Find Synergy in a Scattered Life: Louis C.K. as a Businessman, Citizen, Artist, and Father

How do we arrive at synergy when we are pulled in so many directions?

In this short, brilliant, hilarious conversation with Conan O’Brien, Louis C.K. shows us the depth of his philosophy, the sharpness of his wisdom, the love for his children, and his ability to startle us with the truth about ourselves. We glimpse the apparently effortless synergy between his different roles as Businessman, Citizen, Artist, and Father.

EXploding our roles helps us elevate our consciousness, shift our balance, and deepen our expertise, but how do we get them all to work together like he seems to do so easily?

Let’s show how easy it is for Louis C.K. by inventing his Week’s Plan as a masterful design to integrate all of his roles around a short bit about kids and cell phones.

Businessman: Book Conan to promote my new video.
Citizen: Write a convincing public service bit about the dangers of compulsive cell phone use.
Artist: Shock and amuse people with the dirty truth we are lonely and afraid. (Use self as prime example.) Tune up the jokes.
Father: Tell ‘m they can’t have ‘m.


It’s true I’ve had moments where I shapeshift among my vastly different roles fluidly, uninhibitedly, synergistically as though I am one cohesive human, unambivalent, even in my ambivalence. It feels like magic.

There was that time I was putting together a video with and for a client who was also a student. I asked my burgeoning filmmaker daughter to give me advice on a rough edit, which was shockingly concise and helpful. For 5 minutes I was Film Student, Father, Creative Director, and Teacher all rolled up in one. Time disappeared. The clouds parted. I was in Flow. I was perfect.

Is it magic?

Nope. It’s the result of preparation. Sure, there are multipotentialites who seem to slip into multikinetics more easily than others, but I guarantee you, most of them got there through rigorous practice.

The Physicist who is also a Diligent Mother juggles her roles with skills developed over many years. When asked to give a lecture at Carnegie Hall, she also arranges to bring her teenage daughter and cello to open with a little Bach. The girl gets to play Carnegie Hall! Okay, not the Carnegie Hall.

The Scientist and Husband and Father brings his toddler son along on a tour of orchards. He’s giving a break to the Mother at home busy with a new baby. At their first stop he leaves the boy on a blanket under an apple tree to play with the worms while he and his colleagues review the effects of a breakthrough remedy to crop crippling fungi. He returns for a picnic and a nap before they move on to the next orchard.

The Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher, and Marketing Genius steps on to stage to introduce the opening night of the annual holiday production. She’s there to remind another sold out crowd of children and parents that dance would die without their support, and as the curtain rises, the gasps from the audience indicate it won’t die soon.

Practice plus opportunity

These are true stories of moments of synergy. They feel magical, but they were born of practice and opportunity. What are you doing this week to give yourself both?


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Leave a comment6 comments on "Find Synergy in a Scattered Life: Louis C.K. as a Businessman, Citizen, Artist, and Father"

  1. I noticed that all of your examples involved parents and kids, David. Perhaps intentional, perhaps not, but it’s pretty clear which role(s) are occupying your thoughts lately.

    I’m finding synergy this week flexing my father role muscles as well. That happens when I pack Clark – my three-week-old son – into a baby carrier harness, head outside for a walk (in my Paleo role), and hit up the grocery store before coming back (the Sustainer role).

    None of this is glamorous and nobody outside my immediate family notices. But there are hints of magic in these seemingly common moments that focus my gratitude on what an amazing life I have.

  2. “It’s not my job to make you happy.”

    The fact that this got such a laugh says something profound about how we raise our kids today.

    Anyway. I really resonate with that sitting in the moment, being sad. For the last few months I’ve had to do work that I don’t want to be doing, and my writing has dropped off. Why? Because I don’t want to tune into where I’m at. I know that I’m not where I want to be, and that I have to get out, but I also have to stick it out a bit longer, too.

    So finally I was able to carve out a little breathing room on the stuff I don’t want to do, and immediately, self-reflection came rushing back in. It became more comfortable to be in my body again. But then I noticed all the other things I want to be different, and those are aspirational– I really want to step up my game there. But I’m spread too thin. So this week I’m working on developing my vision and goals for each little aspect of my life so I can work towards it. So that I’ll be able to sit alone again

  3. You know, I think the more synergy we can achieve like the kind you’re describing, the less we feel like we’re living multiple lives and the less effort we have to put into making sure everything gets done. Habits get formed, a new way of thinking becomes routine.

    For me right now, the greatest tension, I think, lies in the relationship between my professional roles and my more domestic roles. How to get the work done and still have dinner on the table. How to design my business in a way that allows for time as a wife and friend. I’ll keep practicing!

  4. Most people struggle with the domestic vs. professional roles. That’s where the myth of work/life balance comes from. It’s why all my examples have parents and kids, and why the examples of synergy between them are so powerful. I believe when we practice all our roles separately, when the opportunities come to bring them together, we are as ready as possible.

  5. Nothin get’s me into synergy like a woodworking project. But I have to have everything on hand so I don’t end up making 3 trips to the hardware store. Lumber, fasteners, tools, saws. If everything is available, I can spend hours working on it until it’s ‘done’. Can’t say the same about any online project.

    • Hi Ethan, You are talking about Flow, which is a blessed state I write about a lot. The synergy I’m discussing is about how different roles with seemingly conflicting goals can work together; for example, is there any way you could combine woodworking with your online projects? That would be synergy.

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