Are you prolific? Pablo Picasso was. He is said to have produced 40 to 50 THOUSAND works of art!! How about you?
But the even deeper question is: Why am I writing this article? Why do I care about being prolific while you don’t?
We’ll answer that in a minute, but first, let’s take a look at what it means to be prolific.
To be prolific means to produce an obscene amount of work.
So if you’re an artist, you put out a lot of paintings. If you’re a writer, you put out a lot of books. If you’re an entrepreneur, you start a lot of companies. If you’re a golfer, you play in a lot of tournaments. If you’re a stripper, you give a lot of lap dances. Don’t judge, I live in Vegas
How about you? Do you actually ship lots of stuff? How many projects have you completed in your life so far? Interesting… Some food for thought, eh?
But now, a caveat. There is a big difference between working long or hard, and being prolific. If fact, I see many cases of people working long and hard but not being prolific. To be prolific you have to work towards some creative objective. It could be a something tangible like a novel, or more abstract like a public speaking career.
Stephen King is prolific. The Beatles were prolific. Pablo Picasso was prolific. Isaac Asimov was prolific. Walt Disney was prolific. Tom Cruise is prolific. Apple is prolific. All of them are prolific because they put out product. Lots and lots of product over many, many years.
What would your life feel like if you shipped more product? Would you feel more financially secure? Would you feel more proud? Would you feel less depressed? Would you have more autonomy at work?
What You Could Be Missing
Prolific people can achieve levels of happiness and success that few of us dream of. And that’s what I want for you, and what I want for myself.
If you study the biographies of the great genius creators of the last several hundred years – people like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Walt Disney, Pablo Picasso, Steve Jobs, Tiger Woods, Steven Spielberg – one common denominator quickly stands out: they all produced a lot of stuff. There is a clear correlation between being world-class, being on purpose, and producing a lot of work. In fact, I would go so far as to say that those three things are joined at the hip.
More importantly, though, these genius creators loved their work. Actually, “loving your work” doesn’t do the idea justice. “Love” is such an overused word. Instead, think of it as a whole new kind of peak experience: a combination of flow, pride, and peace… the kind of satisfaction most of us barely touch.
Think about that! You are missing out on a unique, peak experience of life, just like the thrill of skydiving, drugs, or amazing sex, except even better, because creative satisfaction is a clean high that can never be fully sated.
Quantity vs. Quality
At this point you might be saying, “Okay, Leo. I get it! Creative people are productive, but isn’t quality better than quantity?”
True, quality is important, but it’s not an either/or choice. In fact, quality work is an advanced state reached through quantity of work.
As an ancient Chinese saying goes, If you read a book a thousand times, you’re bound to understand it. The same principle applies with your work. When you publish 10 novels, when you star in 10 movies, when you win 10 tournaments, when you start 10 businesses, or when you paint 10,000 paintings… your work can’t help but get good. Many imperfections will simply auto-correct, so you can safely focus on quantity.
Of course, I’m not saying you should be motivated by quantity. No. No one great thinks like that. Instead, their drive comes from wanting to create a beautiful and excellent thing. Notice, “thing” is in the singular. Then, it just so happens that because they get so much satisfaction out of creating one thing really well, they end up producing another, and another, and another. Presto! Now you have quantity AND quality.
So the solution here is NOT to tell yourself that you have to be doing more work. The real solution is to change your psychology to that of a person who loves putting beauty and excellent out into the world. Then you will be happy working on the immediate next thing, without worrying about quantity, but counter-intuitively, ensuring that you get both quantity and quality in the end! It’s a sneaky, counter-intuitive, but time-tested strategy.
To boil this all down, being prolific is just a measure of how much you love your work. So if you aren’t prolific, that tells me a lot about how great your life can really feel. You are simply missing out on life, like a 40 year old virgin.
The Win-Win-Win Trifecta
The thing I love the most about my prescription to be more prolific is that it’s a win-win-win:
1. You get deep satisfaction from being in flow and expressing your talents, and…
2. You position yourself to earn the most amount of money you possibly can, and…
3. The world gets to benefit the most from your talents!
Yes, yes, yes! I want ALL three, not just one. I am not going to settle for one.
Too often the pursuit of a Life Purpose is down-played by others, and even your subconscious, as a “luxury” – something that would be nice in an ideal world, but too impractical and idealistic for the REAL world.
No, no, no! As sober and prudent as this wisdom sounds, get it out of your mind right now. If you try to be realistic, you will be average.
To position yourself so that you can produce tons of work, by doing the thing you absolutely love and that’s aligned with your highest values, is the best money-making strategy. Why? Because if you don’t commit yourself 100%, and you don’t love the work enough, you will simply quit before you become successful. If you have a tendency to start and quit projects, that’s a sure sign that you haven’t figured out your true purpose.
Worrying about making ends meet and being secure and not putting yourself and your creative talents out into the world, is the path to mediocrity. That’s the easy route. Being conservative is psychologically easy. There is no emotional labor there. It’s the route everyone takes and it’s the reason mediocrity and “average” exist. I don’t know about you, but the last time I checked, average is far below what I want for my life. I don’t want average. I want exceptional! I want amazing! I want extraordinary! And so should you.
What You Should Do Now
First, acknowledge to yourself that you want to be prolific. This alone can be a big inner shift.
If you are still unconvinced, then sit down and brainstorm a way to convince yourself of its personal important to you. Find a high-quality reason for being prolific. For me, I want to be prolific because I love creating beautiful things. That’s it! It is an end in itself. This connects me to source. I also want to live to my full potential and bask in a very consistent, high-quality feeling of flow. This is a vision worth bleeding for, at least for me. How about you?
Second, get clear about your life purpose. Commit to your purpose 100%. If you aren’t clear about it yet, that’s okay, you are where you are, but seek out help via books, seminars, audio and video programs, coaching, mentoring, or taking time off to reflect.
Third, once you have your purpose, recommit to hitting it HARD! Draw up a very BIG, VIVID vision of what exactly you are fighting for and why.
And lastly, go out there and fight! Show us what you got. Produce your work. Be prolific!