One of my favorite pieces of wisdom at the World Domination Summit in 2011 came from a surprising source. When I met John T. Unger at the opening party he was sort of ricocheting off of the buzzing energy of the crowd. Buoyant and quick to laugh, I struck me that this was a man who knew how to have fun. What I didn’t know was this was also a guy who knew how to make fun out of the most disastrous of situations. Here’s what John taught us about harnessing the power of disaster at WDS 2011.
Can trouble be a friend of yours?
How to harness the power of disaster.
John T. Unger works with fire. Blow torches are the tools of his trade. The man literally plays with fire! And while John says he doesn’t invite trouble into his life, his there’s-no-stopping-art attitude does tend to take him into trouble inducing situations — like renting dilapidated studios with collapsing roofs. Needless to say, this daredevil has has his share of disaster. So what do you do when you find yourself in a spot of trouble? Here are John’s tips in a nutshell.
Re-define “Emergency.” Emergencies are only emergencies if that’s what you name them. Try “challenge,” “creativity opportunity,” or “a bend in the road” to help you re-frame the situation.
Get Grounded. Remember the earthbenders from the first crib sheet? When the unexpected happens, tap into your earth-energy, or call on an earthbender friend to get their perspective on the situation.
Turn that Frown Upside Down. John pointed out that when trouble strikes, it’s helpful to look at things upside down for a new perspective. (Artists tend to do this anyway, so if you wear creative lenses, you’re in luck!) In times of disaster ask yourself. “how can I use this force and turn things around? Tip: Start by not panicking.
At the close of John’s WDS session, Jamie Ridler turned to me and said something that went straight to my heart:
“Taking a risk is not the same as being at risk.”
When trouble strikes, it doesn’t mean your entire existence is at risk. You need to take risks to make art, build your own business, fall in love, or build a family. That means there will be bumps in the road. Approach those opportunities with the techniques listed above, and Trouble will be your friend in no time.
What about you, Magpies? Do you have a story about a time when you hired the power of disaster? Testify! We need to be inspired by your story, because “there ain’t nowhere to go, but together.”