Choose Must: 10 Hands-On Exercises to Find and Pursue Your Passion | Elle Luna | Skillshare

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Choose Must: 10 Hands-On Exercises to Find and Pursue Your Passion

teacher avatar Elle Luna, Artist, Designer & Author

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction: Uncovering your Must


    • 2.

      Project: Create an Artifact Representing Your Path to Must


    • 3.

      Exercise 1: The Really Cool Shit Folder


    • 4.

      Exercise 2: The Stack of Notecards


    • 5.

      Exercise 3: Call Your Mom


    • 6.

      Exercise 4: The Treasure Hunt


    • 7.

      Exercise 1: Pin Up Your Cards


    • 8.

      Exercise 2: Cluster Your Cards


    • 9.

      Exercise 3: Look For Patterns


    • 10.

      Exercise 4: The 50,000 ft. View


    • 11.

      Exercise 5: Rank


    • 12.

      Exercise 6: Your North Star


    • 13.

      How This Process is Manifesting in My Life


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About This Class

Must is your calling. It's what you feel deeply convicted to do. In order to follow your Must, you have to show up and take a few steps to get there — and that's what this class is all about.

Join Elle Luna, artist, designer, and author of The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion for a tactical and inspiring exploration into identifying and following your Must. Elle walks you through a series of 10-minute, self-exploration exercises and tactical practices that will help you connect the dots and surface insights for your journey to Must. This hour-long class is perfect for anyone on a path of self discovery, everyone searching for a practical, enlightening approach to finding and pursuing their calling.

You’ll come away from this class armed with a set of practices to bring into your own creative process and your own inspiration ritual. You are encouraged to revisit and revise these exercises at many points along your personal journey. This class will help you gain entry points for pursuing your personal "Must" — and leave you renewed to begin again.

Meet Your Teacher

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Elle Luna

Artist, Designer & Author


Elle Luna paints, designs, and writes. She also runs a textile venture, the Bulan Project, a collaboration between designers and master batik artists in Bali, and has previously worked as a designer at IDEO and with startups including Mailbox, Medium, and Uber. She speaks to groups around the world, sharing the story of "The Crossroads of Should and Must," and lives in San Francisco and online at

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1. Introduction: Uncovering your Must: Hi, I'm Elle, and this is my Skillshare class, welcome. The class is called Choose must, and we are going to be creating an artifact that represents your path to must. Should, on one hand, is how other people want us to show up in the world. What we should or shouldn't do, it's all the expectations that others layer upon us. Must is what we feel called to do, deeply convicted to do. It's our passions,. It's our desires. It's our urges. It is our deepest held beliefs. If you just begin looking, the clues are everywhere, all around you. It's like a room with tons of doors, and every single door we'll get you there. Whether I had grabbed a reading list or maybe had a conversation on a bus, the reason that it all gets me there is because the must inspiration is there no matter what. I am attuned to trying to grab it, to trying to find it, and they will all take me in, but it requires that I show up, and it requires that I do one thing. It requires that I hang up the cards on the wall, that I organize it, that I call my mom. It requires all these steps. Now, I too, have my own artifact. Maybe, I don't exactly know what's going to happen in the next 10 years of my practice, but I know that that's the type of commitment that I need in order to keep going. The project is going to unfold in two phases. The first phase, let's call it play, and the second phase we're going to call it focus. At the beginning of a project, we start with an idea, and we begin to diverge. So let's say this is our hypothesis, this is where we're going to begin. We begin to diverge into all of these different possibilities, this is where we encourage wild ideas, this is where we talk about quantity over quality, this is really about going broad and looking at all of the different possibilities for your project. So, I like to call this play, because play is fun, play is sort of irreverent, and when you get into play something begins to happen where the possibilities begin to expand. Within this first phase, which we're calling play, we're going have four different activities that you can do to create a very large subset of possibilities within your journey to must. This part of the phase, we begin to eliminate, we begin to combine, and we begin to focus our efforts. So that's why we're calling the second phase here focus. Ultimately, we will land at this final artifact, which we've talked about being a journey towards your path to must. Now, the great thing is about these two phases, there's four exercises here, all of which you will be able to do with the tools that you have around you, everyday, right now. These aren't extravagant things, I will walk through what you'll need for each of the phases, but you're going to be able to do these very quickly, and it's surprising how little clues about muster already all around you. I think, that's one of the incredible things about this journey is that you're already on it, and the class is really about just surfacing those insights. Now, for the second half of the class, when we get into focus, they're going to be six different steps. I'm calling these steps because we're basically going to have already harvested all of that content, and it's really going to be about whittling, and refining it to get down to our final artifact. Let's begin. 2. Project: Create an Artifact Representing Your Path to Must: Project, you are going to have an artifact. I have some hunches about what that might look like, and I'll give you some clues along the way. Of course, it's always open to interpretation a little bit, but I would love it if at the end of the project, you would upload your artifact into the project gallery. The reason this is so important is because it's incredibly inspiring to see other people's work. It's incredibly inspiring to see other people asking really similar questions as you are. When we share our work, we allow ourselves to connect to other folks who are asking similar questions, who are on this journey alongside of us, and that's one of the most incredible parts about it all. Nobody takes this journey alone and doing it together, sharing what you find, sharing your questions, your vulnerabilities, as well as your insights and wisdom is one of the greatest gifts that in giving, you also receive. So, as you continue to work through the project, I really look forward to seeing them in the project gallery and I look forward to seeing what everybody creates. So, keep that in mind as you're going through. Take lots of documentation, and I look forward to seeing them at the end. I would love for you to think of each of these exercises as 10-minute chunks, 10 minutes. So, a secret is that in the studio, I love to use a timer. I got it at IKEA, and it does nothing but be a timer. It's different from my iPhone. It doesn't have Instagram on it. I won't get lost in the Internet rabbit hole. It's just a timer, and I set it for 10 minutes go. So, each of these exercises, at the end, I'll remind you, get out a timer, hit start, 10 minutes. That's going to be the increment for the entire project. If you want to go above and beyond later, do it. But, I would recommend really starting with 10 minutes and seeing how much juice you can get out of that time. 3. Exercise 1: The Really Cool Shit Folder: Exercise number one. Let's start. I like to call this exercise the Really Cool Shit Folder. This is a name borrowed from a dear friend of mine who has this wonderful activity, which I'm now going to share with you. What I'd like for you to do, you're going to need your iPhone. You are going to need your camera roll on your iPhone. You're going to need a printer, preferably a color printer. If you can get your hands on one, I think it really does make a difference. What else are you going to need? You're going to need, I think that's it. It's very simple. That's all you need. Cool. So, this is what you're going to do. I want you to pull up the camera roll on your phone. This is what's so cool about must already being all around you. Your preferences, your desires, your inclinations, they're already all around you, and in fact, they're on your camera roll. I want you to open up your camera roll, and I want you to select the last 50 photographs that you took on your phone that weren't social photos, that weren't photos from your holiday party, or hanging out with family and friends. Maybe it is a doorway that you pass by on your way home from work. Maybe it is a particular color that you saw. Maybe it was a flower that just stopped you dead in your tracks. Maybe was a screenshot that you took of somebody's Instagram photo. Maybe it was a song that you want to listen to. I'd like for you to go through and grab those photos, and I'd like for you to print them on your printer. So, you might need to upload these to your computer, so we can add computer to the materials list here. I want you to print them out on your printer. Imagine this is your print out in a contact sheet style. So, let's say two by three, so it would like this. If you print them out in color, this would be like really what an 8 1/2 by 11 would look like, and you would have a photo here, a photo here, a photo here, and then I would love for you to cut them with scissors. So, okay, I lied. I guess you need also your laptop, and you need some scissors, or your computer. Maybe it's not a laptop. That's a funny looking laptop. So, you're going to have this contact sheet, and I want you to have 50 of them. So, this is six, so you're going to need about 10 pieces of paper if I'm doing the math right. Right? You'll need nine pieces of paper because that's 54, so you'll need nine pieces of paper. Print them out in color, and cut them up, and then have your stack to the side. That's Exercise 1. Ten minutes, go. 4. Exercise 2: The Stack of Notecards: For exercise number two, the materials that you're going to need are your mobile phone, your Instagram account, and you're going to need some notecards. Now, notecards are a secret magical tool in my toolkit that I absolutely love. I use notecards for everything. Actually, when I was writing the book, I wrote the entire book on notecards, and then I pinned them up using these little pushpins. I love these pushpins in particular because when you put them into the wall, they have a little gripper. Sometimes they have a flat top and then it's very difficult to get them out. You're using your nails. These are great because they're clear. I like the clear ones. I keep them in jars all around the house. If you get notecards, for exercise number two, I would recommend getting three by five or four by six unlined. Now, you might have to go to a few different places to find unlined notecards. I'm not sure why the lines are there. We want unlined notecards so you can do whatever you want on them. With this activity, eventually, you're going to need the pushpins. You don't necessarily need them now, but if you have them, begin collecting them in your house. You're going to need 15 notecards, unlined, and you're going to need your phone and your Instagram account. You also need a pen. I like sharpies. Sharpies are a great tool to use because the point is so thick that it actually keeps you from writing too much detail work. You can't get lost in your own writing with a sharpie. It requires that you keep your letters big and fluid. There's also something very fun about holding a marker and when you're working with a sharpie, especially for later, when we're putting our work up on the wall, you're going to be able to see your work much easier with a very thick dark line, as opposed to a small pencil line that might be difficult to read. You want to make these cards glanceable. So, for this activity, I want you to open up your Instagram account, and I would like for you to go to the folks who you follow. Click on that tab. Within that list, maybe you follow a hundred people, maybe you follow a couple of thousand people, I like for you to, on each card, put the name, the handle, of the last 15 people that you have followed that aren't friends. These are people whose accounts just inspire you for one reason or another. One of the reasons I love the Instagram account is because we follow people on a whim. We see something, maybe they're floating down a river, and something about that lights us up, and so we follow their account. Maybe they're running through the stars, maybe they are making some really cool street art. There's something about that account that's caught us, and Instagram allows us to follow them very easily. So, on each of the cards, you're going to write a different person's handle, one per card. Underneath, I'd like for you to write two words that describe the emotion of that account. So, for example, I follow this husband and wife duo the other day who are building these tiny houses in Hawaii, and they're very natural and they're very warm and peaceful. So, maybe the two words that I would put on that card would be natural and very clever because these homes are incredibly creative, maybe also simple, if I had a third word, it would go on there. But I'd like for you to almost become a detective in your own Instagram account and see what's there and see what types of accounts you've been following for inspiration. If you don't have a lot of accounts that you follow, maybe you use Instagram primarily socially, I would encourage you to find a couple and then put one on each card. Once you have that stack of notecards, set those with the stack from exercise one, and then we will add to it on exercise number three. Once again, 10 minutes, set the timer, go. 5. Exercise 3: Call Your Mom: Exercise three. Okay. So, now you have a growing stack of note cards that, at this moment, might not make a whole lot of sense but that's okay. We're in play mode, we are deferring judgment, and we are trying to grow that stack very large. Of course, we want it to have a resonance. We want it to be a rich stack of harvested items from your life, but we do want quantity over quality at this point. So, exercise number three is going to grow your stack of cards a little bit more. I like to call this exercise, "Call your mom" or somebody who knew you when you were little. Now, you might ask, "That sounds like my mom would really enjoy a phone call but why does this help me on my journey towards must?" Well, I was recently giving a talk about the crossroads of should and must, and after the talk, an older gentleman came up to me and he said, "But what if I don't know what my must is?" He almost whispered it, as though he felt bad about not knowing exactly where his must was pointed. I said two things to this man. First, I said, "Cool. Cool. Welcome. There are so many people who share this question with you." The second was to call his mom or someone who knew him when he was little. Because nowhere is the essence of must more purely exhibited than when we're kids. When we're kids, we are unbridled enthusiasm for our passion. I want to show you a particular spread from the book. This is one of my favorite spreads in the book. It is a photograph of a young girl who came to paint in the studio, and I will never forget the day that she walked in to the space. I had put white pieces of paper all over the walls. Primarily oriented towards her height. The entire wall was just a blank canvas, it was a tabula rasa and she walked in and I told her before she came in the front door that there was only one rule in the studio. She said what's that? I said, there are no rules. She marched into the studio fearless, fearless. She grabbed paint, she mixed colors that she just intuitively knew that she needed to create. She was able to make moves fluidly, beautifully, and then walk up to this huge wall of white paper and begin working. She worked uninterruptedly for about an hour or maybe two and then promptly wanted some cheddar bunnies which are like goldfish. It was amazing. It was absolutely amazing to see someone so free and unbridled with their work. So what I would like for you to do is to call your mom or someone who knew you when you were little and ask them to tell you stories about what you were like and take notes. This is what you're going to be doing with your note cards for this section. I would recommend getting maybe 10 or 15 of your note cards and set them aside and get on the phone and ask them questions about things like your mannerisms. Were you maybe a child who preferred a group or were you a child who preferred to be on your own. Were you a child who loved to get messy, were you a child who wore your clothes backwards? Maybe there are things, maybe there are mannerisms, maybe there are places that you enjoyed going, maybe you are always outside. Maybe you really enjoyed being in a corner in your room. Maybe a bit about the things that you enjoyed. We don't take this as literal. Like I enjoyed playing with bugs as a child. So, you might ask well what does that have to do with me finding my must? But as I began to collect my mannerisms I really loved, I was always touching things as a kid. I was a very physical, tactile child. Those are incredible powerful clues about your must. So call them, take notes, and begin putting those stories on note cards. Collect 10 or 15 of them and even if they don't make sense at first, hold on to all of them, because these cards contain your earliest seeds of must. Pick up the phone, make the phone call, 10 minutes tops, tell mom you love her, and I'll see you back for exercise four. 6. Exercise 4: The Treasure Hunt: It's time for exercise four. And this is the last exercise in phase one of two phases of the project. This is also an exploratory divergent activity. In this activity, we're going to call it a treasure hunt. Now, I believe that there are treasures, there are clues all around us every day, if we only know what we're looking for, and actually believe that they're there. I'd like to share with you a conversation between two incredible thinkers, Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell, the mythologist. They had a wonderful exchange up at Skywalker Ranch, and this was captured on PBS as a show called, "The Power of Myth", which is incredible. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in thinking more about having a treasure hunt in your life. Bill Moyers says, "Do you ever have the sense of being helped by hidden hands?" Campbell replies saying, "All the time, it is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of these invisible hands coming all the time. Namely, that if you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be." Consider this next activity a door that's going to open, and maybe you didn't know it was going to be there. So, you have two options for this treasure hunt. One, is to go into a local bookstore, the other is to stand in front of your own bookshelf at your home. If you go into a bookstore, I recommend just following your intuition about a section of the store that speaks to you. So, for example, I was recently in Portland, and I walked in, and there were maybe two, three dozen sections within the store, and I thought, "Well, right now I'm really interested in psychology and I'm also really interested in children's books." So, I ended up going to those two sections and I stood in front of them and did this activity. Now, if you're not at a bookstore and you're at home, just go and stand in front of your bookshelf at home, and the activity is as follows, what I'd like for you to do, is to look at all of the books that are there on the shelf. Imagine for a moment that inside one of these books there is a clue. There is a hidden door, as Joseph Campbell would call it, that's just waiting for you. Now, you have selected either this section of the store or your own books, because these things have caught you in some way. So, trust that there is some intelligence inside of these books that you're going to find in this activity. As you look at the spines of the books, maybe some are skinny and tall, maybe some are short and fat, maybe some are collections, maybe some are sitting horizontally, I'd like for you to use your hands and run over the spines of the books. I'd like for you to use your eyes and just begin to feel your way into what books are speaking to you, and grab those spines off the shelf. As you're holding the books, maybe flipping them over, maybe you want to read a little description on the back, begin thumbing through them and whittle it down to just one book. Now, as you hold this book, the activity isn't to imagine that there's a clue, it's to actually believe that it exists inside of there, that is already in there. What I'd like for you to do is to crack the book. Crack the book in a playful manner. Maybe you don't even look at the pages, maybe you're just thumbing through them, maybe you think, "Oh, I'm going to go three more, I'm going to go three more, and then I put my finger on the page, and I'm going to read this paragraph, or look at this image." Trust that there is something around here that is meant for you to find it. So, I've just put my finger on a little paragraph, you can find your paragraph, maybe there's a sentence in there. If it doesn't exactly speak to you, you maybe go to the next paragraph or flip the page, but it's right around there. It's like you're on the putting green of the clue, and your goal is just to find the little nugget, find the treasure. Almost as if you are receiving a fortune cookie, use the cards to begin writing down sentences from the book, or an illustration. Something, "Oh, wow! There it is." Okay. So, for me this diagram on the left would be what I would capture on one of my cards. I would like for you to use maybe five or ten cards to capture different elements that speak to you on this treasure hunt. After you do that, I'd like for you to collect all of your cards and hopefully, you have maybe around 50 at this point from, exercises one, two, three, and four. When you're done with this activity, you're going to take all of these clues, because that's really what they all are, that you've been harvesting them out of your own life, out of your own interests, and it's amazing to think that your cards are unique to you, unique to your experiences. You share no cards with anyone else, maybe there's a sentence that's shared. But all of the parts, the ingredients that you now have in front of you, you've harvested these from your own life, from your own, maybe even unconscious decision-making along the way. So, this is a very sacred stack of cards. Finish exercise four. Again, set the timer for ten minutes, and I'll see you back. Go. 7. Exercise 1: Pin Up Your Cards: So now, we're going to jump into phase two, and within phase two, there are going to be six exercises that take us from this smorgasbord of possibilities down to our final artifact. For the first exercise in this second phase, we're going to call this, well, it's really just called "pinning up your cards." Nothing fancy about that. You've got all of these cards in front of you. The materials you'll need are pushpins. I really like clear ones, especially because they collect paint and all kinds of weird detritus from the studio on them all of the time. They kind of become little artifacts and of themselves. With these pins, you're going to take your cards and find someplace in your home where you can pin them up. So, I'll tell you a little secret that I don't know if many people know. I pin up my most important things in the bathroom, because the bathroom is where we are every day, multiple times a day. Specifically, if you have a blank wall in your bathroom, it's not only a place that you see, but any of your friends who come over, anybody who comes over for a dinner party, if they need to use the bathroom, they also get to see this kind of growing collection of things that you have on your walls. So, my bathroom is a very important place, especially because showering is one of the most creative times of the day for me, and I get to put things all up in the shower, putting cards all over the walls. I even have a note next to the wall, next to the cards, that says, "Ask me about these cards", "Ask me what's happening here", because then that invites participation into my process which sometimes is nebulous. So, take your cards, and for this activity, your job is to just pin them up on the wall. After you have pinned them up all on the wall, get them in a place where they can exist for maybe a little bit of time, like a couple of weeks, and you're going to begin playing with this wall for the next five activities in this set. So, take 10 minutes. Pin up your things. Go. 8. Exercise 2: Cluster Your Cards: So now, we are in Exercise Number 2 of the focus phase, and I want to talk about some of the very specific nature of what your wall might begin to look like when you pin up your cards. I think this is a technical exercise that can be helpful for folks as you begin to put them all together. As you pin them up on your wall, I would like for you to cluster them together. So you're going to have photographs from your camera roll, you're going to have some words on your cards of comments from your mom. I'd like for you to cluster them together. Now you can do tall columns. You could have one column for each of the activities or you could think of them more as bubbles. But maybe give each one a title so you know what that cluster of cards is. So maybe, under one you say, "Call your mom." At the top of another column, maybe you say, "Really cool shit." Maybe you title each one of them. This exercise is really about organizing your cards, getting to know them, and making sure that the layout is digestible for you in some way. If you have any pencil or any fine lines, go back in with your sharpie because now, you're looking at your whole wall all in one spot. You want to be able to see everything at a glance and you have quite a few cards. Make sure that your notes are very visible. So, when you're looking at the entire set, you can very quickly get a snapshot for what you have there. So that's Exercise 2. Organize your wall. Set the clock for 10 minutes. Go. 9. Exercise 3: Look For Patterns: All right. Now we are in Exercise Number 3 of focus. And for Exercise Number 3, we are going to look for patterns across all of your different cards. Now, this one needs a little bit of explanation because what we're going to do is we going to cross, we're going to create patterns across categories. We are going to re-organize. We are going to look for patterns wherever they might be manifesting in your cards. So, let's say you have four categories at the highest level right at the moment on your cards. What I'd like for you to do is begin thinking about these little cards as potential guests at a dinner party. Hang with me. Imagine that all of these different cards, you have invited over to your home and you are having to organize who will sit next to who at the dinner table. Maybe you have somebody that you just recently followed on Instagram, who actually might sit very closely to an activity that you did as a child that you heard about on your phone call. Even though those are from different categories, unpin them on the wall and sit them next to each other at your dinner table, which is your wall. I'd like for you to go through all of these different categories and begin reshuffling your wall. Maybe some things will stay as they are, but what you want to do is begin to identify themes. You want to begin to find connections and maybe they aren't so obvious. Maybe you just see that you've collected a lot of blue images and then, "Look, also I'm following this account, where this woman is in a van again driving through blue skies." Are those related? They might be. This is where you begin to shuffle the cards and look for connections especially that you haven't seen before. Now, you might not fully understand why dinner guests might be sitting next to each other, but imagine the conversations that they could have. Imagine where if these clusters of images were to continue to roll forward what they might begin to look like in your life. Take the treasure hunt clues, mash them up next to your really cool shit folder images, and begin to play. This is in a very loose moment of combining and recombining or we're cross-pollinating and I strongly encourage you to either use your hands to put them together or you could if you draw on your walls, I draw on my walls, you can just draw lines between things almost like a crossword puzzle. Or you could maybe get some red string, especially because you have these as pushpins, you can wrap the string around them. So, maybe you're actually beginning to create constellations with string on your wall although that can get a little messy. The easiest thing is just to move them. You might be adding a couple of new cards. Let's say this entire category is beginning to look and feel or taste like the following. You might begin to bolster them up a little bit, but you're going to look for patterns and try to capture them any way that makes sense for you and for your wall. And maybe you take a pass it for 10 minutes, which I'd recommend you doing right now, and then tomorrow when you're in there washing your hair or you see it in your mirror as you're blow drying, it's always fun to see your work backwards in a mirror. You're going to have new insights about this work and what it continues to mean. Maybe you'll sit with it for a couple of days. It will look different to you fresh in the morning versus when you're exhausted after work at the end of the day. Sit with it, have people ask questions about it, talk about it, and feel your way into the patterns that want to emerge that are already there in your life just waiting, waiting, waiting for you to find them. So, 10 minutes, set the timer, go. 10. Exercise 4: The 50,000 ft. View: Okay, you have just looked and found patterns in your work, so that means that you are ready for exercise number four. I would like to call this exercise The 50,000-foot exercise. 50,000-feet. Foot. Feet. We'll do both. I'm not sure what's right. 50,000-feet. Feet, I think that's right. Okay. So exercise number four. You've been down in the weeds. You've been down looking at the trees, looking at all of these very subtle detailed nuanced aspects of your cards, which has been terrific. I'm very excited to see what's happening in each of your projects. But now, what we're going to do is we're going to zoom out. Instead of being five inches from the base of the tree, we are going to zoom out and be in the clouds. This is the 50,000-feet, whatever it's called, view. What we're going to do is we're looking for a lay of the land. We're looking to see what's happening at a very high level. We are zooming out. For this activity, what you're going to do is you're going to look at your wall, maybe you need to just sit in front of it, and meditate on what's happening on your wall. Just sit in front of this space, and be with it. I want for you to imagine that this is a forest, this is a landscape of possibility. I want you to begin to look for four clusters within this large forest. You might already have four clusters of content there. You might need to create them. But you can imagine that you've got these four nebulous spaces, maybe there's a bit of overlap, but they're beginning to emerge. What we want to do is we want to identify them, and we want to draw them up to the 50,000-foot level. So, for me, when I think of how to get to a very high level, a great metaphor is the idea of a book cover. Creating a book cover demands that you get to the very highest level and that you aren't down in the detailed weeds of what's inside the book. You have to kind of say in one quick glance like what it's all about, and so I would recommend that you make for book covers or kind of think of them in that way. You can put them on your note cards. Maybe there's one image from your set that you're just like that's it. The man leaping off the cliff. That's it for this entire section. Great use it. Maybe you need to find it. Maybe it's just one word. Maybe it just says "Blue." Maybe it just says "Yves Klein" who had amazing, incredible studies in Blue throughout his whole life. Whatever it is for you. Find one card. Make one card, and you'll have four at the end of this exercise that give you a very quick overview of what's happening inside the forest. Again, 10 minutes. So that's two and a half minutes for each one of your cards. Don't overthink it. Go fast. Keep it with a Sharpie. Don't get too detailed. Grab a photograph. Grab a card. Four pens. Go! 11. Exercise 5: Rank: Now, we are on exercise five, and this one is particularly fun because, remember that diagram at the beginning where I talk about focusing and focusing and the arrow is getting smaller and smaller? We are about to refine even further and it's amazing, I think, in this process just how many preferences each one of us have. Sometimes, I don't know if you're like this, I find it so much easier to edit than it is sometimes to create, and that's why I love over-creating. As a designer, when we were designing iPhone apps, we would create so many screens, we would create probably 10 x the amount of actual work that went into the final product. So, at this point, you're just looking at all of the things that you've created in your editing, your whittling away, and in exercise five, we're going to do exactly that and try to get closer and closer to this artifact. For exercise five, the word that I'd like to write is "rank". It could also be "edit", it could be "refine". We are going to take those four thesises that you pulled out in exercise number four, and you're going to rank them. So you could imagine, maybe you aren't on the wall relocating all of your cards because that's a lot of work. What I'd like for you to do is maybe get post-it notes or for new cards and literally write number one, number two, number three, number four. One of the cool things about cards is that you can shuffle them, you can reorganize them. So go up in your wall, take 10 minutes, and just put number one, two, three and four. So, your number one would be, this category is really grabbing me right now. This is something I've been just thinking about all the time. So for example, one of the things I've been thinking about a lot right now that's really caught me is just my need to be in nature, my need to be outside. So, if I had a number one card, I would put it right there because I'm sure there'll be a category about some amazing things that are happening outdoors across all of my cards. Your number one card should be the thing that feels like a necessity in your life, you have just got to figure out this category. Numbers two and three, also probably passionate about it. Number four is like, that's cool, I keep collecting photos or being interested in things in this category but I don't feel like I need to go do it next weekend. Put those four categories on and again, nothing is permanent, Just take a shot at it, go out for lunch, take a walk and then come back with refreshed eyes and look at it again. Maybe it'll continue to resonate, maybe you'll think, "Maybe one and two to need to switch" but get the ranking into four categories and that's step number five, take 10 minutes, take a pass and we'll see you back here for the final step of the project. 12. Exercise 6: Your North Star: All right. You have arrived at the final step of the project. Step number six of phase two which is focus. Like I showed you in the diagram very early on, after all of this divergent thinking, the reason we focus, the reason we refine it's almost like having a flashlight. Do you guys know what a Maglite is? We had one when I was a kid is this very powerful light. When you would turn it on if it was unfocused beautiful bright light would shine everywhere in the darkest of places, but it was incredibly dangerous because it's very blinding. At times these lights if you're in the middle of the dark and somebody turned it on, you would be seeing stars for a couple of minutes. That's a bit what our creative process is like. If it's left unfocused it can be chaotic and blinding in some ways. It's a hard place to be to find our way through, but on a Maglite when you begin to tighten that frame, when you begin to really bring it into focus, this very scattered light begins to sharpen and very much intensify. You can see great distance in the middle of the night with one of these powerful lights, that's where we are in the project right now. We are honing in, and honing in, and honing in. We are tightening, so, we have a laser beam forward for what's in front of us. So, for exercise six, I like to call this exercise the final one, your North Star. This is your guiding North Star for an adventure that you are going to go on. What you're going to need for exercise six is a playful spirit of adventure and you're going to need to look at your cards and you're going to need to choose one, one of your categories. In the last exercise, we pulled out these high-level theses and then we ranked them. It probably makes the most sense to grab category number one, since you've felt your way into that and you've marked that as an important priority for you right now. I highlight the word 'right now' because this project can go on, and on, and on. For right now, choose one of your categories. Maybe it's your ranking number one, it could be ranking number two, but what I'd like for you to do with this content, is think about this content as your North Star. There's something in here that very much in the distance is calling you towards it. That maybe you don't exactly know what it means or how you're going to get there but it is a guiding light out in front of you. What I'd like for you to do is to create an adventure that gets you one step closer to that North Star which might be very, very far away. I'd like for you to design one step that just puts you on that trajectory. The cool thing about this sixth exercise is it doesn't have to be enormous. It doesn't have to be write your manuscript for that play. It doesn't have to be buy a home in nature. It doesn't have to be something big and extravagant. The North Star exists to inspire us, and to call us forward, and to give us momentum and direction into that energy. Your next step might be mundane, it might be something very small that you can do in five minutes. So, the seed that I want to plant in your head is this idea of an artist date. There's a terrific book called, The Artist's Way by a woman who really, really gets it. Her name is Julia Cameron. In this book, she talks about the role of the artist date as an integral part of our process. She says that, every once in a while take your inner artist on a date. For this exercise, she would recommend doing it as a solo activity and you can do anything that your inner artist wants. So, we're going to take a little bit of a riff on this activity and what I want for you to do is you're going to take this North Star, the inner part of you that is being called in this way on a date. I think doing it on your own is terrific because it allows you to kind of just play in this dream world that you're creating for yourself. If somebody else wants to go along or if that's important for you, of course, you can do that. For your North Star activity, I want you to dream up something that might not make any sense. Maybe you have a category that's all about wind and so you're North Star activity might be to go and ride a bike and just experience the sensations of wind. The reason I highlight this activity is I think it suggests a reframing of how we think about productivity. There might be something about this activity that feels silly even ridiculous. You might not even want to tell anybody that you're going to do it, but let me tell you there is some intelligence in this activity and that this whole project has led you to this place. I don't understand how it works but I trust it. If you need to feel wind, ride your bike down a hill. Find the greatest hill in the city and ride it down and feel the wind. Maybe you need to go race fast sports cars. For me, once I needed to just go and hand wash a car in the summertime. What I want for you to do is look at these photos within that category, find some activity that would allow you and do it like in the next couple of days. Do it today, if you can. Maybe it's a walking alone around the street and something is going to happen on that activity. Maybe you will begin to have some new ideas or some new thoughts. I'd like for you to capture them. Maybe with a photograph, maybe with words, maybe after you go on your North Star experience you sit down and you commit to writing for 15 minutes, you commit to grabbing more images. And what you're going to do from that set, is you're going to create your final artifact for the project. There is something within this experience that maybe as you look at it you realize that you want to grab a couple of images, a couple of words. Maybe there is something that you are being called to explore more fully. I want you to create a mood board of sorts, a collection of these images and words that are informed by and inspired by your activity that you're going to go on. I want for you to collect and cluster all of them together so that you have a map about this journey that you are beginning. I would like for you to take no more than a little bit of time this week to do this activity. When you're done, sit down and say, "Okay, after all of these steps, after all of these things, these conversations with mom or someone that I knew, all of these images how would I summarize all of this up into one artifact about this journey that I'm on?" Now, maybe you'll have multiple boards over time and that's great because I would like to point out that this is not just a journey for a couple of days, this is the journey of your lifetime. If you can begin to see your life in this way you will have doors opening left and right. The thing that I want to leave you with before you go out and design your ideal North Star activity is a quote from one of my favorite poets, Persian poet named Rumi, and anyone who's going on a journey, who's going on an adventure, who is really looking for some advice and a moment where you maybe aren't sure what to do next, I will leave you with his advice which is so wonderful and has nourished me on my journey and it is this, "Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray." Good luck. 13. How This Process is Manifesting in My Life: I thought it would be helpful to share a personal experience of how this process is manifesting in my own life. In case it helps you tactically think about your own process and where it might be guiding you. One of the things that began emerging for me was an interest in collecting books to read. I began feeling called towards doing more reading and specifically looking to grab reading lists from people who are maybe folks who had interests in the same domains that I did. So, I collected a very long reading list from a number of friends and similar to our bookstore activity that we talked about earlier, I kind of just looked at the list and felt my way into it. It wasn't like start at the top and read all the way to the bottom. One of the books that I pulled off of my reading list shelf was a beautiful small book by Rainer Maria Rilke that was recommended to me by a dear friend of mine, and the book is called Letters to a Young Poet. I'm not sure if you've read it, but it is a terrific book. As I began reading this book, I got maybe into the third or fourth page and in the chronology, I saw that Rainer Maria Rilke, the poet actually up and moved to Paris early in his life just to mentor with Auguste Rodin, the sculptor who was working and living in Paris who was much, much more senior than Rilke. So, I'm reading this book, I come across this little bit and I immediately close the book and I say, "I have to figure out what happened between Rilke and Rodin". Now, maybe rationally, I would think but I also need to finish the book. I just set it aside and I went with it. Okay? So, I realized then that Rilke lived with Rodin for three years and learned all about his process and learned all about how he thought about his work, in his studio, and his life, and Rilke ended up writing a book about Auguste Rodin. Did you know this? I think, it's terrific. So, I went onto Amazon, and I ordered this book. It's kind of out of print. It was a little bit hard to find, but it really just says in huge letters, Rilke and Rodin on the cover. Just to imagine that these two minds were coming together in this work was fascinating to me. I ordered it overnight. I got it the next day and I began reading. Well, lo and behold, I ended up finding myself in Paris. In Paris is Rodin's museum. So, I kept this book with me as I was on this treasure hunt of sorts trying to figure out what is it about Rilke? What is it about Rodin? What is it about their partnership? All of these things I didn't know where it was going. It was very ambiguous, but I trusted the process, and I think that would be a big piece of advice I would leave to you, to trust that this process works its way out. So, I get to Paris, I'm in front of the Rodin Museum, and guess what? It's closed. I get all the way there, and I think well, this treasure hunt is not working out for me today. But in fact, I continued to read the book and a couple of weeks later, I ended up in a conversation with someone all about Rodin. How does this work? I don't know. I end up in a conversation with somebody about Rodin and what came out is this, I began to realize across my life as I thought about this book and other things that were surfacing almost like my own mood board of sorts that if it had a thesis at the top, it would be around solitude and patience. Rodin was, Oh, look I wrote presence that works too, but it would also be about patience. That's cool. My mind wanted to write presence and patience, I guess are the same thing. Rodin, when he created his very first sculpture, one of his early sculptures, he submitted to a competition and it was rejected. He worked on his sculpture for three more years, submitted it again. Also, rejected. At the second rejection, Rodin decided to go into his workshop and put his head down and figure out what was really happening in his work. For 13 years, he worked silently and with his head down for 13 years. I remember reading this in my Rilke Rodin book and then I was in the middle of a conversation about patience, and solitude, and presence with our work and I just imagined, Rodin sitting there with this enormous block of marble, and what he would do is night after night, he would look at this marble and he would wait, not for his own insight to see what he wanted to create out of the marble but he wanted to find the image that was already inside of the marble and his job was merely to reveal it. That's what he saw, his role in his work. So, for me, how do I take all of these disparate parts that has led me on a around the world treasure hunt so to speak. What does that mean? This is a wonderful metaphor. I would maybe include if I had a book cover a single piece of marble on the cover and maybe a word about him waiting patiently for him to understand what the work already is. Not what he wants to make it. What he wants to shape it, but what it already is. As you think about your mood board, as you think about your artifact, it's going to raise new questions. It's going to raise new insights. It's going to lead you in new ways and its going to evolve. So, maybe underneath my final artifact which would be a lot of patient looking, and waiting which is about solitude and practice and also duration of time, maybe I would include 10 years on one of my cards. What would it look like if I actually put my head down and worked on one thing quietly for 10 years? Those are some of the questions that I'm asking right now. This mood board would serve me really well. I would maybe put it above the kitchen sink, so I would see it when I'm washing dishes just to reflect on a new way, a new cadence of thinking about my work. Now, it's funny that it all started with a reading list and then a Rodin, and then a trip to Paris, and all of these crazy connections. I think that's the point is that if you just begin looking the clues are everywhere all around you. It's like a room with tons of doors. Every single door will get you there. Whether I had grabbed a reading list, or maybe had a conversation on a bus. The reason that it all gets me there is because the must inspiration is there no matter what, and I am attuned to trying to grab it, to trying to find it, and they will all take me in, but it requires that I show up and it requires that I do one thing. It requires that I hang up the cards on the wall that I organize, and that I call my mom. It requires all of these steps and now, I too have my own artifact. Maybe, I don't exactly know what's going to happen in the next 10 years of my practice, but I know that that's the type of commitment that I need in order to keep going. So, I have a roadmap. I have an artifact and now, it's about building on new questions, adding new dimensions to it, and seeing where the journey will unfold. The great thing is that the journey continues. It goes on forever, and if we can continue to see these clues all around us every day through a conversation that we happen to have with somebody who we didn't expect to meet, maybe a book on our bookshelf, a website we stumble across, a new Instagram account. See every single opportunity as a doorway into the journey that is just waiting for you. Waiting for you and hoping that you will find it and move forward towards your must.