I went to Design School, and I really struggled. Why? Because they talked about ‘concept’ and what I felt were other ‘wishy washy’ ideas.
I wanted concrete answers: Numbers. Facts. How-to’s.
And the fact that I couldn’t get them drove me insane.
The truth is, I don’t really like getting messy in my head.
I like clarity. I like ONE answer. I like ‘right vs wrong’.
In one of my first classes at Design School I almost got kicked out. I just couldn’t understand the ‘conceptual’ idea, no matter how I tried.
So when someone found a homework example on the computers in the lab for us to copy, I totally jumped on board and did so.
I had no idea how to think for myself. I was always looking for those step-by-step ‘how to’s’, so it made perfect sense for me to go ahead and copy it all down.
Of all the people to get caught out for ‘copying’ it was me! This was one of many MASSIVE lessons I learned in my 4 years at Design School.
And I’m so thankful today for that particular lesson.
You see, it turns out the reason I got caught was because the example I copied could not have been more ‘wrong’.
That experience taught me the importance of doing my own work to get the results I desired, instead of assuming someone else is ‘getting it right’ and then going off and copying what they’re doing – only to wonder why it is not working.
My years as a designer and then an art director taught me, slowly but surely, to embrace this messy ‘creative process’ of finding my own answers. And, over time, I learnt that being ‘comfortable with uncertainty’ was the key to finding the gold in creative work.
This is a skill I have honed over the years to create truly unique work, in my own voice.
First with multiple international awards in advertising and now in working for myself.
A recent new team member told me, “I wanted to work for you because I believe you are the most copied person on the internet right now. I didn’t want to work for those asking me to copy your work – I wanted to find out who you were and work directly for you.”
When she told me that, I wasn’t sure whether it was a compliment, but I can now see that being unique has also scored me an awesome team player!
For most of us it is very scary to get our hands dirty and play with ideas, because it means staying in the uncertainty of ‘not knowing’ the outcome (until we start to trust and really mine for that gold).
I take the ladies in my UPswing mastermind through this process to find their ideal target market and their own unique purposeful packages – and when I do this, resistance arises every time.
And just like I did, they slowly but surely learn to love the process.
I like to look at it like pottery making:
You start with a massive lump of clay and throw it at the pottery wheel.
It looks like nothing!
And you start getting your hands mucky – easing the clay in one direction and then another.
And it still looks like nothing!
Then you keep crafting it a bit more here; a bit less here.
And it still looks like nothing.
But over time – slowly but surely – the pottery starts to take shape.
You might walk away overnight and then come back the next day and see it with fresh eyes and start tinkering away again.
And eventually, you’re looking at the finished 'truly unique' piece!
Think about it – a pot is never made in one hour - a painting is not painted in a day – and a great business idea is never ‘just there’ either.
This is the ‘hard work’ than most entrepreneurs/coaches are not willing to go through.
It’s why so many people are just copying other people’s work with no thought of their own.
They’re scared to go through the creative process. They forget that going through this process is what brings about ART.
It’s what sets some apart from the others and creates successful, heart-centred and authentic businesses.
And it’s what sets coaches who have really done their work apart from those who are copying programs they assume work, instead of creating something unique that their ideal clients actually want to buy.
In the comments, let me know how you are going to get messy and dig into your creativity to mine for your authentic gold to shape your business. You might find that to get messy you enjoy music up loud, or working from a café? Maybe to edit you need to be in silence?
I was staying with a friend recently and she needed absolute silence to be creative, while I needed to head to the café for music and caffeine (yup – even though I’m an introvert, I’ve learnt this much about my creativity). I’d love to hear from you in the comments where you like to create and do you have resistance to facing the creative process at times too?