Every person on the planet has the capacity to contribute something unique to the world.
We each experience life from a perspective that has never been experienced before, and will never be experienced again... so each of us will see things and experience things no one else ever will.
There may be similarities, sure. But on a profound level, we are each fundamentally special.
What I call our "Contribution" is anything we contribute to the human race that comes directly out of our own one-of-a-kind experience. When you find it, your life's purpose is to share it — to "Contribute" it — with the world.
When I first started putting Phenomenal together, I thought my contribution was the insight itself. I know with every fiber of my being, that the insight my book reveals will have a profound impact upon millions of people across the globe, and perhaps even the whole of the human race.
It's a confidence that's hard to describe. And I know I sound like I've gone off the deep end sometimes. But when you suddenly realize your life's purpose — what exactly you need to share — it's hard not to feel that way.
(And anyway, if I'm wrong, I eat crow. But if I'm right... my book lives up to its title.)
The truth is, the Phenomenal insight is the most valuable contribution I could ever make.
But one of the discoveries I made in the past month is this:
I've also got other extraordinary values to share. My life is not just about one "Contribution", no matter how large and impactful it may be.
And sometimes bringing one into the world is necessary to bring the other.
Over the past ten years, I've taught screenwriting to over 1,200 students in 9 cities in 5 countries, but predominantly Australia and New Zealand.
I did it out of necessity. I taught purely as a way to find and develop screenwriters who could write screenplays I could produce.
I've never been particularly fond of teaching. I enjoy it while I'm doing it... and I'm good at it... but I'm an artist, a writer, a filmmaker, a creative person. Teaching is a different kind of creative... your focus is entirely on helping other people be creative.
Still, after 10 years of working on something (anything!), you get good at it.
And along the way, I became an exceptional screenwriting teacher. I don't say that to boast or give myself an ego boost — I say it objectively. 100% of my workshop participants gave me a "recommend" rating. I've seen my students' faces when I teach them something that "clicks". I know the look of recognition when they've completed the learning circle.
And I'm good at it because I care. I want them to improve their craft. And when you genuinely care about someone you're trying to help, you're better at helping them.
But after doing something you don't really want to be doing for a long enough time, it's easy to let frustration seep in.
Eventually, I abandoned my efforts to teach screenwriting, because I couldn't figure out how to do it well enough to achieve my goals — that goal of helping writers write screenplays I could produce.
It's been about 3 years since I've been actively teaching screenwriting.
I've done a couple of live workshops in that time, but nothing regular or ongoing. Because I just couldn't do it anymore. I got back into directing, producing, and getting my own projects started.
But the one thing I didn't realize until after I'd started writing Phenomenal, was this:
I have inside me extraordinary value that only I can deliver.
It's there, waiting to be shared. And it will vastly improve the value and capabilities of many writers' lives. It comes from my unique experience... meaning that it's up to me to share it. If I don't, the value and benefits of my experience through life will be lost forever.
For me, the value of Phenomenal far outweighs anything I could ever teaching in the screenwriting world.
But that's not the point. The point is not "one or the other". The point is Contribution. Your purpose is to share what only you can share, which lifts the collective experience of mankind.
As I started thinking about all this, I realized that I've given up an extraordinary contribution to a world I've spent ten years trying to improve. It doesn't make sense. And, in fact, it flies in the face of the very insight I'm presenting with Phenomenal.
So I decided to create a "final" product — my "final" contribution to the world of screenwriting teaching. The culmination of 10 years of teaching screenwriting — from a producer's perspective. No, that's not it. It's not just a producer's perspective — it's my perspective. A value and benefit that no one else can share.
There's an old adage in the business world that says:
Find a need and fill it.
In the screenplay development world, there is a need. Thousands of people write screenplays every year, and producers sift through many thousands of submissions. But they're not meeting halfway. The scripts being written aren't satisfying producers' needs.
I realized I was in a unique position — having taught screenwriting for 10 years and sifting through over 15,000 submissions that I couldn't do anything with) — to create something phenomenal.
So I decided to create an online system of screenplay development that uses everything I've learned through 25 years in the film industry. It's called FAST Screenplay.
Phenomenal is a book about the phenomenal nature of the human mind.
I contend that we each have something "phenomenal" to offer the world. For me, it's the book itself. By tapping into my unique experience, I can offer something that will literally lift the lives of countless people, and push our world forward in an astonishing way.
As I've been writing the book, I've discovered that it has its own "pace". It's coming out at its own rate. And I've revised the release date accordingly.
But the way I write it needs to change, too.
Because it's not just about what I'm writing. To demonstrate my argument, I think it needs to be informed and inspired by something phenomenal as well.
By making the decision to launch FAST Screenplay as I continue to write the book, I can demonstrate a real-world application of the idea that goes beyond just the book itself. The question, "What makes you qualified to write this book?" can be answered by pointing to something phenomenal I've created that demonstrates that I can walk the walk.
And in the meantime, I'll be offering two items of phenomenal value... which will give you two examples of how to apply it to your own experience.
And I'll demonstrate that we don't have just one Contribution in us. Our lives are fundamentally unique. We don't need to stress and worry about finding the "right" thing to offer.
Because what we can offer, like our potential itself, is unlimited.
Starting in mid-November, and continuing through August 2010, the first Charter Group will go through the FAST Screenplay online system. My goal is find at least one, and possibly up to ten projects to produce from that charter group.
But alongside that, I'll be using FAST Screenplay to inform and inspire the writing of Phenomenal: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
By offering FAST Screenplay as an online system, it will also offer me the opportunity to travel to do research for the book. I'll be able to keep everything running remotely — all I'll need is a wifi connection.
By designing FAST Screenplay after discovering the insights Phenomenal has taught me, I've tapped a creativity and passion for my teaching that I haven't had in probably 7 or 8 years. I'm pouring everything I've got into it — and discovering that the more I pour in, the more creativity and passion continues to flood my mind.
I've come to see that FAST Screenplay and Phenomenal are inextricably linked on a creative level... because they share the same author. They're borne out of the same individual's unique experience.
When you tap into the core of your creative self, you will find that you don't have just one Contribution.
Your experience through this life will never be repeated. You will experience — every day — things that no one else will ever know.
To think that we each have only one Contribution that can lift and expand the capacity of the human race is silly.
We have an infinite array of possibilities that lay before us.
All we need to do is look deep inside ourselves, and see what we have to offer the people around us. Look for the experience that you have lived. We're not in competition with one another. We're in this together. The goal is not to defeat each other. The goal is to improve the lives of the people around you. By doing so, you will improve your own.
You may only impact those in your immediate circle... or you may impact every human being on this planet.
But there is something — or many things — in you that can help them reach higher than they're reaching today. Find it. Tap into it.
That is your Contribution.
And when you really offer it up to the rest of us, you open yourself up to contributing even more.
Next up, Article #20:
[writing in progress]
Phenomenal: The Self-fulfilling Prophecy is a dynamic new nonfiction book from author Jeff Bollow. You can pre-order your signed, Limited Edition first printing copy with our zero risk buyback guarantee right now. Visit the Pre-Order page for full details.