138 - What you can control


Hello and welcome to the The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. Thank you for subscribing to our weekly podcast, where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from all different career levels and insight and inspiration episodes. All with the intention you’ll get what you need to get your creative projects started and, more importantly, finished.

I’m your host Tucker and this week is about control

In last week’s episode we talked with animator Andrew Ford. Part of that conversation he talked about finally reaching his goal of getting to Disney to work on feature films. He said that even though that was the goal he really didn’t have much control over whether it actually happened or not. They might not be hiring animators. They might only be hiring local talent. You may not know anyone in Disney who can stand up for you. Even now that he’s there and would like to continue working on projects he doesn’t really have control being from Canada he may have work Visa issues. They may not need as much staff. 

So, his goal now is to just improve his skills. To learn from all the awesome talent at Disney and hone his craft. Because that is what his has control over.

I’ve been recently attending a monthly songwriters group. One of the organizers is a songwriter named Troy Kokol. After our last meeting I overheard Troy talking with another songwriter who’s been writing and performing performing for a while but hasn’t gotten the traction he feels he should. To summarize Troy’s advice - Keep writing. Keep singing. Keep working with others. Keep building relationships. Keep doing it. Because that’s what you can control. You can’t control if you get a song on the radio. You can’t control if an artist decides to record your song. The only thing you can control is how good your skills are and how you nurture your relationships.

So that was two instances of people talking about focusing on what you can control with in a week. I was like “Wow, that would actually make good topic for the podcast. I’ll add it to the list for later.”

Then a couple days later I’m reading a blog post by independent country artist Blake Berglund and there is a point in there about learning what you can control. So that was three times in less than two weeks so  here’s the episode.   

Blake’s article was titled How To Enjoy The Grind. It’s an 11 point list of how to battle burn out as an intradependant artist. (I like the term intradependant I’m going to put that on my topics list)

It’s pretty quick so I’m just going to read #10 from the list

  1. Release Expectations – My favourite Ray Wylie Hubbard song says “…and the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, Well, I have really good days.” Your career is going to play out in spite of your expectations – awards don’t matter, hits don’t matter. All you can control is the quality of your art – this is all that matters. The rest falls into place.

I like that last line because it kind of implies that things willl work out. But really as we’ve just been talking about it may never actually fall into place. You don’t have any control over that. All you can control is how good your art is and how strong your relationships are. 

Have you heard the Serenity Prayer? If you haven’t I’m going to read it to you right now and if you’d like to learn about its history I’ve put a link to the wikipedia article in the show notes. 


Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

The wisdom to know the difference. 


Here’s where you get to do some thinking:

  • Is there something you are trying to control but can’t?
  • Is it just a little frustrating or is it causing issues in your projects or relationships? 
  • What can you change? 
  • What would happen if you just … let it go?

Do you know someone who’s frustrated because they can’t seem to let go of things they can’t control? I’d hope you’d share this episode with them. I’d hope they’d see that freedom comes from letting things go not trying to control everything. The easiest way to share is to send the short url TheSparkAndTheArt.com/138 and the hardest way is to grab your friends hands and try and force them to type the url into the address bar of their browser then make them listen to the episode. That’s hard because you really don’t have control over it. All you can do is send the url, suggest why they should listen and then wipe your hands of the whole affair. 

Get me on twitter @sparkartpodcast or by email at Tucker@TheSparkAndTheArt.com

Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark. 

- Links for this episode -

Blake Berglund blog post - http://www.blakeberglund.com/blog/how-to-enjoy-the-grind-a-quick-guide-to-being-an-intradependent-musician/

Serenity Prayer - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenity_Prayer