The 1% owning everything while the 99% fight each ther for scraps is not a new concept. “Panem et Circensus”, literal translation being ‘Bread and Circuses’ was a formula created …
5am this morning I woke up terrified. I don’t just mean a bit scared, here. I mean terrified, the kind of paralysing, mind-numbingly, oh-my-god-i’m-gonna-die type terror that I last felt …
Film making and acting has always fascinated me. I’m a huge fan of movie making and I did quite a bit of stage acting when I was younger, but lost …
There’s a great moment in the great David Fincher movie ‘Fight Club’ when a bloodied up and buff Brad Pitt empowers the members of fight club to rise up and …
As I’ve mentioned before on my blogs, there are several massive upsides to embracing real creativity in your life, your business and your Industry. You see, those individuals and organisations …
Whenever I need a surge of energy, swagger and attitude I always turn to the same place. I get the Led out. For many reasons, and to many millions, Led …
My mate has a younger brother who works in marketing for a global food brand. To the outside world, he is a ‘creative’ and carries with him every marketeer creative …
In these, the greatest times of uncertainty we humans have probably ever faced, it’s good to know that there are some things in this world that can always be relied …
Hi folks. It’s been ages since I last blogged – mainly ‘cos (a) I didn’t really know what to say or why, and (b) cos i’ve been busy writing albums, …
I was ten years old when I went on my first ever holiday abroad. Mum and Dad had saved for years to take us to Playa de Palma in Majorca, …
David Chabeaux - Blog
The 1% owning everything while the 99% fight each ther for scraps is not a new concept.
“Panem et Circensus”, literal translation being ‘Bread and Circuses’ was a formula created by Roman poet and satirist Juvenal, thousands of years back, to describe a system the Emperors used to create what they referred to as a ‘well-being of the population’ (otherwise known as a mechanism for gleaning huge power and control over the masses of the Roman people.)
The Emperors of Rome knew that if the masses ever stood together and rebelled, their iron grip would be toppled. But they also knew that the masses were fickle and could, with a little sleight of hand, be tricked. And so, distraction was the name of the game. The Emperor knew that as long as he waved one hand in the air with offerings of food and lavish entertainment spectacles, the masses would be so distracted that his other hand could literally get away with murder and he and his privileged few could do almost anything they wanted.
Replace ‘Bread’ with cheap, unhealthy foods full of refined sugar. Or fast foods. Or Carbonated drinks. Or GM crops loaded with pesticides.
Replace ‘Circuses’ for reality TV obsession. Or product advertising. Or overpaid footballers screaming obscenities at the referee. Or the endless, pointless crap that pours through our phones, tablets, laptops.
Who do you think controls all of that?
Of course, the Roman Empire was eventually toppled for many reasons, not least the anger and restlessness of ordinary people who stood up, together, and shouted SOD THAT. ENOUGH OF YOUR CRAP THANKS.
5am this morning I woke up terrified.
I don’t just mean a bit scared, here. I mean terrified, the kind of paralysing, mind-numbingly, oh-my-god-i’m-gonna-die type terror that I last felt when my great aunt tried to kiss me on the lips when I was 10 years old. Yeeeuuggh.
And why? Well, last week, after almost a year of writing, orchestrating, recording, composing, feedback, re-writing, re-recording, live sessions, more feedback, mixing and mastering, I finished the recording of my new album, SPARK.
I know, I should be excited, right? And I am. I’m excited, proud, happy and joyous.
The crazy thing is that this happens every time I create something. You see, here, in my studio, through my headphones, I feel safe listening to it. It is everything I hoped it would be, everything I wanted it to be and it remains pure. Outside of my cave though, there be monsters. And nasties. And danger, like the danger of rejection from the outside world, or the people who will question my thinking, or the people who won’t like my ideas and my tunes, or my voice and what it represents, or all those armchair critics and realists waiting to pour water on the flames of my dreams.
I. Am. Terrified.
And do you know what i’m gonna do?
F@ck it….I’m gonna take a deep breath and share my work with the world anyway, because even though the scared caveman within me wants to shut me up and hide me away, I wont let him. I can’t. Because if I don’t share this with the world I’m not being the real me. I’m hiding away, being the ‘me’ that the world tells me I should be. So I’m gonna do it and the cards will fall where they may.
Film making and acting has always fascinated me. I’m a huge fan of movie making and I did quite a bit of stage acting when I was younger, but lost touch with it when I was encouraged, by those apparently older and ‘wiser’ than me, to take up more ‘normal’ (or easier to make money in) pursuits. But I’d always felt called to it. So, a few years ago, I discovered it again. I bit the bullet and started studying it and doing it.
Anyhow, for the last few days, I have been acting in a fantastic British Horror film called ‘Lab Rats’ (there I am, second from the right) and for the special effects to be at their most awesome, bloody, gruesome and spectacular, we needed to shoot through the night.
Now, this was the first time I’d ever been involved in a full-out blood and guts horror film. It was also the first time I’d worked right through the night for a number of days running (whilst also needing to function in the daytime with my kids and ‘normal’ clients etc). And as I sat on set, in the middle of this new experience, and as the heads and limbs and guts stretched and exploded on set around us, it occurred to me, like a moment of clarity, that something else had stretched and exploded too.
My comfort zone.
They say that “we are that which we experience“, and so to stretch and to grow we must learn about different things and see the world from as many different perspectives as we can. And boy did I learn some great stuff….
I learned about how amazingly talented, dedicated, passionate and detail-obsessed the crew had to be to make it work, and that I’d have to really step up my game and my focus to be able to deliver the same great results as they were delivering.
I learned how hard a night shoot was, how your body does different things to try and keep you sharp (and, quite literally functioning), but how exhilarating, satisfying and magical it is to see the sun rise as you finish your ‘day’s work’ and drive home.
I learned how adaptable, agile, flexible and disciplined I can be if I choose to be.
And that’s the real trick……Because I could have chosen to stay at home instead and say ‘nah, horror isn’t me’. Or ‘nah, I ain’t shooting through the night‘. Or ‘don’t they know I have things to do in the day?‘ or ‘I just can’t do that‘.
But Instead, I turned up and did it.
And I loved it.
And I learned from it.
And it changed my worldview.
And it lifted my horizons.
And it stretched and exploded my comfort zone.
And I found that spark, that lightning bolt, that illumination, that ‘magic’ in life.
What new stuff will you do today??
There’s a great moment in the great David Fincher movie ‘Fight Club’ when a bloodied up and buff Brad Pitt empowers the members of fight club to rise up and revolt against the establishment.
“The things you own end up owning you. … Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
Ok, it all goes a bit t*ts-up in the movie for a number of bizarre reasons, but the quote intrigues me just the same.
When you were young, at the peak of your creativity, discovery, wonder, imagination and innovation, did you really dream of doing what you do now?
Deep down, you know as well as I do that the meaning, the purpose, the butterflies-in-your-stomach- grin-all-over-your-face life you dreamed of, that your inner child seeks will NEVER come from being famous. Or having another new car. Or taking an extra holiday. Or getting an iPhone upgrade. Or buying a pair of Milono Blaneks. Or having 10,000 likes on Facebook.
These trinkets alone are nothing more than the quick caffeine hit on the grey morning of a life passing us by.
The way I see it, we can
- Continue to prostitute ourselves day after day, whilst pretending that we aren’t at all, arguing that we are being responsible adults by anaesthetising ourselves as we make our way up a shoddy ladder of ‘success’ to provide a security that could crumble at any time because ‘that’s just the way it is’, or
- Set out to rediscover that purpose and meaning, that authentic voice. To heal our inner child not with the material plasters and bandages of bigger houses, better cars and more stuff, but by bigger grins, better relationships and more joy.
‘But I can’t afford to give this up and do what I love’ I hear you say.
Hmmm. I’d say you can’t afford NOT to.
As I’ve mentioned before on my blogs, there are several massive upsides to embracing real creativity in your life, your business and your Industry.
You see, those individuals and organisations that can embrace creativity to find new and authentic ways to engage their staff, clients, suppliers, stakeholders and communities are going to be at a huge competitive advantage, because engaging in this way takes branding way beyond the mechanical and mass. It makes it intensely personal, meaningful and precious. And that breeds real customer loyalty.
But just hold on a sec….before you don your underpants over your jeans and fly off to save the world, let’s also be real about the job to be done, so you’re OK with the funny “you’re a bloody lunatic” stares you’ll inevitably get…
See, the trouble is that most organisations still recruit people who have been educated, by and large, to operate successfully in the context of the current ways and then use further conventional (if any) training to make them more productive at the same stuff. These individuals have long been encouraged to forego originality and embrace fixed process, compliance and standards. And people are restless. This is producing huge stress in these organisations, for example, we know that staff engagement is at record lows and at least 20% of managers at any one time are stressed to the point of ineffectiveness.
And here’s the rub…….
‘cos at the same time that this is happening, the bright eyed guys and girls just entering the workforce and on the cusp of leadership and management positions have very, very, very verrrrryyyyyyyy different expectations of the workplace. With potentially four generations on the shop floor at the same time, the difference in expectations and attitudes between those boomers above, still in senior management positions (and likely to be there for some time) and the incoming millennials is HUGE.
In all this, one thing is absolutely clear to me; we cannot deal with this challenge using the old one-stroke-with-a-wide-bristled-brush-should-do-it organisation-wide change initiative. Yesterday that would have been OK; we’d be able to copy somebody who is doing it better, dip our brush in the same paint pot and brush gaily across the organization to give it a nice new gleam and improve business.
But that was then. And this is now. And that brush aint gonna cover up the black marks.
Tomorrow’s sustainable competitive advantage will be driven instead from creativity, agility, flexibility and true talent management.
If this creation stuff sounds like your bag, then let’s play. I have my red and yellow “S” undies on and a cape in my backpack.
Whenever I need a surge of energy, swagger and attitude I always turn to the same place. I get the Led out.
For many reasons, and to many millions, Led Zeppelin are one of the greatest bands ever. Some of the most powerful sounds, searing melodies, and memorable riffs have come from the hands and throat of Plant, Page, Jones and Bonham. But do you know what I love most of all? Their gaps.
For me, Led Zep’s astonishing power comes from the gaps between each note, each rhythm, each word. The gaps left by John Bonham – their drummer – especially. He created such force and drive by waiting just a millisecond longer than most drummers would and in doing so, found his genius. Just listen to ‘When The Levee Breaks‘ and you’ll see what I mean. Goooooossssssebuuuummmppppppssss!! RIP John.
But when I think of how the journey to creativity works, it’s pretty similar. You see, the journey from our comfort zones to that place where the magic happens is a bit like an expedition into our ‘unknown gaps’, because it’s in the gaps where you’ll find all that really cool stuff that you can do.
Creativity is in the gaps between the notes and rhythms that Led Zep play. It’s in the pauses betweenthe lines that the actor delivers. It’s in the breaths between the movements of the dancer’s body. It’s in the gaps between the swooping, daubed colours of the artists brush. As the revolutionary musician, trumpeter and composer Miles Davis famously said through the plumes of jazz-club smoke; “don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”
Now, like every expedition into the unknown, It’s scary. It’s dangerous. And it comes with huge risk. But it’s also thrilling. It’s inspiring. And it comes with the most enormous rewards. And the nature of the expedition you need to go on, whether a short one to perfect your medium, or a major venture to find your talent and passion and nurture that medium, will differ for each of us, because ‘magic’ means different things to different people.
But the most important thing you can do? START. Even if you’re scared. Just START.
Because once you start to explore, to discover and to embrace your real creativity in your life, in your team, in your business, in your community, you will find that there are enormous upsides to it. We’ll talk more about those soon.
There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold…….
My mate has a younger brother who works in marketing for a global food brand. To the outside world, he is a ‘creative’ and carries with him every marketeer creative cliché imaginable under his weird haircut…. He’s got the paper thin, ludicrously expensive Prada glasses. He talks in acronyms. He wears designer loafers and skinny jeans to the office. He points his finger and winks a lot while making that ‘clicking’ sound with his mouth. He wears way too much aftershave. (I know, for a long time, I wanted to give him a good kicking too).
But you know what? Right now, truth be told, he’s about as creative as last night’s soggy chips. He’s all hype. His persona is one of creativity, however, he does the same things, in the same way, at the same time, on the same days, with the same people, day in and day out, and has been ‘ticking the boxes’ in his job for three years now.
It’s all a big show. He’s scared. So he stays comfy. He’s coasting. He’s OK in his little bubble of safety. Safe, that was, until last week. When was made redundant. Man, you should have seen his face in the pub, bless him, looking through those panic-ridden eyes of “What the hell do I do now”?
So, here he is, Pradas all steamed up from crying, forced out of his comfort zone, bubble truly broken. He now has two choices (the same two choices, I would suggest, that many people, organisations and communities face right now) in that he can either
(a) Look to yesterday, to take the quick and easy option of seeking a ‘comfort zone’ solution, where he can dive back into coasting along in a job he doesn’t really enjoy but it ‘pays the bills and is easy’ and feeling a false sense of security about tomorrow, or
(b) Look to today, get scary and go on an adventure to explore, discover and embrace his real creativity. Not the faux “look-at-me-arent-I-creative-in-my-prada-glasses” creativity you understand, but his real creativity. Because, all that arse hole-ness aside, he’s a really creative bloke.
What do I mean by ‘real creativity’? I mean that we are all inherently creative. Yes, you read it correctly. We are ALL massively creative. It’s a function of intelligence. Even you. So screw what your teachers, your parents, your partners, your mates or your inner ego has told you about you not being creative. Your bones are as creative as anyone else’s. It’s just that you might need to learn how to use ‘em best is all. And that takes guts.
Now…did my mate’s brother get scary in the search for a bit of today’s magic? Or did he play it safe and warm in the perceived comfort zones of yesterday and tomorrow? It matters not. What matters here is you realise this;
You think that others have more creative potential in them than you. They don’t.
This is Major Tom to ground control, I’m stepping through the door……
In these, the greatest times of uncertainty we humans have probably ever faced, it’s good to know that there are some things in this world that can always be relied upon;
- Politicians are always slippery.
- Socks and sandals never work.
- Every cat has a God complex.
- Asking for ‘coffee’ in a coffee house is guaranteed to end in ridicule.
- The little black dress saves the day every time.
And here’s one of my own I’d like to add to this list of ‘safe bets’ and that is IDEAS.
You see, I believe (and I’m not the only one, just look at the phenomenal success of the TED conferences) that our ability – both personally and collectively, in teams and organizations, in communities and societies around the world – to explore, nurture, cultivate, engage and execute the attitudes, behaviours, systems and processes that promote IDEAS are guaranteed to help us be more prepared to take on the random, uncertain, scary world of tomorrow.
Consider this; we perhaps find ourselves in a similar position to that which our forebears were 200 years ago. They gave up one form of exploration, geographical, for another, scientific. We now find ourselves on a similar precipice, where we need to creatively explore areas beyond scientific. These seem likely to be in areas beyond physical consumption into concepts such as meaning and purpose, and collaboration rather than competition.
This transition will be far from easy, mainly because it won’t be on the terms of those businesses, societies and individuals who were able to thrive in an industrial age. The engines of this new area will be passion, balance, imagination, individual talent, networks of purpose, flexibility and shared equity.
And we cannot adapt to this new environment through marginal changes.
Much as the early explorers were, our ideas need to be amazingly agile, flexible, big, challenging, wondrous. We need to set off to find things that we suspect exist, locate them and bring them back home. To do this we need to find not only new ways of working, but ways of unlearning some of the things we have relied on in the past.
Excuse me Mrs Shackleton, can Ernest come out to play?
It’s been ages since I last blogged – mainly ‘cos (a) I didn’t really know what to say or why, and (b) cos i’ve been busy writing albums, composing for films, acting and oh, yes, running around causing mayhem in organisations around the world. But i’m back now. And raring to go.
It seems strangely apt that my first new blog is today, the day that the world learned of the tragic death of actor and comedian Robin Williams. Apt because on hearing the news this morning, I cried (yes i’m one of those sensitive types) and was immediately transported back to his beautiful performance as Dr John Keating in Dead Poets Society.
“The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – – Carpe – – hear it? – – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
Apt because what I want to talk about in my weekly blogs are the things that set me on fire, things like Play. Possibility. Creativity. Potential. Talent. Innovation. Adventure. Passion. Exploration. Discovery.
Apt because these were some of the beautiful things that Robin Williams brought to this world and, in doing so, enriched our lives forever.
Apt also because these are the things that bring us, our families, our schools, our communities, our teams and our organisations to life too, yet we so readily ignore them, squander them, trade them to the relentless taskmaster of time and money, where we stay small, doing jobs we hate to buy all that shit that we don’t need.
I want to write about how you CAN – no, scrap that – you MUST learn to embrace these things in order to thrive in this new world of ours that changes second by second.
I thank you oh captain Robin Williams, for inspiring me and millions of others. And I leave you all with one thought to consider before I set out on my journey to extraordinary-ness;
“That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”
I was ten years old when I went on my first ever holiday abroad. Mum and Dad had saved for years to take us to Playa de Palma in Majorca, Spain in the spring of ‘86. There were so many things there that widened my eyes forever. The exquisite Cathedral at Palma that seemed to stretch up infinitely, the warmth on my face of real Mediterranean sunshine, the enormous Hotel we stayed in and it’s lovely pool and, of course, the bronzed and topless twenty-something women on the beach (the first glance of which caused me to stub my toe on the kerb and fall on my face.)
One of the other revelations of my holiday in May of 1986 was the music they played. It was, and I’ve thought but I just can’t put it any other way, DREADFUL. What is now familiar to me as ‘euro trash’ music was everywhere and even at the tender age of ten it drove me insane. Well, with the exception of one tune; although this one was pure euro trash too, it was so catchy in it’s awfulness that it actually grew on me. And grew and grew. And it wasn’t just me either, because when we got back to the UK I couldn’t believe that it was number 1 in the charts (and, as it turned out, top of the billboard charts in the USA too.) The song? ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ by Falco. Do you remember it? “Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus, Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus, Amadeus Amadeus, Oh Oh Oh Amadeus, a come and rock me Amadeus…..” Hmm.
‘David, pleeeeeeease don’t tell me that you’re going to suggest Falco changed the world through music’ I hear you say. Well, not exactly, no. But what the song did do for me (and for many I guess), was introduce me to the bloke they were singing about. ‘Who is this Amadeus dude Dad?’ ‘Well, son, it’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’. ‘Who?’ and there you go. It’s the funniest things that can introduce us to greatness. And so, we arrive at the real subject of this blog.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was undoubtedly one of the most influential musical figures of all time and a man who really did change the world. Yes, through his music, which was, and is, some of the most astounding, beautiful and groundbreaking ever heard. But it was so very much more than that. So, as with all of the characters in my blog, I want to look through the veil of just the astounding musical output, to the attitudes, beliefs, skills and courage that allowed him to truly inspire change using the universal language of music.
Mozart was a cultural liberator and a true trailblazer, who pretty much single handedly pioneered Musical Independence. What I mean by this is he showed the musicians of his time (the 18th century) – all of who were attached to specific households and were regarded in the same way a household servant was – that they didn’t need to live that way anymore. He believed that musicians could be independent entrepreneurs and work for themselves, allowing them to have their own opinions and be free to express themselves politically, musically, and socially. To free themselves from the restrictions of the ‘house’ they belonged to if you like. But rather than just posturing or theorising or talking about this as a concept, Mozart did it himself to show it could be done. He led by example. He had the balls to do instead of just talk and, in doing so became the first of what we would now call a ‘freelance’ composer, living by sheer talent & savvy wit alone.
It’s critical to understand at this point too that it would have been so much easier for Mozart not to do it, to just sit on the fence and theorise. And it would have been a huge amount safer too, as Prince Archbishop Colloredo, the tyrannical royal and religious leader in Saltzberg in the late 18th century (and ‘master of the house’ that Mozart was attached to) was greatly opposed to Mozart’s views and met them with many social and personal threats to his safety. But, big M was having none of it. He did it anyway. He stood by his beliefs and although, ultimately, he ended up in a state of compromise toward his later years having taken so many risks in the name of freedom of expression, his guts, his courage and his conviction to stand in his power really did ‘change the world’. One of a million examples of how he did so would be Beethoven; you see, without Mozart’s trailblazing in this area of musical independence, the social stubbornness that Beethoven chose to live by in Vienna would surely have cut his career very short indeed.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, I salute you not just as one of the most incredible and innovative composers of all time, but as a visionary, a trailblazer and a man of extraordinary bottle, willing to challenge the status quo and change things.
And to think, without that daft song in 1986, I might well have missed all of that. So, thanks Falco. Amadeus certainly rocks me. Does he rock you too? Here’s a little link to memory lane for those who want to indulge in a bit of eurocheese. And here’s one for those that don’t.
See you next time