Clearing The Pipes

by seanlow on April 4, 2016

Until you know exactly what it feels like to be true to your art and the essence of your creative business, no change will be effective. You have to strip away the gunk in the pipes before you can talk about what water needs to flow through it. The gunk are all those things that happen over time (or for new businesses, in your minds’ preconceptions) which are distractions and dead-ends to the core of your creative business.

The reasons are myriad – sounded like a good idea at the time; you needed the money; it is the way your colleagues do it; and so on. In the end though, the gunk just causes confusion. Your styling service now that you do only complete design. “Day of” planning when you just completed your first million dollar destination wedding. Keeping an inventory of candles since they hardly get used at your events. Charging by the hour when the work is about presentation.

Once you figure out the best way for you to take your clients up the mountain – what the process is, when you define your value deliverables, how you are to move from each deliverable to the next – you have to clear out the pipes. Whatever does not serve your process, your value delivery, has to go. Whether it is a line of business, a part of your contract, an employee, or just stuff, it has to go.

Will it be easy to clear out the pipes? Of course not. It sticks because you and your creative business are comfortable in the dysfunction. And you can always rationalize the gunk’s existence. Hey, it pays the bills. We are just used to doing it this way. What would we do if we stopped?

Let the lens be different. Does this allow you to do your best work? If “this” does not, ask why you would need to keep it? You will hear your justifications screaming at you. Then ask yourself about your legacy. If you make your best work beyond challenging or even impossible, will that be enough for you. Forget about the money, will you look back and be proud of what you created, of how you were able to move your clients, to transform them? Will you be grateful for the work or happy to be done? The path is always your choice.

If you do go to the place where each “this” serves your art, your creative business’ ability to do its best work, it is going to feel funny, even wrong. Change does that to us. Do not ignore it but also acknowledge that your intuition might be off.

Turn on a hose, put your finger over the nozzle. When you create the spray, it feels intense, powerful. Take your finger off. Looks like a trickle and far less powerful. And yet the water flows into the hose at the same speed.

Your finger is the gunk, take it away and you know how the water actually flows. What was once a sprint and ultra-pressured, may no longer be. In the slower pace, there needs to be contemplation about what is necessary, not just the need to put your finger back on the hose. From there you will be able to decide if you need to truly change the actual flow. And knowing what you want the actual flow to be is where lasting and meaningful change comes from. Gunk out first, real change second.

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