Ep. #58 The Sliding Scale of Commitment

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #58 The Sliding Scale of Commitment
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This episode is all about mining one precious resource, COMMITMENT.   The dictionary defines Commitment as “The state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.” That is a very neat and tidy way to explain such a dynamic spectrum of being!  I see commitment as a sliding scale, and I see the WTMM Team dialing up our commitment to racial equity.  Happy first episode of Black History Month!  We are thrilled to be celebrating, now and ALWAYS. 

Quick Links:

Karida’s Griffith’s 3RD Program: https://karida-griffith.mykajabi.com/R3D-enrollmentFEB2021-page

A Brief History of John Baldessari: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU7V4GyEuXA

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you, get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

All right. All right. Welcome everybody. This is words that move me, I’m Dana. I’m stoked about this. Um, it is black history month and I have some big plans for upcoming episodes. I am so excited to be sharing the mic with some of my heroes, uh, several historians and living, breathing history, period. I am jazzed about it. And my goal is to do more than drop names and dates of important people in places and things, and just hope that you remember them. Um, my goal is to really put that history into context, uh, to make it sticky and to engage in meaningful conversations around it. So I am committed. I am committed to education and celebration of black history, and that my friend, is really big and really, really broad. So this week I want to start by talking about commitment period in and of itself. Um, this episode will *blah blah*. This episode will pair really, really nicely with episode 55, uh, where we discussed resolutions and doing daily. So if you haven’t already dug into that, you might start there, um, and bounce on back here, or you might stay here and then bounce on back there either way, bounce around. You’re going to dig. Um, okay, so let’s, let’s talk commitment. 

I did a little Googlage and I found that the online dictionary, I believe it was Miriam Webster says commitment is defined as the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause activity, et cetera. Commitment is defined as the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, et cetera. Now, I like to think of commitment. Um, the state or quality of dedication as being a sliding scale, there are degrees of commitment to a thing. So maybe, maybe zero is like, not at all committed no effort or interest in a cause or activity. This is my ballet slippers still in a bag in my closet, but actually then again,  that again. Now that I say that out loud, I do have ballet slippers in a bag in my closet. So maybe I would give that like a 0.001 on the commitment scale. It is, it is like the essence of commitment. Like maybe it rubbed elbows with commitment, but it isn’t actually commitment. It is the intent of being committed, but not committed itself. Um, anyways, on, on that sliding scale, zero is, you know, zero action, zero effort, and 10 is absolutely possessed, all in, interested, invested and activated, taking massive action toward a cause or activity. In this metric of measurement, Um, I would place Beyonce, Superbowl halftime show performance from 2013 at an 11. Um, by the way, I’m not a football fan, but I did recently watch all of the recorded Superbowl halftime shows in history that are on the internet. Um, I learned so, so, so much by the way, lessons from super bowl halftime shows coming very soon. Um, speaking of which Abel, AKA the weekend have a freaking ball this weekend. Oh, no pun, intended. Um, Oh, also I hear that Amanda Gorman will be the first poet ever to perform the Superbowl. Come on for progress! That’s amazing. I am so thrilled by that. I’m really excited. Okay. Back to commitment, focusing on commitment.

I have, um, I’ve talked before on the podcast about John Baldessari, one of my favorite artists, and there’s a video online, a YouTube video called a brief history of John Baldessari. Um, yeah, you can find it on YouTube. It’s simply one of my favorite things on the internet. It will be in the show notes, but one of my favorite parts of that, uh, of that short film is where John Baldessari tells us three things. He believes every young artist should know. Number one, talent is cheap. Number two, you have to be possessed, which you can not will. And number three, be in the right place at the right time. Now I don’t typically like to argue with geniuses. Um, but I do want to talk about that second point. You have to be possessed, which you can not will. I think that I agree you cannot will being possessed. You either are possessed or you aren’t, but I do think you can, will excitement. And I certainly think you can, will commitment to me. I being possessed by something, it means to be taken over by it, like inhabited by it, against your will even, um, but like somehow out of control. And to be honest, I don’t love the idea of being out of control. I can handle the idea of being the vessel or the conduit, but I’m not thrilled about the idea of being out of control or under something else’s control. So to be totally honest, I don’t think that I am possessed by dance. I think I really, really love it, but there are fully days on end where I do not boogie and I don’t make that mean that I don’t love dance. So do you have to be possessed to make brilliant, not boring art? Maybe. Will you get to a John Baldessari or Beyonce level of impact without being possessed? Maybe not. But do you have to be possessed to make it in the dance industry? No. I think that that is actually a common misconception that can scare a lot of up and comers. Um, this idea that you have to be possessed or obsessed in order to make it. I, I hear that a lot. I hear like “I really, really love dance, but I also kind of love writing and I’m really digging standup and Oh, I love fashion. Maybe someday I’ll have my own clothing line, but man, I probably won’t make it as a dancer if I can’t just focus on dance, right? Like, should I even try?” Um, now I, I don’t like giving definitive yeses or nos to questions like that, but I will say that I know a lot of industry heavy hitters that do not eat, sleep, breathe, sweat, dance, they have other interests. They may love photography or fashion or film or cooking or simply eating and drinking as much as they actually love dancing. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t committed to dance. In other words, if commitment is like a dimmer switch and we have this sliding scale where possessed is the maximum, then I would say yes, more light makes more things visible, more light makes more things possible. Like try finding your keys with the lights off and then try finding your keys with the lights on brighter is righter, but to make it and more importantly to make change, I do not think you have to be possessed.  I think you have to be committed. You have to be willing to try again. You have to be willing to get it wrong. You have to probably be willing to get it wrong more than once before you get it right. And here is why that matters. In last week’s episode, Galen Hooks talked about her volunteer work with dancers Alliance and SAG-AFTRA, um, we worked side by side in several grassroots efforts, so I can definitely attest to this. That work can be exhausting. It can be unrewarding at times, and it can be very hard to stay committed, let alone possessed yet in order to make lasting change, you must be committed or, you know, possessed, It helps. now even outside of volunteer efforts, commitment really does matter a lot in the world at large, but in a creative life, especially. And here is why, because creative work is not time driven. It is idea-driven, you know, the quality or quantity of your output is not determined by the number of on the clock hours. There will always be days where you go into the studio and workshop for hours and not one solid phrase or eight count comes out. Or I suppose I should say there will be days where you don’t like one solid phrase or eight counts that comes out. Um, and on those days, your brain will probably offer that you quit or that you beat yourself up for your lack of productivity. You’ll need to decide on the thoughts that will keep you going. These thoughts are your fuel. And for the rest of this episode, I’m going to offer a series of questions to help you reveal those thoughts to help you mine that precious resource, commitment. Okay. 

The first question is this, what is your desired result?  Let’s put emphasis on what is your desired result. Now all of these questions are designed to help you and your commitment. So focus on your desired results, the things that are in your control, um, to demonstrate the difference between your desired results and general desired results. I will use this example, “The desired result that I have for the world is equal rights and equal justice for all.” Now there are a lot of people involved in the world. And even if I actually was able to change policies as an individual, I cannot change the way that other people think and feel and act. So my desired result is “to be an example of commitment to racial equity.” For example, the next question I would ask myself is why, “why do you want this result?” And this is important. This is what you’ll come back to when you want to quit. My why is this, “Because not only do I want to live in a world of equal rights and equal justice for all, but I want to be able to teach and encourage others who are interested in that world to do the same.”  My next question,  What will it cost to achieve that? What will it cost me to become an example of commitment to racial equity? I’m going to get very real with you now. And I think the next several weeks will be a testament to this. It might cost me some comfort. It might cost me some relationships. It might cost me a couple follows perhaps because I’ll be talking about things that I think are important and maybe other people don’t think those things are important. I’ll likely have some uncomfortable conversations, I’ll likely learn some hard lessons in facing truths about myself and my world. It’ll cost me time in research, reading and volunteering. Um, let’s see what else. Um, it might cost me convenience, for example. If I’m to begin shopping at a black owned bookstore, instead of buying my books on Amazon, I might have to wait until they have the book in stock, I might not get that free two day shipping. So this might also cost me money in those kinds of convenience fees, but also on a bit of a larger scale. Sometimes being an example of commitment to racial equity might look like passing on and passing along a paid opportunity to someone else. All right. I think that’s, that’s, that’s a pretty complete, although not exhaustive list of what it might cost me to achieve my goal of becoming an example of commitment to racial equity. Now the next question, after I’ve asked myself what it will cost to achieve it, I get to ask “what will it cost if I don’t commit or follow through, what will it cost if I do not achieve it.” 

This was a tough one for me. I do not commit if I, if I do not try and try again, if I do not follow through all become another person who’s talking and not doing, I’ll become a person that I do not want to be. And that is a price that I do not want to pay.  

The next question is “what must I believe to achieve this?” I have to believe that I’m responsible for my part, that small efforts add up to big changes. That big changes can happen, um, that I have to do it perfectly the first time or every time, but I do have to do it over and over and over again. Those are some of the beliefs that will help me achieve my goal. 

My next question is “how does it feel to believe those things?” When I believe that I’m responsible for my part, when I believe that small efforts add up to big change and that big change is possible, that a poet will be performing at the super bowl. When I believe that I don’t have to do it perfectly the first time, and then I get to do it over and over and over again. I feel empowered. 

My next question is an important one. “What do you have to stop believing in order to achieve this desired result?” For me, in my specific instance, I need to stop believing that I’m already doing enough. I need to stop believing that the ball is now in someone else’s court. I need to stop believing that things are never going to change. I need to stop believing that my degree of comfort is more important than growth. I simply need to stop believing those things. All right, let’s see, three, four, five, seven, Seven simple questions. And I have revealed so much. Answering these questions has given me awareness in knowing what I want, why I want it, what I’m willing to pay for it. But really this is just the beginning of the game plan. I know what I’ll think. And I know what I will stop thinking, and I know how I’ll need to feel to get it done. Now, my example is, is very much about a commitment to a way of life, but these questions can help guide you in your commitments, in the context of relationships, creative projects, and yes, absolutely. In doing daily. So what is your desired result? Why do you want it? What will it cost you to have it? What will it cost you to not commit? What do you have to believe to achieve it? How does it feel when you believe those things and what do you have to stop believing to achieve those things? Now you have the awareness and the plan you have mind the fuel. Now put it in the tank, think, feel, and go out there and make change. Speaking of change, I see daily doers. I have so many new #doingdailyWTMM hashtags, actually by the time this episode is released, we’ll probably be well over 3000 #doingdailyWTMM So if you are a, a new daily doer, make sure you’re using that hashtag so that I can see all your daily, daily doings. Also, I see so many of you daily doers using the words that move me daily, creative prompt calendar. I am jazzed about that. Good on you. Um, such a fun resource. You do not need to overstrain your brain to decide what you will do today. Simply take a glance at the words that move me daily, creative prompt calendar, and a letter rip. If you’re interested, those daily creative prompts calendars are available @ thedanawilson.com/shop and also by becoming a member of the Words that Move me Community, which I am thrilled about. Uh, shout out to all my WTMMCOMM listeners out there. If you are not a member yet, don’t stress out. You can join at literally any time, just visit theDanawilson.com and click the membership tab. Boom. There you go. Okay, everyone, that is my lesson on commitment. That is me inviting you to join me and the words that move me community in our doing daily to make lifelong changes. And that brings me to my win.

I am so excited to share my win with you today. It is extremely important, and I think that my win can be your win. Um, I just had the pleasure of sitting in on an hour and a half seminar with the fabulous Karida’s Griffith.  She is a phenomenal dancer. If you don’t already know, I do encourage you to go do a little digging on, on Karida, but she is also an educator, a fabulous educator. And right now she is offering a six week professional development program for dance educators. So for all my dance teachers out there, and I do recommend this for, for dancers as well, period. Um, the program is called roots, rhythm, race, and dance. She calls it R three D and it is basically, um, a workshop in teaching age appropriate fact-based lessons about race and dance history. And I could not be more excited about this. I’m thrilled to get started. Um, you have until February 7th to register, I will absolutely be linking to Karida’s website and the enroll page in our show notes. For this episode, I cannot express in the actual words, how enthusiastic I am about Corita’s work and how excited I am, um, to have enrolled in this program, period. I’m so jazzed about it. That is what I’m celebrating. Um, I hope that you get to go check it out and if it looks like a good fit for you, I will see you there. Uh, all right, now you go, what Is going well in your world?  

Congratulations. I am thrilled for you. I am thrilled for you. I am thrilled to get your feedback on this episode, and I’m so excited to be sharing the mic in my next several episodes. Um, you really don’t want to miss a beat, please subscribe and download these episodes. They like you’ll want to have them in your pocket. I’m just saying that’s, that’s me celebrating a future win. By the way. That’s what that sounds like is me proclaiming the win, the success of these future episodes. So, so, so excited. Um, all right, everybody. I think that is it for me today. I am going to go dance. You go do whatever it is that you are doing and just make sure you are keeping it funky. Well, yeah, I’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye 

Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time, almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me to number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit theDanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.