Always be… whatever it is you are.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I found myself trying to explain the contents of Alec Baldwin’s speech from “Glengarry Glennross” to two six-year-olds today. It went better than you might think.

Reddit has a section devoted to simple explanations of complicated things called “Explain Like I’m Five” (or ELI5). Explaining things as if you are explaining them to a five (or six) year old is actually a great way to test whether or not you understand something. If you can’t explain something to someone with no prior knowledge of what you are talking about, there’s an argument for saying that you don’t understand it fully yourself.

So, what is the essence of the Glengarry Glennross speech? It’s not to do with brass balls or coffee only being “for closers”. I think the essence of this speech is about commitment.

Alec Baldwin’s character says “Always be Closing” – e.g. Always be trying to complete, or “close”, a deal. Wherever you are, whatever time it is. Never, ever, leave that mindset. Always. Be. Closing.

If you’re a writer, Always Be Writing. If you’re a developer, Always Be Developing. If you’re a hypnotist… well, you get the picture.

I don’t think this means that you should be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I think this is about mindset.

You vs. The Muse

I hear people talk about having to get “in the zone” before they can do something, especially something creative. People say things like “I’m not feeling it right now” as an excuse to not be doing something.

Take it from me – the myth of the “muse” is the greatest con ever pulled on the world by creative types. There is no muse. There’s no such thing. You don’t, you can’t, sit around waiting for “inspiration” to strike because all that time you are spending sitting around, waiting for some unknown muse to drop nuggets of magic into your head? Someone else is working on their craft, and they are kicking your ass.

People comment on the fact that I “always seem to be working on something”. That’s because I am.

I’m writing, right now. I’ll be writing later. I write in front of the TV, I write when my kids are swimming, and when I don’t feel like I’ve got time to write I pick up my tablet and write longhand when I’m in the kitchen or putting out the bins. If I can’t put pen to paper, or fingers on keys, I’m turning ideas over in my head. I draft in my head, I edit in my head, because time in front of the computer can be hard to come by. Writing time is precious, so mine as much as you can from every day.

Always be… three or four things at once

Of course, writing isn’t the only thing that I do. I have a day job, 7.5 hours a day, and I often work nights and weekends on the fun stuff or the difficult stuff, whichever there is more of (and they’re often the same thing). I also practice my hypnosis, and it’s an essential part of my “daily practice” to use hypnosis to cool down at the end of each day.

And, before any of this my biggest priority is those two six years old who want to know why I find “Cookies are for Closers” so hilarious when The Boss Baby says it. Because it’s all for them, every single thing I do.

Find your closing. And close it.

The point is that I’m not Superman. I’m just optimizing, each and every day, to find more time for the things that matter and spend less on things that are not important. Before you do anything, ask yourself – is this my “closing”?

If it isn’t – drop it, defer it, or delegate it. Always be closing.