When I met Colin I knew him as an actor. I managed not to say it out loud, but my reaction upon meeting him was “Hey, you’re that guy from Something Borrowed!” I’m sure he’s never heard that before.
My work with Colin began when he was launching his book, Agile Artist. Through the launch, I got to know his book and his story pretty well and discovered that Colin’s interests went way beyond acting. Colin grew up in a small town south of Chicago. He was introduced to acting early on, but then he went on to attend medical school and also worked as a model with some of the top designers and photographers in the world before he returned to acting. But there’s more! In addition to acting, Colin actively participates in triathlons and marathons to raise money for St. Jude’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, works with community leaders and developers in Chicago’s south side helping revitalize under-served communities and neighborhoods and runs his own real estate investment company called Stage 2 Properties.
Clearly, this guy has a lot going on.
Since I’ve met Colin he has been venturing into even more arenas, rocking one entrepreneurial endeavor after another. He now speaks about his book at conferences, corporate and charity events and seminars, and teaches courses to help others pursue their own passions.
In this interview, Colin and I talk about the mindset of an artist and how creativity can help you live your life and pursue your entrepreneurial pursuits with a new passion. Creativity is a journey that involves collaboration, determination, and a lot of soul-searching. Colin believes that we all need to think of ourselves as artists in order to really be successful in what we are doing.
“Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going towards what it is that inspires you.”
– Colin Egglesfield
Transcript of Our Interview:
Can you tell me a little bit about what it means to be an artist and live your creative, true self?
Very good question, Jess. And by the way, thank you for having me on your interview here. You are so much helping me with building my website and my branding and you’ve been incredibly instrumental in helping me grow everything that I’m doing and been incredibly supportive as well through the whole process. So just wanted to say that. Thank you. Thank you.
So what does it mean to be an artist? In my eyes, I feel like being an artist is not just simply mean being constrained to someone with a paintbrush or a pastel pencil and going onto a blank piece of canvas and drawing or creating. I think nowadays life requires so much more creativity in order to solve so many more problems than we’ve been ever confounded with than in the past.
Nowadays, people are changing jobs and careers and have side hustles and are doing a million different things. And we can do more on our phones nowadays than anyone could ever possibly have thought of even 50 years ago. That all requires to be able to handle all of that and to do it efficiently and effectively. It requires a lot of creativity. So in my mind, the idea of what being an artist is all about is inviting more creativity into your life in order to create more fulfillment, more connection, become a better communicator. Because in my opinion, art is all about the expression of who you are, self-expression. It’s all about communicating a thought or an idea. Whether that’s with a paintbrush or whether that’s through words or whether that’s through a website. I feel like nowadays everyone needs to think of themselves more of an artist if they really, truly want to be as successful as they possibly can, whether it be professionally or personally.
That’s great. So can you tell me some of the ways that you could see this coming into play for an entrepreneur or a business owner?
Yeah, absolutely. As I was touching on in the previous question, in order to be a successful entrepreneur…entrepreneurs are problem solvers, and in order to solve problems, you’ve got to be able to pull from so many different resources and so many different books, websites, podcasts. You’ve got to be a very good curator of what’s the best, newest, most efficient knowledge and modalities of doing things. And a lot of that is what is required after you collect all these resources, how to organize it in a cohesive and simple enough way that gets your message across. Because there’s a lot of noise out there. And in order to really have something land on someone to be able to take action on whatever it is that you’re wanting them to if you’re trying to help them succeed with whatever it is that they’re doing like what you do is help me convey my message through my website and through all of my branding.
What is the simplest and most effective way that we can do that together? That requires a lot of creativity and it requires a lot of analyzing a lot of data but then also bringing your own personal voice to it. And I think what you do great is you help someone tell their story in their own voice, but you also enhance it and contribute to it. Much like, you know, me being an actor when a writer writes a script. It’s the actor’s job to elevate the words that are on the page and make those words come to life. I may have an idea and I may have a thought on what a website should look like or could look like. You’re the one that actually brings it to life and makes it happen. And it’s been fun working together to collaborate and combine our creativity together to make all this happen. And creativity is such a journey. You get an idea and it turns into another idea, which turns into another idea. And everyone you meet along the way kind of contributes to that and helps with those different directions. I love the collaboration that is part of the creative process.
Yeah, definitely. That’s great. So as entrepreneurs and business owners you talk a lot about how there are barriers that are holding us back and this creative perspective can help us break through some of those barriers. Can you talk a little bit about how we identify the barriers that are holding us back?
Yeah, I would say the barriers that hold any of us back have to do with the belief systems that we’ve picked up along the way in our lives. And whether that’s you were raised in a certain culture or with a certain religion, just because you were born in the West Coast and I was born in the Midwest and someone else may have been born in Japan. Each of these cultures and wherever we grow up, without our choosing, we get these belief systems imprinted on us.
As I’ve gotten older and I’ve been able to travel and meet different people from all over the world, it’s made me start to question the belief systems that I was raised with. And it’s made me really think about, okay, is this a belief system that I truly believe in, that resonates with me? Or is it, do I believe in this belief system? Because this is what my parents believe, or this is what I was taught by going to church. And the more I started to examine these belief systems, I started to recognize where these belief systems were holding me back. If I wanted to get up on stage in front of people and be fully self-expressed, the limiting beliefs that came up for me was, I’m not good enough. Who am I to believe that I could actually make it as a professional actor?
I remember giving a presentation in sixth grade and kids laughing at me and then me remembering I’m never going to put myself up in front of other people because I don’t want to be ridiculed. And those emotional feelings of being ridiculed and being made fun of or our parents telling us something or punishing us when we were younger. All of those, all that messaging we can turn against ourselves with regards to us as we get older, wanting to go after the things that mattered to us. It usually comes down to people having to get out of their comfort zone by using creative methods of thinking outside the box and doing things that we wouldn’t normally do. Solving problems from a perspective that we wouldn’t normally look at it from. And it really requires a lot of introspection and self-reflection to think about what it is that you want in life. And for me, it was acting. In pursuit of that, you’re naturally just going to have the barriers and the obstacles appear. And once they do, then what do you do and how do you overcome those challenges and those barriers.
And a lot of the times as an actor, I didn’t know how to overcome these challenges of being nervous in front of casting directors and how to confidently walk into an audition and not let my nerves get the best of me. So I needed to seek out people who were already doing what I was doing, what I wanted to do, in order to see how they did it. I would talk to professional working actors. How did you do this? Did these skills come up for you? And when they did, what did you, how did you overcome them? Oh yeah, I used to be nervous as well, but now I go talk to this life coach or this acting coach or whoever it is because they will help you identify what’s holding you back. It takes a lot of a drive and motivation and inspiration for you to want to seek out how to overcome these obstacles.
The sad thing is a lot of the times I see people just think that those obstacles are always going to be there, that there’s no way to get over them. They get stuck in their life. In my book I just came out with, Agile Artist, I talk about how to identify what’s important in your life. What is your hell yeah. And if it’s that important to you, then how to effectively and powerfully examine what your limiting beliefs are and how to transform those limiting beliefs into the point where they’re not there anymore, where you can take action and swiftly go after and realize what you want to have in your life.
Yeah, I really like the idea of creativity as a way to just kind of look beyond the limiting beliefs. Because that’s where we tend to stay focused. And you know, from a business perspective, I work with so many people who are starting out as entrepreneurs cause they’re really excited about something. And then they’re told you need to post on social media. You need to start a blog, you need to start a podcast, you need to do these things and suddenly they lose track of what they even want to do. They lose track of that center you’re talking about. I think creativity just kind of brings us back to looking outside the box and looking at what we really want.
Well, to kind of wrap this up here, I wanted to get some actionable steps from you. How do we start to work past our barriers and start to live a more creative life now?
You’ve got to find a really powerful and inspiring “Why” and I always ask people what are they passionate about? A lot of people I talk to are still trying to figure out, where they fit in life and what their purpose in life is. Sometimes it may take a while to actually find what that is. I didn’t find that until I was 24 years old. I just kinda felt like I was going through life kind of with the flow of whatever everyone else was doing, going to school and my classes, but I just didn’t feel like I was connecting with what I knew was going to inspire me and make me feel excited to get up in the morning and go do this for the rest of my life.
I mean, how can you expect an 18-year-old to decide what they want to do for the rest of their life and be like, okay, now go do that. We put a lot of pressure on society and on kids especially to figure that out. I think we’ve got to give ourselves more freedom and more space to investigate, go travel, go get outside of where you grew up. Go to museums, go see as many movies as you can. Go expose yourself to what’s out there in the world. And right now with Google and YouTube and the internet, we can. We’ve access to so much more than we ever had access to. And it can be overwhelming. But through that process of just picking something, committing to it, you will get feedback on whether it feels right or if it’s something that you want to keep pursuing.
And if not, then you try something else. It’s okay to not know what you want to do in life. Once I did find what that “hell yeah” was for me I decided that this is what I was going to commit to. And it requires that commitment to that no matter what. This is what I’m going to devote myself to and I know it’s going to be difficult, and you gotta understand that it is going to be difficult. But the more you invite play and bring creativity into what you’re doing, the more I have found that people and things have appeared in my life that have helped me get to where I want to go. And then whenever I have been stuck, the more I’ve gotten out of my own ego and said, you know what? I’m stuck. I need help.
That took a big kind of leap of faith for me too, especially as guys we’re supposed to have all the answers and show everyone that we are smart. We know, and we don’t have to rely on anyone else for help. But the more I realized that the more you ask for help, not only are you getting to where you want to go faster, you’re actually giving someone else an opportunity for them to show you who they really are, and giving them an opportunity to do something that they love doing. Like what you’re doing with me. You love graphic design and website building and brand management. And for me to be asking you for that help, it’s giving you an opportunity to do what you love to do. And so what I’ve recognized that I started creating a community of people who all have their own specific talents.
Another big thing I’ve realized is that we all can’t do it on our own. I mean, everything is so highly specialized nowadays that you really do need a team of people to get anything done. That really requires a lot of communication and a lot of just getting out of your own head and saying, okay, you know what? It’s not about me. It’s not about how I look or how stupid I may look in the beginning. I know if I just keep continuing on this path with this goal of what I want to accomplish, I’m going to learn along the way and I’m going to be doing it with a group of people that I really enjoy doing it with. And in the process not only am I going to be fulfilled, but the impact that you end up having on other people in your life is really amazing to see as well.
That’s great advice. I love that. And it’s been so great being a part of it. As you mentioned, it’s difficult to stay in the mindset where you have this creative, playful kind of mindset about life. Are there certain things that you found that are helpful for you to stay in that, whether it’s journaling, having conversations with friends about it…what helps you keep this mindset going?
Yeah, I think it’s important to take breaks. For me, what that looks like is, I’ll work for a couple of hours, and then I’ll go work out where I’m actually not consistently applying sheer brainpower on what it is I’m working on or trying to figure out. Because a lot of the times creativity and problem-solving happens when we give our brains space and the time to have that stuff figured out. Our subconscious is usually where our problem solving happens.
When I go for a run, it’s usually when I’m like two miles into my run where an idea will just come into my head where I wasn’t even thinking about the problem. You know, it just came into my head, just popped into my head as an idea. But when you’re constantly working and you’re like, oh, I gotta work, I gotta figure this out, and you’re sitting at your computer or you’re writing things out and you’re trying to actively figure things out and you’re not giving your brain space to actually do what it does best, which is solve problems from a creative perspective. And it’s all that left brain, right brain stuff that I talk about in my book, where growing up I was very analytical, left brain. And the more I started taking my acting classes, my acting teachers would just constantly remind us to get out of our head, get back into our bodies, into our heart, into our instincts, and really, truly listen to what your spirit is telling you and what matters to you. The more I’ve listened to other people and tried to figure things out in my head, the more trouble I got into cause I was not listening to my own instincts and trusting what my instincts were telling me was best for me. And so another really good piece of advice one of my acting teachers gave me was you’ve got to honor yourself in whatever that looks like. You can’t let people try to tell you what to do and tell you what’s best for you. You’ve got to experience it for yourself, learn from your mistakes, not beat yourself up. And just keep putting one foot in front of the other to keep going towards what it is that inspires you.