A nineteenth century Bohemian poet and a twenty-first century startup inspired me to start writing every day.
I began on January 1st.
The photo accompanying this post is from a conference I attended three years ago themed “Communicating Liberty through Film” which was co-hosted by the Foundation for Economic Education and the Moving Pictures Institute.
During that conference, I met T.K. Coleman (pictured) who delivered some pretty fun and inspiring talks to conference participants. T.K. Coleman told us about his decision to blog every single day and the impact that it had had on his life.
Reflecting on the end of his long streak Coleman wrote, “For 1,113 consecutive days, I’ve shown up here and written a blog post about some aspect of creativity, philosophy, spirituality, or self-determinism. That streak will end today.” Why did he stop? “After 3-years of not missing a day,” he explained, “I’ve proven to myself that I can persistently show up, come hell or high-water, and write everyday. Now I’m ready to challenge myself in new ways. I’m ready to ‘commit to the next level’ whatever that happens to be for me.”
As Jordan Peterson would say, it’s not a mystery why most people don’t stick to positive daily habits; the real mystery is why and how they ever do. T.K. just did it because, as he explains in this excellent clip, “Dreams Don’t Come True, Decisions Do“.
When I met T.K. Coleman at the conference, he struck me a person high on life, bursting with creativity, and with that rare and elevating quality of sincerely rejoicing in the flourishing and successes of others. It’s no wonder he works at one of the coolest organizations I know of, Praxis.
Founded by Isaac Morehouse, Praxis is a yearlong apprenticeship program that involves a six-month professional development bootcamp and a six month paid apprenticeship at a growing start up. The approach: you don’t need a college degree in order to start creating value. Just do it. You become a writer by writing. You become a graphic designer by doing projects. You become proficient at a language by reading and writing in that language. Etc., etc. Basically, you are what you repeatedly do, just like Aristotle said.
I commend Isaac Morehouse and T.K. Coleman for their work, especially because it has much broader impact beyond those who participate in their stellar program. Reading the Praxis blog and listening to their podcasts nurtures a value-creation mindset as opposed to a permission-based mindset, as they put it.
Too often, I would submit a piece of writing for publication and wait ages to receive feedback on it. Sometimes it wouldn’t even get published after all. (Lame!) Scholarly papers are even worse. They have roughly the same gestational period as human infants.
Here Isaac Morehouse explains how his motivation to found Praxis started with daily blogging on Coleman’s recommendation. And here Praxis participants discuss the challenges and rewards of daily blogging. There’s no doubt about it: creating cultivates confidence.
A few people ask, “Do you find it hard to come up with something to write about every day?”
Here’s where the Bohemian poet comes in.
One of my very favourite poets is Rainer Maria Rilke. In his first letter to the young Franz Kappus, Rilke says with the most inspiring admonishment: “If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches.”
Now, there are surely different ways to call forth life’s riches. Blogging is, of course, not a universal human vocation.
But Rilke reminds us:
[…] for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sound – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attention to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger…
I have found that writing every day energizes me to notice things. It’s a way to push myself to learn and to remain ever open to reality and curious about it.
Throughout my master’s program I traded blogging for the university in exchange for my tuition, which was a lot of fun as well as useful. Opportunities always flow from creating value.
This post is an expression of gratitude to the countless persons from whom I have learned and continue to learn such lessons.