I was talking to one of my oldest friends, and itinerant client, John, last night. He’s an amazing designer/artist wrestling with deciding when his work is good enough to expose to the world. I think we all know the feeling. We’ve been working on something really hard and we just can’t seem to get it to the point where we’re ready to risk exposing it to other people.
John is creating these beautiful, elaborate structures (I’m dying to see them) that require difficult engineering. He’s been wrestling with materials and techniques and marketing and audience – well, you get the picture. It’s a massive undertaking from a technical standpoint. And he’s been working on it for a while.
How do you decide?
One of the things that he considers is who will buy his art, which leads to the question of how to get to those people. Which then leads to the question of how refined his work needs to be for that market. Which then leads to questions about how to get to that point, how to figure out a good price point, and how much is enough product to sell.
As we were talking, I had this thought that his work needs to be let out to speak for itself – that his art is actually begging to be let out in the world so it can grow and develop and manifest its own potential.
Maybe that’s a radical concept. You see, I have this mantra based on one of the basic laws of physics (even though I flunked physics, I get this part) – no energy ever leaves the system. So, following that logic, I realized that the energy John is sowing in his work needs to be released to grow. I get the feeling that his work is fighting him, daring him to let it out. It’s just about time to let his babies go.
Our work acquires its own energy
Here’s the thing. When we create projects, they acquire their own energy. Part of that energy is ours and part of it belongs solely to the project. We’ve all heard authors talk about how a certain character just took over the book they were writing and that character ended up being the voice of the book. And, the author has no idea where that voice came from. It was just there.
Exactly. Right? The voice was just there because the energy of the work and the energy of the author created that voice.
I believe that we have to release our energy and our work to create new energy – heck, we have to release energy to attract energy. So, John has to think about the power in releasing the energy of his work into the world.
Let go of that death grip
I talk a lot about how we strangle ideas and potential by holding on to our limited perceptions of how things should be instead of loosening our hold on them. When we clutch an idea or experience or child or piece of work in a death grip, it can’t move; it can’t breathe; it can’t expand; it can’t find its own energy.
The odds are in your favor, always
So what are we to do? How do we release our most precious and important work to the scrutiny of a hard, hard world? Well, first, we get rid of the thought of it being a hard, hard world. The Universe conspires in our favor, not against us. So, we shift to thinking that an integral part of the answer to our questions about our work is only available if and when we dare to put our work out in the Universe!
Listen, it’s more than showing our work to our friends, or talking about our work with anyone who will listen. I really do believe that finding the answers requires us to stomp out our thoughts and expectations about judgment and evaluation and worthiness.
Because, seriously? Those thoughts are really us judging both ourselves and the world. We’re not trusting that the investment of our precious creative energies could possibly yield a magnificent outcome.
So we have to take a big breath and turn that project, that child, that poem, that book, that speech, that marketing campaign (that one’s for me) over to the infinite energy that supports and surrounds us. Then, we keep our hearts and minds wide open. We keep our hearts and minds wide open so that we can recognize the guidance that appears before us. We suspend our own judgement and limited perspective.
Because, really? Babies only grow when you let them go!
John has been my friend, fellow flautist, competitor, compatriot, cheerleader, ballast, and life saver since we were 8 years old. Since my birthday was this week, I thought I’d share a photo of the birthday card he sent me on my 32nd birthday, decades ago. It’s still on my shelf. When you have friends like John, you know the Universe is on your side.