|Posted on 8 August, 2019 at 6:05||comments (0)|
It's not the style that motivates me, as much as an attitude of openness that I have when I go into a project.
Openness is a valuable attitude to have in any area of one's life, personal and professional. It is that quality of always being willing to consider new / different experiences, ideas and ways of looking at things. It often entails stepping out of your comfort zone, leading to all kinds of delights. It can also be a bit risky and indeed part of the openness has to be of it going "wrong", but even that can be a contribution to growth and learning.
Being open doesn't mean you automatically say "yes" to every new experience, although that could be a fun thing to try for a day. However, it does mean that if you do decide to say "no", at least it is coming from having given the invitation proper consideration. It is not just a knee jerk reaction coming out of fear or a "that's not how I usually do it" frame of mind. And you never know where new experiences might lead.
I was once part of a team of freelancers delivering an afternoon of workshops as part of the Artsmart programme. I kicked off proceedings with a talk about Vision. When I was approached to do it I said okay and I really enjoyed the experience.
Two years previously, I was approached by another group to do a talk on the same subject. My very first reaction was to say no. Why? Because like Sheldon Cooper and an awful lot of other people, I didn't like speaking in front of "any group big enough to trample me to death"*. I had all those fears everyone has - why should anyone listen to me; what if I forget what to say; what if they think I am boring...yadda, yadda, yadda. But I also knew in the back of my mind that this kind of public talk was a good thing for passing on information and ideas. So, under the cover of asking for more details, I gave myself time to screw up my courage and then said okay.
You know what? My first talk bombed. Absolutely. Completely. Utterly. I have never been asked back. The most entertaining part was watching tumbleweeds roll across the room during the awkward silences. I came home having decided that I would never do a talk again. Oh, but.... I had already said yes to doing the same talk a week later and short of feigning illness or losing my voice, I had to deliver.
I could have made myself sick with worry by lingering on the bad experience. And I am not too proud to admit that I did have a morning of indulgent, “woe is me”, misery. Then I realised that both for my sake and that of my audience, I had to open my mind to the possibility that the next talk would be a fabulous experience. I spent a day going through every aspect of the talk, tightening it up and making it flow better. Then I spent time every day practising it. Then I delivered it in front of a real audience. And you know what? We all had a ball!
Since then I have done talks and webinars and although I still get nervous before I start, through doing them I have met some wonderful people, had great feedback and been offered lots of other great opportunities.
So, where will being openminded lead you today?
*The Big Bang Theory: Series 03 Episode 18 – The Pants Alternative https://bigbangtrans.wordpress.com/series-3-episode-18-the-pants-alternative/
|Posted on 13 June, 2019 at 5:50||comments (0)|
Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels
There is something which I frequently come across when working with clients which always surprises me.
For example, a sculptor will be willing to hand over their precious wood, clay or metal sculpture to a specialist who will create a mold and make a bronze version.
A painter or photographer will be happy to hand their work over to a specialist framer.
A composer will hand over their music to an arranger.
They will be happy to trust their deeply personal and irreplaceable work to a professional who will use their expertise and experience to complete or enhance the work and the creative is happy to let that happen.
But often, that creative person will not have thought about getting an accountant to do all the boring but necessary paperwork which most people dislike.
Or a marketer who can run their social media campaign or research and contact potential galleries/exhibitions.
Or a fundraiser who can write funding applications on their behalf.
Or an assistant who can run their studios for them.
When setting goals, creative people will think about getting a workspace, a great commission or being in a position to hire creative specialist help. However, they don't seem to think about also aiming to get someone to do all the more mundane but essential day to day stuff which would free them up to be more creative (and potentially earning more money).
This can be for various reasons, including:
• they just hadn't thought about it
• they think it will be too expensive
• they think they have to run every aspect of their business themselves
• they think it is too indulgent to hire others "just" to help them
• they can't afford it now
• they think goal setting is just about the exciting stuff!
If you are hiring people on a project by project basis, it can work out cheaper than doing the work yourself, time when you could be earning.
When you are starting out, you probably have to do everything yourself and that is valuable as you certainly have to know your own business and be on top of it, but as time goes on, you can delegate.
Not being able to afford it now is also a perfectly valid reason - but how about having a goal such as, "in a year's time, I will be earning enough to hire a book keeper for 2 hours a month"?
For all of its' considerable benefits, working for yourself can be hard work. If you are prepared to have someone help you with the creative work, why not aim towards getting someone to help you with the other stuff as well?
|Posted on 5 June, 2019 at 3:20||comments (0)|
"What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette
I am always talking about having a vision and looking forward to new challenges and ideas. I am a very firm believer that if you have something to move towards, it can inspire you and make you accomplish more than you had thought possible.
However, I would put in a word of caution.
Sometimes we can be so intent on getting to the goal ahead of us that we miss out on the wonderful things along the way. These could be things which could help us achieve our goals, they could be things which we enjoy and which nourish us.
By only looking ahead, we can also lose sight of some of the best bits of ourselves. We think about how things might be better when we are more skilled, more experienced, have more time, etc., and we can often forget to acknowledge how much is right with us and our lives now.
Look at what you have to be thankful for and what is working in your life now. This is the foundation from which you can begin to build your future.
Go for your goals, but don't forget to enjoy the journey.
|Posted on 29 May, 2019 at 5:10||comments (0)|
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
In the past couple of weeks, I have heard two very contrasting attitudes to birthdays.
On one side, a friend was pleased that he had managed to stretch his birthday over two weekends. At the other side of the scale, a younger client was bemoaning yet another candle on the cake, saying she did not celebrate birthdays anymore.
Personally, I am in the first camp. This is in part because I like any opportunity for a celebration. It is also because the birthday will happen whether I celebrate it or not, so why not try and make the best of it. (And on my recent 'significant' birthday, I can assure you I celebrated in style!)
And if you think birthdays are awful, consider the alternative. Whilst I have been lucky and most deaths personal to me have been ‘timely’ - in ripe old age, with long lives well lived - my best friend died at 44, my cousin and another good friend in their mid-forties. They thought they still had lots of potential, lots of time left when they could have been counting off the years, but they never got the chance.
I often use birthdays as milestones with clients. Looking 5 or 10 years ahead, or using the New Year are all useful markers. However, setting a goal to be reached by the next birthday, or one of the ‘big’ ones (with a 0 at the end of it), immediately creates a more personal timeframe.
It also means that when the birthday arrives, you have a double celebration, reaching the age and the goal.
So before you look in dread at the birthday on the horizon, think of one thing you would like to achieve, however big or small. Instead of hiding under a metaphorical duvet, use the unavoidable fact of your birthday as a tool to pull you forward to a day of happiness.
|Posted on 25 April, 2019 at 4:00||comments (0)|
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – either way you will be right”
Martin Luther King Jnr
I have written before about the importance of having a vision. This is really powerful and if you write it down, draw it, or make a mood board, you can read/look at your vision paper whenever you want. But how can you keep it real, as they say, everyday? Particularly on a bad day?
One way is to distil your vision into a few words, an affirmation that means something to you. Your subconscious mind will give you exactly what you tell it. By repeating an affirmation again and again, you will hard wire your mind to think positively and your vision will become more of a reality to you. (Don’t believe me? Have you ever felt a bit bleurgh but have had to mentally gee yourself up because you were going to a party, meeting friends, etc., and didn’t want to be a wet blanket? It’s just the same principle. If you are into musicals, it is just like Deborah Kerr in 'The King and I' whistling a happy tune.)
How do you go about creating your affirmation?
The first place to start is with yourself. This affirmation is all about you, what you want and how you want to inspire yourself. So this is one occasion when the key word is “I”, for example:
• I am a great artist
• I am a successful writer
• I am awash with creativity
• I am a great public speaker
• I love networking
• I am confident
Notice something else about those statements? They are all quite short. These are sentences you want to be able to remember and repeat quickly to yourself, so you don’t want an essay. Also, the subconscious mind likes simplicity.
Did you also notice that all the statements are positive? Affirmations must be done with an upbeat twist. Why? You have to focus on what you do want because whatever you think, your mind conjures up. Don’t think of a blue rabbit in a tutu. Ah ha, I said don’t think of a blue rabbit in a tutu, but I reckon that little bunny is hopping around your brain just now. Blue bunnies are not a problem, but if your affirmation is “I don’t want to be a failure”, it puts the concept of failure into the brain. And be honest, which one is more inspiring:
• I don’t want to be ill
• I am healthy
The last thing about the affirmations is that you put them in the present tense. This is telling your subconscious mind what you want in a way that makes it real. If you say “I will be a successful artist”, there is still a bit of doubt with the “will”. When you say, “I am a successful artist”, you can start believing in it and behaving accordingly, which can give you confidence.
Obviously, it doesn’t matter how much you say something if you don’t put in the work to make it happen. However, if you have the vision, your affirmation is a little language device you can use to keep you on track and give you confidence.
Many years ago, I went to the excellent ‘Best Year Yet’ workshop run by Jinny Ditzler and I created the affirmation for myself: “I am everything I need, to be everything I want”. This has helped me when I want to try out new things and more forward. I also have another affirmation which is at the back of my mind when with clients: “I light the blue touch paper”.
What affirmation will take you to your vision?
|Posted on 28 March, 2019 at 11:10||comments (0)|
Can you remember all the things you have done in your professional career?
I ask because in recent weeks, it is a common thread which has woven its way through client conversations. In the busyness of day to day professional life, we can forget some of the great work we have done in the past, or it has got lost as it was a small part of a bigger project. It could also be that we do not recognise the relevance of what we have done in the hurry of actually doing it.
Every so often, it is worth sitting down with your CV, a blank piece of paper and a pen (or a computer if you prefer) and write down everything you did as part of a particular job / project. (This is relevant even if you are just starting out – look at any extra curricular projects you did at school / university which gave you new skills.) For example, a long time ago I had a post as an administrator with a charity and did all the usual administratory things you would expect. But along the way, under that great job description catchall of “and any other duties...”, I curated an exhibition of Shona sculpture at the Commonwealth Institute and managed large conferences.
Once you have gone through your CV, add in anything you have done on a voluntary basis. Because we do this type of work out of a personal commitment, we often forget to acknowledge what we might have learned. (For example, in my voluntary life, I have developed very good group management skills through chairing boards.)
Okay, we’ve done professional and voluntary lives, what about your life “outside” your professional practice everyday life? Think about all the skills and experience you have there.
Yes, okay, with some of these, you might need to develop the skills further, but you already have a good introduction.
What is the point of doing all this work?
If you want to move into another area of work and need to make an application for a job or project, seeing what you have already done can give you valuable evidence which you can add to your CV / covering letter / project brief, as well as giving you confidence that you have already had relevant experience.
If you aren’t sure which direction you want to move into, it can give you a great overview of options, things you might not have immediately considered. For example, my running conferences could be a great opening for a new career in event management.
Even if you think you don’t have particular experience, you can often find that skills you have are transferrable. For example, you may see a piece of work as successfully creating a piece of sculpture to be installed at a particular gallery on a particular date. In business skills terms, straight away we are looking at time management, logistics, client liaison, resource management, budgeting...
Another important element to all this is that it gives you a chance to sit back and acknowledge exactly what you can do and have achieved to date. You would be surprised how many of us forget just how versatile and great we are on a day to day basis!
Block yourself out half an hour, get a cup of your favourite beverage and do your own skills audit. At the end, read it through then say, “Yeah, that’s me and I’m great!” Then look how you can use all these newly recognised skills to move your practice forward.
|Posted on 21 March, 2019 at 5:55||comments (0)|
With Easter a few weeks away and the sun streaming through my office window, it looks like Spring has sprung!
It's time to open the windows, get some fresh air through the place and spring clean your home. Why not harness the energy of the season and spring clean your professional life?
Here are five tips on giving your career a Spring boost.
1. Take a fresh look at your vision.
Do you know where you want to be in five years? Is your vision still pulling you forward? Remind yourself why this vision is important to you and how you will feel when you achieve it. If your vision needs tweaking, this is a great time to do it so that it is challenging and exciting. If you don't have a vision, get out into the sun and give yourself time to let your mind create your future.
2. Spring clean your space.
Set aside time to go through all your files, drawers, cupboards, etc., in your workspace. It gives you a chance to throw out anything which is cluttering your space, redesign your space and it can also throw up ideas and opportunities.
3. Take a new look at things.
We can all get into a rut, doing things the same way because it is how you have always done it. During the course of a week, check out all the things you do regularly. For each thing, ask yourself "is this the best way to do this? Would another way be more stimulating or effective? Could I even get someone else to do it?" If you are happy with the way it is going, great! If not, how could you change it?
4. Meet new people.
Find opportunities to mix with different people who can inspire and stimulate ideas. They could become clients, collaborators or friends or just spark new ways of seeing things.
5. Refresh your self belief.
Embrace your talents, your passions, your creativity, your drive and develop your positive attitude. If you believe you can do it, you will enrol others in your vision.
|Posted on 14 March, 2019 at 4:25||comments (0)|
In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?
Re-connecting people (including myself!) with their creativity. My soap box is that we all too often out-source our creativity to others and that can be a huge detriment to our health. I love seeing the spark of joy in a customer, student or audience's eye when they get that creative muscle working - whether that be through designing something that I make for them, mastering a new stitch, or connecting with something I’ve said at a talk I’m giving. We give away so much of our agency when we delegate our creativity by blindly following trends and ideologies. Never mind missing out on all the opportunities our creativity gives us to understand who we really are and therefore uncovering the treasure that we have to offer the world.
Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?
For my personal development my current is Elizabeth Gilbert after attending her Big Magic workshop nearly a year ago. As well as 'Eat Pray Love' being a touching and inspiring read, the depth that Liz goes to in her self-exploration is really connecting. A friend and I meet once a month to practice the Big Magic writing exercise and it is so helpful in uncovering unconscious feelings and checking in with where we are and where we want to be. For more “professional” inspiration I’ve recently discovered Vanessa Barragao a textile artist based in Portugal and her coral tapestries www.vanessabarragao.com - phenomenal!
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?
I was lucky to have people support me right from the beginning by encouraging me to follow my intuition. That voice told me to go slow and follow what feels good. I don’t think, for me, I’d have done it any other way. Actually I do have one thing, build your email list!
If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?
Step away, file the “wrong” answer away for when it is the right time, and make room for the “right” answer to take its place. Physically moving in nature is always helpful.
And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?
Ideally at my best an Ugg boot! Soft, cosy, casual and nurturing. But otherwise more of a supportive trainer (oh where is the glamour?!).
|Posted on 14 February, 2019 at 3:30||comments (0)|
"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world."
Wherever you look today, there are Valentine’s Day cards, chocolates, menus, flowers, champagne, meal deals, jewellery, perfume, … all the things you need to declare your love for your partner. (Although I’ve found a big hug and “I love you” works just as well as baubles, but then I’m not trying to sell a product.)
In the middle of all the proclamations of love to others, are you remembering to love yourself?
I don’t mean loving yourself once you’ve lost that weight, got that promotion, found that man, sculpted those abs. I mean loving yourself now, even with all those little flaws that probably only you see or care about. It is about treating yourself with self respect, compassion, kindness, affection, tenderness, all the qualities you would bring to your relationship with your best friend.
Sometimes people have problems with loving themselves, thinking it is selfish or arrogant. But in fact, it will make you more confident and happy and that can only impact positively on those around you. It can help you to achieve your goals and dreams.
So how do you do this? Well, better people than me have written countless books on this, but for starters, you can take a leaf out of Queen Latifah’s book: “When I was around 18, I looked in the mirror and said, 'You're either going to love yourself or hate yourself.' And I decided to love myself. That changed a lot of things.”
And yes okay, why not buy yourself some flowers to celebrate loving yourself?
|Posted on 7 February, 2019 at 7:25||comments (1)|
I have a ‘Begin’ Book which I use to start my day. It started by accident.
When I was going through the coaching process to find a route to my new career (leading me to where I am today), my late coach, Cherry Douglas, encouraged me to find and keep anything which set me thinking about possible new careers. These include postcards, images from magazines, phrases from job descriptions, feedback from colleagues, headlines from articles. There were thought provoking, inspiring or just things I liked the look of. The idea was to keep them with no judgement and every so often, pull out 2 or 3 at random to imaging possible new careers.
When the exercise of collection was over, I was left with a couple of box files of material. Some I was happy to let go of and it went into the recycling bin. But other pieces had a longer lasting resonance and I wanted to keep them. They would help to remind me of my aims for my new career and focus me on a daily basis.
I bought a spiral bound scrapbook with hard covers - at first, this was just from the aspect of longevity and ease of use, but I soon discovered another purpose. I could open the book at any page and stand it up on my desk. The book also has a ribbon tie and that has added to my daily ritual.
When I get into my office every work day, I undo the ribbon tie and open the book at random.
I stand the book open at those pages next to my desk and these pages create the context for my day.
If I lose my rhythm or motivation, I can look at the pages and remind myself of my daily context. It gives me a boost, a refocus. And if I am really stuck, I can flick through the book or check the pitch at the back of the book where I keep thank you letters from clients.
At the end of the day, I close the book and retie the ribbon. (As a solopreneur, this is also a useful physical reminder for starting and ending my work day!)
It is a simple tool, but one which helps to start my day and keep me on track.
If you need support in getting started and keeping on track, get in touch and see how we might be able to work together.