You’ve chosen an uncertain path.
You’ve adopted an inconvenient lifestyle.
You’ve embarked upon an unconventional journey.
You’ve felt the voice inside you growing more urgent.
You’ve committed yourself enough so you can’t turn back.
IN SHORT: You’ve decided to play for keeps.
This is the critical crossroads – the emotional turning point – in the life of every young artist.
I’ve been there myself, and here’s a list of suggestions to help you along the way:
(Read part one here, part two here, part three here, part four here, part five here, part six here, part seven, part eight, part nine, part ten, part eleven and part twelve.
1. Change your relationship to fear. If you’re never scared of anything, there’s something wrong. And if you’re not terrified in your artistic pursuits, you’re not reaching enough.
Fear is a healthy, human reality. It’s an essential part of the creative experience. And if you’re trying to scrub your world clean of it, you’ll never reach your full potential.
First, to admit that you’re scared shitless every day of your life. And to be okay with that. Second, to make friends with your fear. Offer respect to it, give thanks for it and learn lessons from it. Lastly, to overwhelm fear with faith. To believe in yourself, your resources, you abilities, your foundation – and humanity – down to your toes.
That’s how fear becomes fuel. It’s not meant to be ignored; it’s meant to be invested. Do you fear the fear of fear?
2. You can’t outsource originality. The purpose of art is to give your values a heartbeat. To go where the soul shines forth and deliver the death stroke with everything you’ve got. That’s what makes your work matter. That’s what makes your audience gasp.
On the other hand, if your work is nothing but a cheap echo of someone else’s art, eventually people are going to catch on. Anybody can be successful for a short period of time before the rest of the world finds out.
If you truly want to play for keeps, never paint with another man’s palette. Learn to recognize and respect your own value. Embrace novelty with shattering enthusiasm. And believe that more of what you are will come to you. If you were charged with the crime of originality, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
3. Believe you’re worthy of your own dream. It’s easy to become hypnotized by the horizon of other people’s expectations. That’s a personal virus every artist has to fight. But life’s too short to acquiesce to the norm. And pursuing something that someone convinced you that you should want is a recipe for misery.
Instead of flagrantly supporting the status quo by clinging to an inherited dream as a fixture of absolute truth, do what you want. Listen to your own voice the loudest.
In the words of Joseph Campbell:
“The minute you take the dictation of the time instead of the dictation of your own eternity, you have capitulated to the devil, and you’re in hell.”
You don’t need excessive reassurance – you need to stick your fingers in your ears. Freedom means never having to bury your desire. Are you being the real you or trying to impress an invisible jury?
4. Push yourself until you’re overextended. If you think you’re overextending yourself, you’re probably just a poor judge of distance. Turns out, you can handle a lot more than you thought. Especially you’re doing the work of your heart.
The secret is to sense when you’re being offered the chance to do more. To practice saying yes to more than you can do. That way, the fear of failure keeps the art flowing. And that way, working with a full plate forces you to manage your time more efficiently.
Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s the most beautiful form of exhaustion available. Certainly beats being bored. As long as you’re overextending yourself with the work that matters, I say bend away. Besides, if it’s your highest priority, you never really sacrifice for it. What are you tired of saying no to?
5. Piracy is a compliment in disguise. My friend Colleen creates feather jewelry. Her work is stunning, playful and elegant. Recently, she came across another artist who blatantly ripped off her website copy, word for word. But although she felt distraught, I told her not to worry.
This has happened to me a number of times over the years, and more often than not, people are willing to comply. And if they’re not, you can always call a hit man. Are you worth stealing from?
6. Art without risk, isn’t. Tolstoy once said that art is an infection. Interestingly, the word “infect” comes from the Latin root “to put into.” Which brings up a key question: What does your art put into its viewer? Because if people walk away from your work uninfected, you failed.
As I learned from Linchpin, if the gift of your art doesn’t change someone for the better, it’s not art – it’s a commodity. The best suggestion I can make is: Bare it. Infection will be inevitable. Like I told a recent mentoring client, “The minute you feel yourself reaching for that delete button, leave it in. Keep your work bloody.”
People want you to matter to them. They want your work to change them for the better. Figure out what you want to infect people with, and make sure it seeps through every micro-moment. How naked are you willing to be?
REMEMBER: When you’re ready to play for keeps, your work will never be the same.
Make the decision today.
Show the world that your art isn’t just another expensive hobby.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Have you committed with both feet yet?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “52 Random Insights to Grow Your Business,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
Now booking for 2011-2012!
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