Arête or The Pursuit of Excellence

top half 4 apples, 3 of them are b/w, bottom half logo and title card

Pursuing Excellence Create Art Podcast Style

In the pursuit of excellence, I am pushing myself to higher and more transparent levels. My wife gave me a box of cards for the holidays in 2022. I was puzzled because they were creativity cards and I thought, what the heck is this, I don’t need creativity cards. Well, folks, I was wrong and I will be attempting to do a card a week and record an episode each week about how I am utilizing the card I draw every week. If you decide to pick up a deck and do these let me know.

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What is Arête or The Pursuit of Excellence?

From Wikipedia

In its earliest appearance in Greek, this general notion of excellence was ultimately bound up with the notion of the fulfillment of purpose or function: the act of living up to one’s full potential. A person of arete is of the highest effectiveness; they use all of their faculties—strength, bravery, and wit—to achieve real results. In the Homeric world, arete involves all of the abilities and potentialities available to humans. Though particularly associated with ‘manly’ qualities,[1] the Homeric usage of the term was not necessarily gender specific, as Homer applied the term to both the Greek and Trojan heroes as well as major female figures, such as Penelope, the wife of the Greek hero Odysseus. In the Homeric poemsarete is frequently associated with bravery, but more often with effectiveness.

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[00:00:18] Hello friends. This is Timothy Kim O’Brien, your head instigator for Create Art Podcast, where I take my over 20 years in arts and education and help you. Tame your inner critic and create more than you consume. So at the time of this recording, it’s 2023 and I gotta say my wife got me a great Christmas gift last year in 2022.
[00:00:48] She got me this deck of cards and it’s not a normal deck of cards. It’s called Kickstart Creativity. 50 prompted cards to Spark Inspiration, and it’s by Bonnie Smith White House. And I’m sure we’ll have links to this where you can get it in the show notes. So with Kickstart Creativity cards, there are the action cards.
[00:01:17] Which offers an opportunity to experiment or play with a surprising joy-inducing method? Sure. To stretch your creative muscles, each card suggests and briefly describes a specific action. There are also perspective cards, which are green, and they reveal a fresh mindset, a different lens, or an illuminating way of viewing one’s work of the work you have before you.
[00:01:45] Creative spirits, past and present will often be invoked on perspective, pers perspective cards. And then intention cards invoke a deeper service value, significance, or meaning to which you and your work can aspire. . Now you can, you know, draw one card at a time and if you do that, just, you know, draw any card as a daily or a weekly practice or, you know, draw one when you need a quick hit of inspiration.
[00:02:24] You could draw two cards. Draw paired juxtapositions. . And how they do it is, you know, like a red and blue card or a blue and green card or however. And that I actually know you have to draw an action card in one intention card and it could help you or your collaborators imagine how a project could aspire to serve your community or world on a deeper level.
[00:02:52] Or you can draw three cards. And you divide the deck into action, perspective, and intention. You draw one from each pile and you construct a narrative action, perspective, and intention for the work you are doing or for the path ahead. . So what am I gonna do with this? Well, I’m gonna try to do it once a week and I’m going to, I’m gonna read off the card to you, see what it’s all about, and then I’ll do my commentary on it and let you know what I think about it.
[00:03:26] So here is today’s card. All right, so today’s card is an intention card. So it’s a blue card, and the word for today is, and I’m probably gonna mispronounce it, but it’s a harita a r e with a little thing up top, t e. And that is, it’s an ancient Greek ideal of pursuing excellence. And what the cart says is when a person or a thing embodies its full potential, that is arte, but excellence.
[00:04:06] Should not be confused with perfection. Excellence is the commitment to strive to be diligent and undeterred. Furthermore, we are called not only to recognize the potential for excellence in thems in ourselves but to look for this potential in others as well. Now, there are three things with this. The first thing is to construct a list of people who seem to.
[00:04:36] Striving towards excellence. Make a note of why each person inspires you.
[00:04:46] So that’s what I want to do here. First is a list of people that inspire me and why each of them inspires me. So with this whole pursuit of excellence, the first one that comes to mind is actually Chris Chris demos of the pod fest conference down in Orlando, Florida. And why am I picking him?
[00:05:15] Well, here’s the thing. He has a certain way about it. And well, long story short is, well, it’s gonna be a long story
[00:05:32] this certain way about him. I met him, and gosh, it was like 2017. Yes, it was 2017 at DC Pod Fest, and I had just two weeks prior, previously getting neck surgery. And my throat was just torn up from the floor up and my voice was horrible. And he was doing a. he was promoting his conference at the conference, but I, I walked up to him and I talked to him as best I could and, you know, kind of told him, you know, Hey, I’m a newbie kind of podcaster and I’m a new person and you know, da da da, da da.
[00:06:16] And he, he sat there and he talked with me as best as I could talk. And then the next time I saw him was at At Map Con that next year in 2018 September, I believe, 2018. And he remembered me and he remembered, you know, I talked to him about my kids and what I was doing and asked about my neck and then he when the pandemic hit, he took his conference online.
[00:06:47] He wasn’t the first one to do that. Joe Paro was, and I’ll talk about him in a second, but he was, you know one of the biggies that, hi, his conference was the last one, the last big one before the pandemic hit. And he took it. And he’s got this whole team behind him. Now, I’ve never been to Pod Fest, pod fest in person at the time of this recording, and I’m recording it in January of 20 23.
[00:07:20] So he, he took it online, and from what I understand, the feeling from the in-person was the feeling that he got online and his warmth and personality really came out. And, you know, he would message me you know, kind of in the background and go, Hey, how are you doing? And, and I’m sitting there going, there’s.
[00:07:45] Literally 5,000 people here, and you remember me there, 5,300, however many it was. And yeah you know, he, he remembered me and I was blown away by that. So I had gone to a, a few of his online things online conferences and you know, I hope by the time that that. that you hear this it’ll be, you know, wow.
[00:08:10] Probably’s not gonna be till 2024. When I will go to his conference, I’m working towards that goal. But one of the things he did was you know, do a book called Start Ugly. And now I’d already been podcasting. For a long time before that book came out, but I got the book, I bought the book and it really, I wanna say I got really interested in podcasting about 20 16, 20 17.
[00:08:45] I got really serious about it and then when I read that book, I got really serious about podcasting on a bigger. And so I started ugly with one company and I moved to another company and started ugly there too. And you know, it, it worked and it led to some really great things. So, you know, I, I try to, I am myself.
[00:09:17] I am who I am. Sometimes I’m a mean angry bear. Sometimes I am an extrovert that just hates people. But I try to embody his warmth, his personality, and his presence to be there in the moment. And if that moment’s a year later, he’s back in that same moment with you. So that’s something that I find is striving for excellence and I want to do more of that.
[00:09:48] The other person I’m gonna talk about is Joe Paro otherwise known as Super Joe Paro. and similar story to him. He’s, he runs podcast conferences,s and uh, he’s got a couple of podcasts of his own. And he, you know, heard about this podcasting thing and, you know, on a flight he drew up his logo. He’s, you know, he came up with a name for the podcast and, and he ran.
[00:10:12] And he’s done, you know, pretty well for himself. He’s, he’s, a big name in the industry of podcasting. So on this side of the mic, you know, a lot of people know him on the other side of the mic, you know, on, on your side. You may not know him, but he had that same determination that, you know people can say, oh, this is a fad.
[00:10:34] It’s going nowhere. Or, you have no business being here. You don’t have the experience to be. He doesn’t care. He just goes for it. He’s an entrepreneur. And I, I love that entrepreneurial spirit of, Hey, we’re just gonna go for it and we’re gonna see you know, we’re gonna believe in it, we’re gonna make it happen.
[00:10:52] And now has everything both of these guys have done been perfect? No, you know Chris starts ugly. Joe just sees the super in everybody. So these are two folks that, you know, I look at and I see ’em striving towards excellence and I take notes of each person. The next part of this card says to look around your immediate surroundings and pay homage to an object in your life that embodies excellence.
[00:11:30] And so what? I’m honoring the object in my life that embodies excellence, this whole podcasting thing. It challenges me and when I first started in 2006, it really challenged me. And I, I wasn’t serious about it. I was just thinking, oh, well people will find it and love it and you know, they’ll be as weird as I am and we’ll all go on a merry way.
[00:12:00] And that didn’t happen because I didn’t put the work into it. As I said earlier, about 20 16, 20 17, I got serious about podcasting and I learned more about it and., and I thought, you know, let me put some work into this. Let me really put, you know, some thought behind it. And then towards the end of 2019, I really wanted to push podcasting into where I worked and it just didn’t work out with that job.
[00:12:32] So the next job that I got, one of the reasons they hired me is cuz I know how to podcast. and it took some time for people to, you know, change their minds and everything. And they really did. They changed their mind. And now the company that I’m with, we’re doing a lot of podcasting. and almost too much.
[00:12:56] And hopefully I get to change job titles there and be the full-time co-podcaster producer voiceover actor. What ha whatever they have me do, I don’t care. I’ll sweep out the stuff. I don’t care. But that’s what I’m paying homage to is that I’ve been an artist for a long. , but I’ve really put in a lot of hours and a lot of work, and a lot of heart, and a lot of sweat, and a lot of tears, and a little bit of blood, and who knows how much money.
[00:13:30] We’re not even gonna think about that. , but this is something that I’ve really worked hard towards. Now, my, my, my graduate degree, did I work hard towards that? Oh, don’t, yes, yes, I did. I worked my fingers to the bone. I walked uphill to school both ways. Barefoot in the snow, being chased by wolves over nails.
[00:13:55] I don’t know. I worked hard for that. But I also have been working very hard on podcasts. and it’s worked out pretty well. I’m in your ear right now, so that works for me.
[00:14:13] Then the last part of the card says Is also related to valor. . And before I get to that it’s a Greek word. If I’m terribly mispronouncing it, shoot me an email, Timothy create Arc podcast, and let me know that I’m saying it wrong and correct me, please. I appreciate that. But it’s this word is also related to valor.
[00:14:40] What Brave move could you make right now that would put you on a path toward the most excellent version of yourself?
[00:14:54] So I have pretty much already done that brave move, and that is really pushing it at my day job to turn my day job. Into being a podcaster, being a full-time podcaster, and telling the stories of the people that I work with to the, our entire, you know, workforce and to the external workforce that doesn’t know everything that we do for the place that I work for.
[00:15:31] So that took a lot of guts and there’s risks risk to it. If it doesn’t work out, then what am I gonna do? It, it’s not as much risk as entre entrepreneurs like geo Parto or Chris . I mean, if, if they fall flat on their face, oh, it hurts. For me, the job that I. Yeah, if the podcasting doesn’t, you know doesn’t go through and doesn’t take off I’m okay because I’ve pretty much got a guaranteed job where I’m at pretty much guaranteed, not a hundred percent.
[00:16:08] I really gotta mess up to not have it work out, but my company is known for moving very slow, so I think I’ll, I’ll be fine. , but there are some risks to it, you know? I would have to go back into w you know,, my current job title right now and, you know, would I want to go back into that? You know, would I go to other branches of this company that I work for and, and, risk it there and start?
[00:16:40] You know, for however long, you know, I need to start over so there is some risk to it and my bold move is pushing in all my chips and going, let’s do it. So, you know, I need to impress them fairly quickly with what I can do and what my skills are. I’m going to have to show them all the work that I’ve put in since 2006.
[00:17:08] And especially since, you know, 20 16, 20 17, and especially since 2019, I’ve put in a lot of work for this. So I’m crossing my fingers and I hope it’s gonna happen. I’m gonna do everything that I can do to make it happen.
[00:17:31] So I definitely want to thank you for listening to my commentary on this, and I hope you pick up this deck of cards from Bonnie Smith White House. It’s called Kickstart Creativity. Let me know what you think about these. Everything will be in the show notes, so you’ll be able to see everything there.
[00:17:53] So I’m hoping you’re out there striving for excellence just like I am.
[00:18:01] While that was today’s card, I appreciate you, you know, taking a listen to this podcast and I really appreciate the time that you put into it. And I hope you appreciate the time that I put into it. I do wanna ask you a slight favor. If you got any benefit out of this, I’d ask you to go ahead and share it with a friend.
[00:18:24] You know, whatever app you’re using. If you’re on my website, you know, go ahead and give ’em the website. If you are, you know, using an app, you know, share it through your app. There are lots of different ways, lots of different apps out there, so I’m not gonna go through them. . But yeah, go ahead and share it with a friend.
[00:18:42] I don’t mind. Don’t mind at all. The other thing I’d like to ask of you is that if you have something going on in your neck of the woods or if you have, you know, a piece of art that you’re working on that I can help you out with, or if you want to get your work out there to other people, I’d be happy to interview you on this.
[00:19:08] You can email me, timothy create art and I’d be happy to get back with you and talk about it and see what we can do about that. The last thing I’m gonna ask of you, and I know I’m asking a ton and I apologize for that, but could you go ahead and email me and let me know what would make this a five-star podcast?
[00:19:36] In your eyes, I’d like to know about that. You can, you know, a lot of the apps out there, you can comment right there on the app and, and, and leave your review or all that. And by all means, go ahead and do that. Even if it’s not a five-star, if it’s a four-star, if it’s a one-star, go ahead and do that.
[00:19:56] But what I would ask you to do, please, Is to go ahead and email me. Same email address timothy create art and let me know what’s gonna make this a five-star podcast for you. Now, I’m going to release you to the rest of your day. I hope this was enjoyable for you. I know it was enjoyable for me.
[00:20:20] So go out there, tame that inner critic. Create more than you consume. And go out there and make some art for somebody you love yourself. I’ll talk to you next time.

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