Cannes 2012: Creativity & The Red Carpet

Four Secrets to Make a Dream into Reality

Today, up the coastline from Nice, the Palais des Festivals is hosting the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This year, close to 30,000 people are attending from all over the world. Of the 4,300 films submitted, 138 will be screened at the show. Only the best of the best are accepted.

From screenwriters to actors, from directors to editors, Cannes is a celebration of creative talent. It is also an auction block for creative product. Deals are conjured over drinks in the Majestic bar, and films are bartered at poolside parties up and down the Croisette.

The red carpet is the diamond in the cinematic crown. But the crown itself is carved behind the scenes, through lifetimes of hard work, lucky breaks, and shrewd business dealings. Real people doing real jobs for real money, most of whom began their journeys with a dream.

Where’s Your Hero?

We live in a world of opposites. Top and bottom. Success and failure. Dreams and reality. Film stars seem to bridge these opposites, making not only their own dreams real, but ours as well. This is why we adore them, and why we love to tear them down. When you make someone else responsible for your dreams coming true, you will eventually resent them for not being you.

The cure is to take the wheel of your own life. But how?

Secrets of Transformation

Creativity is more than product. It is process as well, though this is unlikely to win awards. The brilliance of a perfect product can blind; and real, daily life can seem quite dull by contrast. But you also bridge two worlds, making your own dreams real… or not. What does it take to transform a dream into reality?

  1. Vision. For decades, I have listened to creative people struggle with these contrasts. Before they put pen to paper, they flash forward to the awards and the critics. If they are not “the most extraordinarily gifted writer since Hemingway,” they cannot bear to write the next word. Those who succeed learn to detach from these objectified projections and return to their own creative vision.
  2. Courage. Creativity involves taking risks. Sometimes our dreams come true. Sometimes they don’t. The products we create have a lifespan, usually fairly short in comparison to the lifetime of work required. And then we set out again. The process itself transforms us in ways that last a lifetime.
  3. Faith. In every creative cycle, there are those times when nothing appears to be happening. Creative work goes underground; and we must wait, deal with our anxieties, and continue to care for ourselves as creators, even though there are no outward signs of success.
  4. Discipline. While the creative process beings with a vision, it culminates in discipline. “Overnight successes” usually occur after decades of resilience. Every step along the way shows us our blind spots as well as our strengths, and reinforces the truth of our life purpose.

These four secrets reflect the four quarters of The Wheel of Creativity:  Vision, Exploration, Incubation and Cultivation. Each plays an integral part in the creative process.

Some days are easier than others.

This week I received a call for help. The woman on the phone had taken a leap of faith with her work, producing a set of products on spec for a new client. She had invested a great deal of time and money in these products. More importantly, she had invested her dream. This morning, she got the call to come pick them up… all of them. She was devastated, and understandably so.

Sometimes we invest in things that do not pay off the way we think they should. This doesn’t happen in dreams, but it certainly does in reality. What we envision, though it calls us to leave the shore, may not be our actual destination. It’s crucial to hold the wheel lightly, and welcome Life as our collaborator.

The Wheel of Creativity draws a distinction between the Forms of life and the Essence, between the products we create and the energy that imbues them with light. It is possible to have one without the other, but the integration of the two is what moves us most, again and again. It is what the creative process of personal transformation is about.

My woman caller and all of us seeking to live our lives creatively move continuously between form and essence. Each has its part in the process. And forms can be very distracting. Disappointments are opportunities to detach from the forms and return to the essence, the creative energy that is always flowing through us.

This week, millions will enjoy the thrill of Cannes’ celebration, as our favorite stars light the red carpet for us. But, let’s remember that their creative products come through the process, just like ours. Our red carpets may not be in Cannes, but we will walk them because we have taken the journey to get there. If we think the product will save us, we are wrong. We are saved, or not, by the process itself. The product is simply the proof.

Questions? Thoughts? Post them on The Wheel of Creativity Facebook page, and I will respond.