Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes!

[box options]Today’s guest post is by producer Jason Mundok from the Wood Stove House. WSH produces creative projects such as house concerts, theater events, and a weekly performing arts podcast called Around the Wood Stove. You can also find Wood Stove House on Twitter.[/box]

I had a big birthday last year. I turned 40 in September. I’ve always been a milestone guy when it comes to birthdays, but not in a big party or expensive trip kind of way; more in the introspective and reflective kind of way. A few months before that birthday I had a few life changing experiences and made a few very important realizations.

I’ll save those stories for another post, but the result was significant soul searching, deep conversations with close friends, and finally a decision to leave my very comfortable, very well paid, and very uninspiring I.T. management job to start a business focused on the performing arts.

Now, I had been a part-time or hobbyist musician all of my life, but over the years I developed a real passion for creating environments in which other artists could thrive. At the time these environments included house concerts and a podcast that featured interviews with artists. Then we began dabbling in experimental theater and developing ideas for creative educational events.

Half a year after my official change I can honestly say that the transition was absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and without question the most rewarding. The business is still in its infancy and 2012 continues to be a year of trial and error. But we’re doing it. My partners and I are working hard, refining, experimenting, testing, and moving forward. I’m still working in I.T., but now I’m a part-time independent consultant and I actually enjoy it again.

Throughout this transition I read a lot of inspiring books and blogs, like the one you’re reading now. They have all helped me significantly. I’d like to share the three most important takeaways from these resources. These are the ideas I will continue to live by into the future.

  • If you want to live a passionate and inspired life, surround yourself with others who are already doing it. And let go of relationships with those who have the opposite effect, no matter what!
  • Life requires balance. It’s extremely important to work hard and give 110%, but it’s equally important to leave space for play and rest.
  • The absolute number one path to success is to blow people away. If what you’re doing isn’t blowing people away, it’s your responsibility to tweak it until it does.

[box options]Jason’s passion is infectious. Can you feel it? I like his last statement: “if what you’re doing isn’t blowing people away, it’s your responsibility to tweak it until it does.” How are you making that happen with your creativity?[/box]

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Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • I’m at lot like you, Jason, when it comes to milestone birthdays: I’m very introspective. Turning 30 was one of those moments for me.

    As for how I’m making that happen with my creativity, I’m starting to branch out and inviting others into the creative process with me. We are launching a new devotion series in Ignite, where I invited others to actually write some of the devotions. It’s been amazing seeing something like this come together and be way better than anything I could have done alone.

    • Yeah, collaboration can be a very powerful tool, as long as you are willing to share in the creative process (good, bad AND ugly). I credit any success we’ve had so far with the Wood Stove House to the collaborative efforts between my wife, my good friend, Steve, and me. And I didn’t have any intention of bringing others in at first, it happened naturally, and I (fortunately) didn’t resist it.

  • whew, I turned 40 this year too. I like your point about surrounding yourself with passionate people. right on.

    • Thanks, Rob. It’s critical. And you get instant reciprocal energy.

  • Michael

    Well… I am past the 50 year mark and I agree with everything you’ve said- especially the importance of play and rest. I teach High School students and they keep me young (and constantly seeking creative solutions, like this blog). Thanks!

    • That’s been one of my biggest struggles (forever) – giving myself time to play and rest. I’m a doer. Even when my actions weren’t necessarily pointing in the right direction, I was still always working. My kids have helped me with that, but I admittedly have a ways to go.

  • Ashley Bovin

    I am just starting to be intentional about my creative endeavors, and I am learning how important it is to avoid those who drain your energy! It’s been so helpful to be surrounded by people who are pursuing their dreams, too…it’s one big celebration of life. I’m learning I need to work a little more on balance, and actually creating so I can blow people away. 🙂 Glad to have found this blog — looking forward to more inspiration, encouragement, and spirited discussion.

    • Amazing how infectious the energy of others can be, huh, Ashley? I’m a believer that the energy feeds off of itself in either a good or bad way, depending on your company.

  • It has been four months since I made a commitment to write. I did let go of relationships and that is a struggle in and of itself. My kids teach me about the importance of keeping fun and play in balance. I will blow people away – just not yet. What I am doing is completing the first draft. i see plenty of tweaking in my future.

    • Hi Michele…love hearing when people commit to themselves to get creative. Tweaking can be an awesome part of the process. I’ve grown to love iterative development of anything I do, watching things grow and improve. Tweak on!!!

  • Great post! You are inspiring, Jason. I would love to hear how you surround yourself with people who are living a passionate and inspired life and how you let go of relationships that aren’t like that. It seems like it would be a difficult thing to do.

    • Hi Dannon, it certainly can be daunting. In my case, last summer I made a list of all the things I was involved with: work, bands, church, social groups, etc. and I made a list of all the people I spent my time with: coworkers, friends, acquaintances, family, etc. Then I evaluated those lists (honestly!!!) to determine my level of excitement and passionate during time spent with those people or doing those things.

      As you can imagine, it was very eye opening! Of course I was also making lists of things that I was personally very passionate about (not just one thing, but as many as I could think of). I figured out who I personally knew that was also passionate about those types of things, who was passionate about what they were doing, whether or not it crossed into my areas of passion, and who I didn’t know but were already living the dream, so to speak.

      From there it was clear what I had to do, and I just needed the courage to do it. So I leaned on the passionate people for advice and help. I stayed clear of the non-passionate people and I didn’t mention any of my ideas to them at all. I didn’t necessarily “break up” with any of my old friends, I just focused all of my energy on the “right” relationships, people I knew already and people I was seeking out. Eventually, time was spent where energy was focused. Old relationships began to fade and new ones strengthened. (there’s only so much time in the day, right?)

      Each week I took steps away from the old and toward the new, evaluating each step for how excited I was about it. Was it aligned with my vision? Am I loving it? Am I giving as much as I’m receiving?

      The result is really a completely different life 12 months later. Yeah, there are still remnants of the past, and there are still plenty of people I knew then that I spend time with now, but I see how they were the passionate ones. I have a new job, my own business, a new band, and I have cut out all responsibilities and commitments that didn’t make the cut. And I’m stoked each and every day about what I’m doing with my time.

      One of the biggest hurdles is feeling guilty about breaking ties and commitments, because you think that you’ll screw over the people who depend on you for those things. Well, looking back I have to say that everyone has survived just fine. I gave proper notice and honest reasons for every change I made, and the world kept on spinning as you’d expect.

      So, that’s a bit more of my story. Sorry for the long winded response, but I just couldn’t stop typing 🙂