushes me to this other state where I have to do something with everything. I feel the need to solve whatever problem or put everything back in its place.