We work, we endure any measure of hardship for the hope of joy as much for joy itself. We strive to be better fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, partners, people not for the world but for our own internal compass. Integrity is the choice to do better, be better. Courage and honor the ability to abide by the choice in the face of the insurmountable.
Building a business can be about vanity, gobbling, voracious desire to overcome, dominate. In the effort, you can acquire the resources that may one day be used to benefit everyone despite the ills that may or may not have been done in the name of greed. Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller come to mind. Or you can have your business be a reflection of the world you wish to inhabit.
My hope and prayer is that those in creative business understand the responsibility and authority you have been given. You shape imagination, give life to fantasy, inspire innovation and help us greet tomorrow without today’s limitations. Your business’ potential is based not on the newest and greatest, but faith in your art and, more importantly, your artistry. How you can move your clients, employees and even your colleagues to a new state of being is what you are called to do. You may dismiss this as too lofty a goal, too preachy or not really your job. If you do, then ask yourself why you cry at your weddings, smile a full belly smile when you see THE image out of thousands, feel viscerally moved when your design comes alive. And if you feel as you do, then what of your audience?
As much as money is part of the mission of any creative business, it can never be the larger purpose. Not because there is anything wrong with making money or having it be a primary goal. It is just that the objective is too small, too limited. Of course, no one wants you to be Van Gogh and die penniless, the work first though. Yes, the money will follow if the work is first. If you believe in the fundamental truth that nobody needs what a creative business does, then you can realize that the basis of value is irrational. It will never be about the thing, that is just stuff. It will always be about the idea that creates the thing – no matter how simple or complex. The value of the idea then is very much what you say it is. Mostly, the value of the idea is what is necessary to get you to come up with the next one.
All of which brings me to the ultimate point – creative businesses generate value from the potential for change, from that which moves us forward. Forward in every sense of the word. To do so, however, requires a spirit of partnership, a willingness to look at whoever is across the proverbial table and decide how you, your art and your creative business can make them better, improve their business, their lives. Your success will be found in helping others see in a new way, to redefine what they know to be true. We can stone Galileo for being a heretic or set about embracing the notion that the world is round. The illusion is not that tomorrow is impossible but that today is certain. No such thing.
Challenging those creative businesses and their clients who have gotten lazy or myopic will always be an opportunity. The bigger opportunity though will be to challenge it in you. The hope of joy as much as joy itself is embracing the (new) world as you may choose to see it. Your creative business is there to make it happen.