Bob Baker's Artist Empowerment Blog

Tall, Dark and Brooding: Do You Have to Be Depressed to Be Creative?

There's a notion that the most influential artists, writers and musicians are often plagued with depression, moodiness and other battles with internal demons. Some people (many of them artists themselves) think that this mental friction actually fuels their creativity.

Well, according to a researcher quoted in the December 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine, that may not be true. In Bill Breen's article, The 6 Myths of Creativity, he interviews Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School. Over an eight-year period, Amabile and her team collected thousands of journal entries from hundreds of people working on creative projects in seven companies in the consumer products, high-tech and chemical industries.

Sure, this research isn't focused on the fine artists, music makers, aspiring writers, etc., who read this blog. But I think it's revealing and applies to creative people in all fields. Here's a quote from the article:
"We found that creativity is positively associated with joy and love and negatively associated with anger, fear, and anxiety. The entries show that people are happiest when they come up with a creative idea, but they're more likely to have a breakthrough if they were happy the day before. There's a kind of virtuous cycle. When people are excited about their work, there's a better chance that they'll make a cognitive association that incubates overnight and shows up as a creative idea the next day. One day's happiness often predicts the next day's creativity."
Perhaps the best way to unleash your creativity is ... don't worry, be happy :-)

Do Your Part to Help Tsunami Victims

This may be off topic, but the recent tsunami disaster is just too significant to overlook. While many are criticizing the Bush administration for its slow response to the tragedy, many companies and countless individuals are stepping up to donate money to the historic relief effort. For an overview, MSNBC and CBS each have a news story on current tsunami relief activities.

You may not be able to help in person, but you can make a donation to any number of organizations that are actively involved. Check out this Google page of tsunami information and donation links. You can also donate to the American Red Cross via this page at, which has raised more than $5 million as of this writing.

Maybe an unthinkable disaster like this will help us all realize that we really are all one.

Ten Tips on Setting & Reaching Your Goals

Ready to make the most of your creativity in 2005? To help you rev up your ambition engine, I'm sharing this great article from Gary Ryan Blair, also known as the Goals Guy.

Ten Mind Munchies from the Goals Guy

1. A goal is created three times. First as a mental picture. Second, when written down to add clarity and dimension. And third, when you take action towards its achievement.

2. Focus creates a powerful force: goal power. The moment you focus on a goal, your goal becomes a magnet, pulling you and your resources toward it. The more focused your energies, the more power you generate. There is a seismic shift in performance that takes place when you move from decisiveness to focus. The shift is caused, enhanced, and accelerated by the intensity of your focus.

3. If how you play or perform were all that mattered, then why do all sporting activities have some form of scoreboard? Keeping score and inspecting your progress is important, not only in determining the ultimate winner of a contest, but also as a measuring device by which a person, team or company can gauge itself against the competition.

4. Nothing of any lasting value was ever created by someone who was reasonable. It is the unreasonable people, those discontented with the status quo, the dreamers and visionaries who nevertheless have their feet planted firmly on solid ground who improve people's lives and advance society.

5. From eureka to achievement, the evolution of a goal begins in the mind and immediately takes shape when pen is put to paper. The goal progresses from thought to sketch, from sketch to action, and finally from action to achievement in real time. The achievement of a goal is an exemplary tale of power, purpose, and potential.

6. The essence of success is a narrow focus. You become stronger, your vision clearer, your resolve deeper when you reduce the scope of your options. You can’t stand for something if you chase everything.

7. Why you want to achieve a goal is more important than the goal itself. Before taking action on anything it is imperative that you ask yourself this key question: "Why do I want to achieve this goal?"

8. The success of your life is not measured by one extraordinary achievement but by the consistency by which you go about all matters.

9. The truth will prevail, one way or another and usually sooner rather than later. It is better to face facts and reality at the planning phase, and to convince others to do the same. This is not for the sake of building character or maintaining mortality. It is a matter of survival. Whether or not you face it, truth will create consequences!

10. There will never be a day that will not require dedication, discipline, good judgment, energy, and the feeling that you can improve. Each day offers an opportunity for improvement. Each moment an advance or retreat in the pursuit of your goals.

Gary Ryan Blair is President of The GoalsGuy. A visionary and gifted conceptual thinker, Gary is highly regarded as a speaker, consultant, strategic planner, and coach to leading companies throughout the globe. Visit The GoalsGuy at

What Two Superstars Say About Self-Doubt

According to Dustin Hoffman, you're not so special. What do I mean? Let me explain ...

When Hoffman was a guest on the Today show some months ago, host Matt Lauer asked him about working with veteran actor Gene Hackman on a new film. Lauer was surprised when Hoffman admitted that, after finishing the film, the two seasoned actors wondered if they'd ever work again. When pressed, Hoffman explained that many successful movie stars have that sense of self-doubt all the time.

"After years of waiting tables and being rejected at auditions when you're just getting started, you wonder if you're really good enough or if anyone will ever hire you," said Hoffman, who explained how that fear never completely goes away -- even after decades of award-winning work.

So if you have doubts about whether your creative career will ever take off the way you want, don't think you have a monopoly on doubt and insecurity. You're not special in that regard. When you're struggling (or when you perceive that you're struggling), it can seem like everyone else has been given a secret code for success and you're the only one who's still clueless.

Just realize that this is a fear that artists at all levels experience -- no matter how secure they may seem on the outside.

That doesn't mean you have to welcome and encourage self-doubt. Confidence in your creativity and operating from a sense of "knowing" that you're on the right path is the state of mind you should always aspire to.

But when the nagging voice of insecurity begins sounding, accept it for what it is, realize that you're not alone ... then brush it gently aside and get back to busily pursuing your artistic goals.

How Do You 'Unleash' Your Talents?

Let's talk about artist empowerment -- one of my favorite topics lately ...

Not long ago I presented one of my first Unleash the Artist Within workshops. While promoting the event, I discovered that different people have different interpretations of what it means to "unleash" themselves as an artist.

Many people assumed at first that the workshop was about developing your creativity, along the lines of Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way. Some of what I talk about does relate to giving yourself permission to create and feeling worthy to do so, but my definition of "unleash" is more far-reaching than that.

What do I mean by "Unleash the Artist Within"? Well, I believe that to be a successful creative person, you must be willing to ...

  • Unleash your creative leanings, artistic inclinations and natural talents. Yes, exercising your creativity has many benefits. For one, it's personally rewarding. Denying yourself the opportunity to write, perform and create can lead to stagnation and frustration. By feeding and answering the call of your creative urges, you improve the quality of your own life while enriching the world with your talents.
  • Unleash your potential to create something of beauty or significance. When you take action on your creative interests, you bring your ideas to life. Too many people only dream about their artistic desires and never see their talents materialize. When you "unleash the artist within," you transform your ideas into a tangible form that can be enjoyed, experienced and shared. And that's a powerful thing.
  • Unleash your belief in yourself. While you're busy unleashing, be sure to set free your confidence, desire, optimism and enthusiasm. Many creative people are plagued by fear and doubt. It's no wonder, with all the misguided "struggling artist" advice heaped on creative people. Don't buy into it. Your fears are self-imposed. So brush the self-doubt aside and choose to let your belief in yourself shine through.
  • Unleash your creative gifts and your artistic contribution to the world. Indulging in your art and being recognized for your talents feels good. It's this personal reward that draws most people to the arts in the first place. However, I believe the most successful creative people quickly evolve and begin putting more emphasis on the benefits they deliver to fans. Making an artistic contribution and sharing your unique talents should be the ultimate thing that drives you. And, interestingly, putting a priority on your fans leads to more personal satisfaction for you.
  • Unleash your worthiness to receive and be rewarded for your creative contributions. I also believe that empowered artists go through three stages: 1) Creating for themselves. 2) Creating for the benefit of others. And 3) Creating for profit. But many people get hung up on #3. To truly "unleash the artist within" you must know that making money with your talents is not only acceptable, it's part of the abundant nature of the universe. You have something of value to offer, and you deserve to be rewarded for your contribution to the world.

To hammer home these thoughts on why it's important to "unleash," let me share a great quote from Patanjali, who is credited with founding the philosophy of yoga more than 2,000 years ago:

"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be."

Think about that as you contemplate your rightful place in the arts.

Be-Do-Have: The Three-Step Success Formula

Last year I read the book The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hanson and Robert Allen. One of the book's prosperity principles is stated simply as "Be-Do-Have" -- an approach to life that too few people take.

The best way to explain this formula is to show you how most creative people (and humans in general) do things: backwards. They set a material goal, such as "I want to write a best-selling book." Then they think, "If I could only HAVE a best-selling book, then I could DO the things a best-selling author does, then I would BE the successful author I want to be." You can easily insert "in-demand artist," "Grammy-winning songwriter" and more into this misguided Have-Do-Be equation.

Unfortunately, these people are working contrary to the laws of success and prosperity. First, you must BE the "successful artist" you want to be. And you must believe it and "know" it to the core. Success is not something you go and get; it's not a destination you reach. It's something that resides inside of you -- a quality you bring to everything you do.

If you want to be a songwriter, BE a songwriter. If you want to be an actor, BE an actor ... first. Then with that inner compass as a guide, DO the things that a successful songwriter (or artist, actor, etc.) does. BE and DO those things long enough and you will eventually HAVE (or manifest) the material symbols of success you desire.

This might sound like New Age babble to some, but I believe it's a solid philosophy -- one that's helped propel most of my accomplishments in life.

Try this: Close your eyes and project yourself five years into the future. Imagine that your ideal artistic career has unfolded and that you've reached a stage that you consider extremely successful. Really visualize that you've arrived at this point.

If this high level of success was your reality, how would you act? How would you carry yourself? How would you treat others? How much energy would you pour into creating more art and satisfying your large and growing fan base? How confident would you be contacting other successful artists, producers, etc.? How much would you go out of your way to help good up-and-coming creative people? How content would you feel?

Now let me ask you: How does that vision compare to the way you act, feel and carry yourself now? If there's a drastic difference, look inward and realize that you're made of the same stuff as every successful person. You have as much right as anyone to embrace your own dreams.

So take that feeling of success you would feel five years from now and bring it to the present. Start having that sense of success now. Play the part, develop that all-important sense of knowing, BE who you are.

And ... before you DO any more, and certainly before you HAVE what you want, focus on BEing the type of successful creative person you know you're destined to be!