DeVaughn Townsend is a recording artist, painter, and entrepreneur. Here's the top 7 things I took away from our Conversation in episode 32.
Going back and listening to the episode DeVaughn and I recorded made me realize how I missed what he was trying to communicate when it comes to being influenced by the environment outside oneself.
I carry this “no-nonsense” type of approach when it comes to going within and getting things done, but the reason I’m so strict on this method is that I realize the challenge of not allowing the thoughts, opinions, and suggestions of others affect how I behave.
DeVaughn talked about how someone could influence another person without even realizing it.
I spent the first 22 years of my life in this way. I lived in a place that was dictated by my culture, and it wasn’t until I realized that everyone has their own unique experience that I could embrace my own.
Culture, social influence, and the environment are realities, but they're not the only reality. Sometimes we’re so deep in our reality that we don’t recognize this to be the case.
Ironically DeVaughn and I experienced exactly what he was trying to tell me the day before I released the podcast. We were hanging out with a group of friends, and I influenced our actions in a way that wasn’t productive.
I take full responsibility for that, and in a sense, I’m glad that it happened. DeVaughn and I talked about the situation later in the week, and it was a great learning experience for me to recognize that although our intentions may be right, the influence we have on others can be impactful for better or worst.
It’s crucial to be aware of not only how others are influencing you, but also how you’re affecting others and if you’re not influencing for the better, why influence at all?
2) Being Curious
DeVaughn is one of the most open-minded people I know. I’m so thankful to have someone I can talk to without holding a single thing back from fear of judgment. This relationship has enabled me to grow in so many ways that it would be impossible for me to put down in words.
I asked DeVaughn what's the common theme amongst the friends we have that share a similar worldview. He said that it’s a community of open-minded people who are curious.
Being curious is essential because there’s so much unknown about our universe that if you try to live a life with having all “the right answers,” then you are bound to be in an awkward position.
Being curious and allowing others to be is what encourages growth because it points to the fact that we’re all trying to figure out life (a massive board game without instructions) in our way and terms. We realize that having all the answers isn’t necessarily the point but perhaps asking meaningful questions is.
3) Be True to the Info
DeVaughn talked about being true to the information you gather and how vital it is to not second guess yourself by hopping back over the mental hurdle you’ve crossed just because someone else who hasn’t done the research convinced you to do so.
This concept is essential to realize because once you become curious and start asking difficult and challenging questions, you’ll soon understand that there’s a lot of work to be done not only personally, but culturally and socially as well.
The work at times may seem overwhelming and pointless, and it may be easier to fall back to old patterns of thinking, but you know what’s best for your life because you’re the only one who’s lived it. If your life has brought you knowledge and wisdom that seems counter to those around you, don’t be so quick to doubt yourself.
DeVaughn worded it beautifully by saying “doubt is just another form of fear.”
Fear of being wrong. Fear of being separate. Fear of the unknown or becoming unknown.
Just as I believe you can’t obliterate fear, the same goes for doubt. We can’t run away from these aspects of life because they’re a part of it. They can’t be thought through, but only felt and once felt; they can be dealt with objectively.
Sometimes it’s easier to doubt ourselves and the experiences we’ve had because that seems safer. Everyone around you thinks differently, and it’s not worth the argument to state your case. But who says you have to argue?
If you have information that’s profound to you and not realized yet by others, the best way to use that information is by action, not words. Allow your life to reflect what you’ve learned. Allow your example of how you treat others, yourself, and the world around you to speak volumes about the information you have.
That goes way further than trying to convince people you’re right because it doesn’t matter if they believe in you or not, it only matters if you do.
4) Old and New Stories
Names, symbols, ideologies, are stories that large numbers of people have agreed to be true. Where did these stories come from? People.
Some stories have been told for so long by so many people that it can be easy to mistake these stories as reality.
Just because the stories have been around for a long time, and so have the people telling them, doesn’t mean that the stories are absolute truths and it doesn't say suggest they can’t be changed or updated.
We are just as capable of creating new stories as much as the people who created old ones.
5) The Outcome
“A lot of the time when I struggle with a project is when I’m thinking of the outcome.” - DeVaughn Townsend.
I do this too, even outside of projects. I’ve carried the idea of a “finish line” of some sort in almost everything I’ve done.
I spent too much time thinking about what high school basketball would be like while in Jr High.
I spent too much time thinking what college life would be like once I graduated from high school.
I spent too much time thinking about what my career would be like once I got a bachelor’s degree.
Thinking about these things are standard and can be used for practical purposes such as planning and encouragement. But when we get lost in these thoughts and start to spend more time in the future than we are in the present moment, it takes away from what we could be doing right here, right now because we’re not entirely invested in the Now.
Non “thinking” isn’t the goal, but catching yourself and realizing when you are thinking is the key to bringing yourself back to what is right in front of you.
Whether that be the music you’re trying to produce, the book you’re trying to write, or listening to the other person in a conversation, looking for a finish line where there is none is pointless and takes you out of a place of fully experiencing what this moment has to offer.
6) Teaching and Healing
“A lot of the things I do are an attempt to teach or to heal.” - DeVaughn Townsend
This quote is beautiful. And it’s easy to sit back and romanticize DeVaughn’s intentions and to doubt if our work outside of music can do the same.
“I can’t teach or heal anyone from my cubicle,” one might believe, but that’s merely romanticizing the arts over everyday life. But what if you could make daily life your art?
To do this, you must first change how you define art. At first, glance, when we think of art we think of a painting, a sculpture, or a music score. But is that all the art there is?
Art is about connection and relationships. When another consciousness gets’s to get a glimpse of another consciousness is art because it’s an experience of bridging the gap between the two and that difference is where “God” lives, where the very source of anything and everything lives. When two or more forms of consciousness experience that connection, art has been created.
For me, coming from the cubicle, I define my art by building more trust with every interaction. You can’t have confidence without giving it first, and you can’t experience faith without some level of connection that’s beyond you.
Art is where healing takes place because the connection it offers makes you realize that you’re not alone, that you are a part of something, that you are a part of everything.
7) 40+ as an Addiction?
“If we did anything else for 40 hours a week, it’d be considered an addiction.” - DeVaughn Townsend on work.
Work is important, but defining work and understanding what meaningful work means is more important.
What's meaningful work? It’s the type of effort you put towards something that builds the character of your soul.
Working in a cubicle can do that, but is 8 hours a day excessive? And outside of that, do you need to be working 40 plus hours a week? We do when our work becomes our identity instead of making an effort to define a deeper metric for success.
But the work we do is going will rapidly change with the future of artificial intelligence.
There will be a time when artificial intelligence will replace jobs whose primary function is to move information from one computer to another. That’s just for the desk jobs. And when automation replaces drivers, accountants, and lawyers, will we be able to be mature enough as a society to discuss what to do next?
In a world where people identify themselves by what they do 40 plus hours a week, on the path towards a world where technology replaces jobs, can we discuss what this means for individuals and their purpose in life? I don’t know the right answer, but I at least hope that we can start to working together in finding the right questions to ask.