Do you ever get that sinking feeling when you look around and start to compare yourself to others — their art or their business success?
You start to think that no one will every want what you have.
And, then you start to believe the one or two people who have ever commented negatively on your work.
And, then the spiral starts. Really, who are you to do this anyway?
As I watched the Final Four Tournament on Saturday, I was thinking about what basketball and the professional creative arts have something in common. Is it any surprise my mind would go to art when I’m watching sports?
This is the obvious. These kids love basketball, and for them it is their art. What you pay attention to grows.
Just as the college athletes pay attention to basketball and their skills and love of the game increase, your skill level in your art increases with increased attention. Your knowledge and love of the art grows as you look at more art, go to more galleries, take more classes. And, your skill level at marketing, and your passion at marketing, also increases proportionately to the effort you put into it.
How much effort are you putting into growing your business?
Someone recently shared in our Members’ Studio that she was trying to tackle too many tasks in one day. She added that she tended to overestimate her available time. That meant she was moving uncompleted tasks from one day into the next day’s list. The end result was making new lists and wasting time and energy. She was not alone with this confession, confusion, and remorse.
I refer to this as the “Smorgasbord Syndrome.”
As a child, I can remember my parents saying that my eyes were bigger than my stomach when we had big family celebrations. I didn’t want to miss out on anything that might be good. And, of course, even though I probably left little room for dessert, I didn’t want to miss out on any of those, so I added more to my plate when dessert rolled around. You can guess that I probably had my share of stomach aches.
It’s easy to see how this approach translates into your life and business.
You think you have more time to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. You keep saying, “yes, pile more on my plate.” Whether you say that to someone who asks you to do something or just to yourself, the end result is the same. Your life and/or business plate is overflowing.
Some time ago I read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. It’s a good read about why right-brainers will rule the future.
The future, really today, is the “conceptual age.” Pink discusses the “six senses” that one uses to build a whole new mind to thrive in this conceptual age: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. While I do not necessarily subscribe to his premise in total – I believe we need to engage both parts of our brain – he offers lots of great exercises to get your right brain working. And even though many artists are right-brained, you will find the exercises fun and expanding.
Onto ifs, ands, & buts. In his discussion on meaning, one of Pink’s suggestions for creating more meaning in your life is to replace the word “but” with “and.”
He says that “buts” can create roadblocks for creating more meaning in your life and suggests creating a list of what you are trying to accomplish and what is in your way.
It’s the start of a New Year. Maybe you spent time creating goals. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you selected a word of the year or theme to guide you. Maybe you didn’t.
Setting goals and choosing a word to provide focus matter. But what matters even more is that you start each day with intention.
If you look at Webster’s, you can find six definitions for intention. A popular one would be “what one intends to do or bring about.” I prefer the definition that says “a determination to act in a certain way” or “resolve.”
You might even think of intention as the bridge between your words (your goals or theme) and your actions.
You’ve probably heard people talk about leverage. And not the TV show of recent years. Leverage is about using a resource to its maximum advantage.
When I think of leverage in your business, I think of it as a triangle with Time, Money, and Knowledge + Talents + Passion as the three sides. When you start your business, you have all these elements in varying degrees. And likely some are limited.
As you grow your business, you begin to have more of each and can use each to its maximum advantage. And, you can leverage other people’s time, money and knowledge, too.
You invest in each of them because you want something back in your business. You have an expectation of a return on this investment.
You’ve heard of ROI – return on your investment. It’s where you figure out if the amount of money you invest comes back to you at a greater return, whether that is a profit or cost savings. Technically your ROI could be negative, which means you lost money.
You may have heard of ROTI – return on your time invested. You look at where you are investing your time and determining whether or not it produces a return.
I have a new one to share: ROR – Return on Relationships.
We are about halfway through the summer. Are you doing anything special during your summer vacation? I fit in a mini-family reunion and spent time at our home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I also took a sketching and watercolor class.
Even with those fun elements, I still kept up a busy work schedule. One of the things I’ve tried to work on for the last few years is working smarter and using my time more efficiently. The key to that is knowing how I am working currently. Here are some tips I have been using to put the sizzle back in my creative arts business.
At the end of each day and at the end of each week compare the percentage of your time used toward fulfilling your mission and achieving your goals with time spent elsewhere. It is easy to get sidetracked and not pay attention to the task at hand. It is also easy to do the effortless work and not really tackle what you should be getting done.
One day recently I was stopped at a railroad bridge and started thinking about what we learned as kids about crossing the train tracks. Stop, look, and listen. Do you remember that?
The next morning I looked at the mountain of work on my desk – as well as those bright, shiny objects across the room – and wondered where I should start. I picked up the task on the top and started to work.
Shortly I became distracted and found myself on the way to the kitchen for another cup of tea.
Back to my desk. What was I working on?