Your art is not your business

“When you learn to trust yourself implicitly, you no longer need to prove something through your art.
You simply allow it to come out, to be as it is.”
– John Daido Loori (The Zen of Creativity)

Yesterday I had the joy to be reminded of the way normal people do things.
About the best practice in the industry of coaching, entrepreneurship, and even art to an extend.
Or maybe NOT art!
Maybe that is the whole thing – these sensible ways of doing things, only come into play once you STOP seeing what you re doing as art!
But as a business instead.
As something that can be learned, done correctly, and then the results will come.
I m not going to look down on people who can “build” a business (business? Life!) this way. And especially not on those who can combine it with their creative endeavors or spiritual, intangible talents.
Good for you.
I am incapable of doing that. And in the words of Vincent van Gogh in the movie At Eternity’s Gate:
“Believe me, I tried.”
If I mastered an inauthentic way to make me millions?
I would not hesitate to use it.
But the problem is:
I do not master such a skill.
And these attempts to earn far less than millions even, have cost me money, time and energy, AND have kept me from doing it my own way.
A way which may not have brought me anything, in a worldly sense, but at least it would not have been completely wasted on doing something that wasn’t me.
A term that really spoke to me, was “Renaissance Business”:
It’s for people who pursue multiple interests, and especially the ones who have them simultaneously. In my case it’s writing, thinking, yoga. It’s tempting to add entrepreneurship, but I see that more as an expression of the other three.
Technically even the writing is an expression of the thinking.
I m a Thinker and an Expressionist.
But let’s get not too abstract, and call my skills writing, thinking, yoga.
So a renaissance business, is based on a desire to apply all of your talents. It’s not based on market research, not on a niche, and not on connecting with your target audience.
In a renaissance business you’re not going to moderate your talents, sensor them, turn them inside out and tie a bow to them;
Until they start making you money.
It would be both undesirable as well as next to impossible. Either because you’re offering your talents separately, for example consultancy and photography. In which case you d have to do market research on two markets, and communicate to two entirely separated (and made-up!) audiences.
Which is practically impossible, not to mention excruciating and awful.
OR
If you re offering a new product that combines your skills, for example consultancy through photography, it’s impossible to be considerate of what your target audience wants to see, and what problem you will be solving for them, because your service is unique.
So even though the term renaissance business, refers to people having multiple talents, it makes it clear that authenticity, and authenticity alone, is the fastest, the purest, the no-fail road to making any business work;
Because it is the ONLY business you ll never regret having.
An expression of your true self.
In the conversation I was having yesterday, it became clear to me (and I was very happy with this knowledge!) that I behave in exactly the opposite way, when it comes to what I ll do for an employer.
Now there are limits to this.
Best described as “the Lighthouse Effect”.
I am a very dominant woman. And this annoys in particular (if not to say exclusively!) the people I don’t give my attention to. Which explains why I get haters just walking the street and minding my own business.
So.
Although I would love to change that for an employer, to fit in and accommodate their vision of where the company is going, which may not include big lighthouses: All I can do is turn off the light.
Which, let’s be honest, isn’t going to do much good.
If I turn off the lights, I m a huge tower doing nothing – which will be even more annoying- but I m also of no use to people looking for the shore, or trying to determine where they are.
I have not suddenly transformed into a handy flashlight.
Instead I ve become completely useless.
Now what I can do, is give the signal that matches with where we are.
“I m not an evil lighthouse,” I said to my friend yesterday. “I m not going to signal we’re on Texel, when I m standing on Vlieland.”
Referring to two Dutch islands next to each other.
But aside from those, let’s say physical limitations, I don’t have any moral obligations or pressing desire to “be myself” when somebody else is paying me to work for them.
It’s almost like I ve completely compartmentalized my approach to making money:
My own business is an expression of the real me, which will not be altered, filtered, or adjusted in order to speak to the people/market/niche.
But at the same time I know it is this business, that will last me a lifetime and that will grow into a sustainable income from people who love my work, and who will buy (or at least tolerate! 😉 ) whatever my renaissance mind comes up with.
In my opinion, one fan of my renaissance business equals the value of an entire year working for an employer. And that’s without them actually buying anything!
Having, building, creating my own business, will always be the ultimate way of taking care of my soul and long-term work satisfaction and income alike.
It’s the ultimate self-care.
But.
When it comes to being of value to a company, or working on a contract: I want to give them what THEY want.
And I can explain why I think that me working my strengths is going to pay off, but ultimately, it’s not my call. It’s not my business, what they want to sell or how they want to sell it.
Once you start working for a boss, because your own business is not making money currently or maybe never, or maybe you don’t even have your own biz:
It’s time to stop doing it your way.
So then? YES! Aim to please!
But in your own biz?
NO!!!
I know there are a lot of people “managing” their own career, and doing their job in a way that develops them and I m like:
Naaaah.
Not for me.
I think what I m really doing, or what became clear to me when we were having this conversation yesterday, and I think we were both surprised – if not appalled! – of how easy it was for me to see myself adapting to my environment;
The reason WHY I think playing by the rules, and doing all the things you’d never do if you were in charge, is a good thing if you’re on a payroll:
Because then you re in line with the authenticity of that company.
You re aligning yourself with their identity, and the way it flows there.
You’re letting what comes naturally within your work environment, come out. All by itself. You re not altering it.
You re being that same instrument of God, of the Universe, and let the message and the vision for that place and time that you are working for, come out!
So it was a very interesting conversation to have, with my friend.
Because at first it’s weird right?
Why would you/ I be so resistant to being a little more client/market friendly when it comes to offering my own services – and then become successful at that, and not even needing a job!
And then at the same time I would completely adjust to however or whatever it is, that the company I work for does.
It doesn’t make sense to be a 100% me in one place, and far less me, somewhere else, and feel good about that.
But now I understand.
And I think it could be helpful for others too:
Let what you do be dependent on who you’re serving.
If you re serving you re clients, you do market research.
If you re serving your employer, you tune into that.
And if you serve God, you call it art.
And if you have your own company, you can either choose working for the market, at the expense of expressing yourself and building an authentic business.
Or you can say:
No.
I m serving God.
And all I do is allowing it to come out.
And to be as it is.

~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

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