I grew up in the small town of Potosi, Missouri, which is about 100 miles south of St. Louis. In school, I was always involved in choir, band, theater, and that type of thing. After college, I was a music director at a church for seven years, and I’ve been a college professor for the last thirteen years. I teach courses related to writing, film, and creative arts.
When I myself was a student in college–this would have been in the early 90’s–I was eating lunch in the cafeteria with some friends, and a professor walked by and squeezed my shoulder.
Not in a creepy or weird way, but in the way that a mentor or caring father would give to another guy to affirm them. After squeezing my shoulder, he turned around and gave me a smile that communicated “I affirm and support you.” This was the professor who impacted me most in college, so it meant a lot.
This encounter has stuck with me all these years.
Even though it only lasted for a couple of seconds, it was huge for me. It has always reminded me that people’s #1 emotional need is to feel loved, validated, and accepted. Meaningful, appropriate human touch can be very powerful, and I try to support my own students the way my professor supported me all those years ago.
I’m also a published author.
When I was in middle school, I had a teacher named Mrs. Tull. I loved her classes because I had a chance to write. One day she told me, “I want you to dedicate your first book to me.” I thought about that many times over the years. Almost thirty years later, in 2015, I had the opportunity to send her a print copy of my book “The Artist’s Suitcase,” which I dedicated to her. She sent back a lovely note of thanks, which I cherish. Being able to dedicate a book to her and fulfill a lifelong dream is one of my most cherished memories.
What makes me tick more than anything else is seeing other people find ways to break out of their routine and start reaching their creative potential.
I love helping people expand their vision of what is possible in their lives. I also love helping them understand that they have unique gifts they can bring to the world, and that creativity is a process anyone can learn.
So many people start on a career path and feel they have to stick with it.
Maybe they earned a college degree in a field, or worked in a certain type of job for a long time. They’re scared to make a change and do something new, especially when they have a family, mortgage, responsibilities, and pressure to “succeed” in comparison to their peers.
For me, the whole idea of living on your own terms means that you are creating your own success rather than waiting for someone to give it to you. This is why I love the concept of independent publishing. I hate the idea of waiting for a gatekeeper to decide my work is worthy to distribute to the world. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for anyone today–we have all the tools we need to get our message to people.
I love what Harvey Dent says in the movie “The Dark Knight”–“I make my own luck.” All of us, every day, have the opportunity to be like Harvey Dent by carrying around (philosophically) a two-headed coin. We can make our own luck instead of waiting to be “lucky.”
(That being said, don’t try to mimic Harvey Dent in any other ways, since he became the villain Two-Face. :] )
Kent helps artists, authors, and creative entrepreneurs be more focused and productive so that they can live out their creative calling. He is currently working on book #3, “Born to Create,” a parable that teaches 5 key principles of creativity. To find out more about him, check him out on his website, kentsanders.net.