Fear does not only mean there is a gun pointed at your head or some similar threat. In fact, physical threats are not the deepest fear we all face for the simple reason it will be over one way or another. No, the deepest fear is being seen, or worse, ignored for the essence of who we are even if the very reason the relationship exists is BECAUSE of this essence. This fear is pervasive and all too often never ending. For me, this is the genesis of most “isms” when it comes to creative business, the biggest being sexism (gender and/or sexual identity/orientation) and racism.
Intimidation and bias is baked in and becoming sensitive to that fact in an effort to improve the business of creation is always a worthwhile endeavor. We have to challenge what exists, sometimes (ok, often) break it down before we can rebuild it more strongly in an artist’s image. We have to move through “I am doing it wrong” to the place where we can definitively say the voice of the art is stronger because of the path paved by the business behind the art.
There is no emotion here and our humanity into the overlay of culture and its impact on all of us leads to consequences that force compromise. If you do not want to be perceived as “difficult” or “rigid” or “pedantic”, you shave off the edges. And the risk of you not being able to do your best grows. Literally, you silence the voice of your business that exists solely to be your champion. Like throwing down the shield to hope that the arrows will not hurt. No, no and no.
The wisdom of universal creation — faith that your ability to transcend the knowable with your art — is behind every single creative business I can think of. It must be honored if you are to find lasting success, both for you and your client. The fight today is to compel the intrinsic value that lies within universal creation so that it might become manifest. Today though, more than ever, we swim in the sea of creation with those who do not appreciate either the depth of the water or its ability to transcend. These are intimidating people and is a powerful basis for fear and a reason to hide in the “easy to understand”. COVID has forced our hand here though and demanded that we call out these bullies for what they are. “Getting to yes” sucked pre-COVID and is a disaster now. In the context of creative business, it means that, regardless of who you are as a person, your business needs to speak loudest of the truth it represents.
How we go about getting to the essence of why you and your creative business exist, ironically, is to honor the humanity in the relationship — the power within each of us to touch another with our gifts. To transcend the known. No doubt, some may not get there and that will just have to be. For the rest of us, be present to the relationship in front of you, frailty and strength all at once and hold the center for where it might bring us all. To be clear, this relationship is, by definition, imbalanced, you must earn the right to hold all the power, to extinguish authentic voice of your client beyond the idea stage and to move unimpeded in the journey’s path that your creative business alone has set.
Hard, mindful work is its own reward. My naïveté is that we can level the playing field to give all creative businesses a chance at finding those who care most about their work and vice-versa. If a black heterosexual female wedding planner is the best artist to handle the wedding of two white men, then my hope, my deep unbinding prayer, is that that is exactly what will happen. We have a long long way to go, no doubt. This is the work though and how we can do better tomorrow. Clients will have their own biases and that is on them, it is just that great work finds its own audience, most often bigger and broader than imagined.
Practically, though, it means that every creative business owner needs to do the deep, intrinsic analysis on their businesses first. Why should I entrust the essence of my very life — my home, my wedding, my building, my image — to your business if you do not know your own narrative, how to take me on the journey that I need to go on with you for me to experience the world as you would have me? I might be the subject of the story, but you are the story teller. It is not hard to do good business if you have the courage to own the story of your creative business as only you would tell it. And if you do not have that courage, please forgive yourself, ask to find it and, if not possible, just get out of the way for those that do.
As we tear down the biases and seek to heal the gashes at the fabric of our society, we will all want the placebo of saying look at what we are doing. That just is not good enough. No one needs a gift, we need authentic connection and real opportunity to express that connection across all platforms. This will take time and conviction.
There is no part of me that does not understand millennia of indoctrination of other as being superior and the systemic, powerfully cultural underpinning to perpetuate the imbalance of power and its awful consequence. As a people, I pray we move to find a way to dismantle this construct and will support anyone who works to achieve this goal.
However, when it comes to your creative business, you must let your business speak for you, plainly and true. It boils down to this: you and your art change the world when you are given the stage to do your best work. No client ever pays for your best under the circumstances. As you know your art is bigger than you, so to your business. If it is beautiful is when it is done, how you get to done is entirely up to you. That is your truth, your reality. Your clients have the choice to live there or not, they do not have the ability to change it. Let that be your North Star.