My 3 main takeaways from Ryan Kulp's Camp

Creatives can be meticulously organized

For years now I’ve believed in the meme of the chaotic artist. That in order to be a prolific creative, you have to embrace messiness. That keeping your physical and digital spaces neatly organized is just a feel-good form of procrastination.

Ryan Kulp is undeniably a prolific creative. He’s constantly involved in so many projects in so many different creative fields that it makes my head spin. So imagine my surprise when I found out that he’s totally the opposite of the chaotic artist meme.

He’s meticulously organized. As soon as things start getting a little messy in his home or on his laptop, he puts in the effort to get them back in order.

So if you’re like me and feel naturally inclined to keep things neat and organized, here’s your permission to lean into that. Some creatives thrive with order.

Environment is everything

We’ve all heard “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. These 2 weeks in Camp were a stark reminder of that.

Surrounded by a dozen high-performing guys, your habits change automatically. You’re eager to go back to the computer after dinner to squeeze in a few more hours of work.

The atmosphere is optimistic and energizing. It makes you feel like you can do anything, and at the same time like you’re not doing enough. It’s competitive and collaborative. It’s lightning in a bottle.

Sadly, it’s only 2 weeks. I find myself wondering “What if most of my life were like this? How much more would I be able to accomplish?”

As I return to my normal life, one of the biggest questions on my mind is how I can keep a little bit of that magic Camp essence in my life.

I could be doing a lot more

Another effect of hanging out with high-performers: you keep comparing yourself to them.

Of course we have bossman Ryan, who is formidable. He’s only a few years older than me, but while I was mostly taking it easy as a nomad in my twenties, he was working relentlessly on his career.

Walking around his beautiful home, surrounded by evidence of his projects and achievements, it was impossible not to compare myself and feel a twinge of pain. “What do I have to show for my twenties? What if I had worked harder? What if I had shipped more and quit less?”

Besides Ryan, we have the other students, all from different walks of life, but each one impressive in their own right.

We had an 18 year old who seems so hungry for excellence that I think he might be a different species from whatever most of us were at 18.

We had a designer who was working a full-time job, contract work, organizing community events, and doing the camp program at the same time. Amazing energy and time management.

We had successful marketers and salesmen who could be comfortably resting on their laurels, but instead chose to throw themselves into the deep end of something new and difficult, suffering through the pain of being a beginner all over again.

And then there’s me, accustomed to being a big fish in a small pond. Suddenly in Camp, comparing myself to these guys, I feel like a small fish. It’s a shock to the system. It made me realize that I’m not pushing myself nearly as much as I could be.

Now it’s on me to do something positive with that realization.

Comfort and Affliction

On the last day of Camp, Ryan mentioned a quote he remembered from church, about “Comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable”.

I think Camp did both for me.

It helped me get clarity on some difficulties I’ve been struggling with - comforting my afflictions.

But even more so, it lit a fire under me where I was feeling too comfortable - afflicting the comfortable.

And I think it’s just what I needed.

I’m grateful to everyone involved in these special 2 weeks of Cohort #1 (unofficially Cohort #2 💩). Thank you 🙏

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