Training Fleas: Will You Jump Out of The Jar?

Fleas: In The Beginning The Future is Bright

At birth, fleas are incredibly resilient. The sky is the limit.  Specifically, fleas are born with a built-in mechanism that allows them to survive and propagate its species against all odds. The flea reproduces small eggs that require a warm-blooded mammal to hatch and then when it does, it can be nourished from biting and sucking the blood of the host. This darwin like survival instinct is aided by the fleas great “athletic prowess” –   they are able to jump very high – several feet in order to land on a new “host” to feed and breed. When you consider their body size, they can jump the human equivalent of 100 yards into the air. That is pretty amazing.

How do you put a lid on the aspiration of fleas? You train them.

Training Fleas

To train them, you put the fleas in a jar. Screw the lid on, and observe. In the beginning, the fleas use their innate skill and talent to jump as high as they can, determined to get out. However, the flea keeps hitting the lid. The lid hurts and gradually the fleas stop jumping as high, jumping just high enough to fall short of the lid. When you take the lid off the jar, the flea continues to only jump high enough not to hit the lid, as it’s forever tainted by the conditioning and pain of prior limitation, the lid on the jar.

For most us, our response to life is no different.

Each and every one of us is born with the opportunity and a desire to make a difference. The scale and scope of the opportunity may differ, but that’s not the point as if each of us lived up to our individual potential the accumulated impact would be profound. So, what stops us? The lid.

The lid is the teacher that tells us we will never amount to anything.

The lid is not making the team.

The lid is not getting into the school that you just “had to get into”.

The lid is not getting an interview for your “dream job”.

The lid is that voice in our head that tells us that we aren’t good enough.

The lid is our decision to wait until we are a bit more “established” to take a leap and create the change we want to see in the world.

The lid is failure, it hurts.

The lid is fear.

The lid is the self-narrative and life experience that condition us to give up when things are hard and to stop trying to jump as high as we can.

However, for all of us, just as with the fleas, there is no lid. The lid is merely a figment of our imiganiation.  A psychological barrier that we invented.

With that as truth, the question that remains is simple:

Are you willing to try to jump out of the jar?



The Postmortem & The Infinite Task

The postmortem:

  • maybe it was because I didn’t shave
  • maybe I should have worn a blue shirt instead
  • maybe they didn’t like me
  • should I have not said that?

The feelings and thoughts that we have when things don’t go as we wished.

When our work resonates a little bit less than we desired.

The post-mortem is necessary, as it allows for reflection. Further, it is the opportunity that allows us to learn and iterate about what we could have done differently to get the outcome we desired.

However, the postmortem must be short, as it can obstruct our view of how infinite the role of the artist really is.

The commitment to doing work that matters. Work that is personal. Work that changes the receiver.

The role of the artist never ends. We always get to create again. The opportunity to refine our message. The opportunity to chart another course.

The artist lives to take the next leap.

Lives to ignore the little voice in our head that tells us that we are not ready. That it’s too soon. That we should wait for the right opportunity.

The artist wakes up every day and chooses to pick themselves because every day it is their turn to create the world they want to see.

In the connection economy, the rules are different. The person that picks themselves the most wins. The person that fails the most wins.

Because if you fail the most, that means you’ve had the opportunity to keep playing, time and time again.

The opportunity to keep creating work that matters.

The opportunity to keep creating work that is personal.

The opportunity to keep creating work that changes the receiver.

The opportunity to be an artist.

An opportunity that is before us all.

The choice is yours.