The 21 Day Challenge

by seanlow on September 25, 2017

So much has been written about changing habits, developing good habits, mapping out how you are going to sustain good habits.. The entire self-help industry is built on the notion that change comes from intention, intention to habitual practice, practice to success. Some people tip toe in, I will cut back to 2 hours of Netflix binging a day; others go further – I am going Amish.  No comment on what works for you personally. However, for your creative business, change has to be much more radical. Two reasons.

Incremental change – like raising your prices just a little bit or shrinking your packages from five to three only serve to raise up your competition. Incremental change can almost never be justified as intention to serve your client better. It almost always looks like a money grab, or worse, a reaction to an unfortunate situation (i.e., a nightmare client). Incremental change is based on a desire to prevent history from repeating itself and not on what the future ought to look like. Big difference. So your competition almost always gets to say, “She is only doing this because….” And the “because” is the start of a dig – too busy, too big, too too, with they, the competition, being the rose who is not too too.

If you are really going to grow, really going to evolve, you have to leap into the abyss. Leaping into the abyss means doing the things you are terrified of – not knowing if what you are about to do is at all possible.

If you charge ten but need to charge twenty, you cannot inch to twenty, you have to do it today so that you can get to the business of why twenty is the right number. If you are not throwing up in your mouth a little when the outrageous comes out, you are doing it wrong.

The thing is though that you cannot leap with everything at once, be radical everywhere. Going from Luddite to all things tech. Ironically, upending everything (or way too much at once) is your excuse to make no change at all because a complete overhaul is impossible to sustain. Baby out with the bathwater and you will inevitably go back to what was.  With no thought of an oxymoron, the goal is to be comfortably radical in the notion that there will incrementally radical positions to take. Translation: jump into the abyss with the knowledge that you will be making another jump into another abyss tomorrow.

For some of you, living to your design statement, why you do what you do when you do it, will be enough. For others, it will be about pricing and timing of payments. Others will be about communication and decision-making. It makes not difference what the abyss looks like so long as your stare into it and leap.

My challenge for you and your creative business is to find the one aspect of your creative business that you are most scared of, the one that needs the most attention and evolution. Imagine what the evolved state looks like without any sort of filter. I want to charge a $50,000 design fee. I will not work on projects that do not have a budget of at least $250,000. Now live there for 21 days. Face the fears, doubts and fumbling that comes along with being desperately uncomfortable.

On the twenty-second day, choose your next challenge. And like the Golden Gate bridge painters, you are never done. Once you think you have met every challenge, it will be time to start again since your very first challenge will likely be stale at that point.

The point of the exercise is to live in the notion that being radically different from where you are today IS your future. Refusing to be bound by the limits you have allowed to constrain your creative business with is itself freedom. Doing it all at once though is a certain exercise in futility.

If the challenge is something you are up for, please find support to help you through the process. This means those who are willing to support your efforts into the unknown. What it does not mean is to surround yourself with those who secretly (or not so secretly) are rooting for you to fall down, either because they can say “I told you so”, be there to pick you back up or, worst, show you the “right” way. You are going to fall down. This will be uncomfortable until it is not. Find those that keep you in your discomfort until YOU see your way through it. Of course, this is what The BBC Collective is all about and please join us if this is the kind of support you need for the evolution of your Event or Interior creative business (separate groups). However, regardless of whether you join or not, do not deprive yourself of having the voice of your creative business heard. Find the support you need and take the challenge.  The world needs the best version of your art and creative business, now more than ever.

One caveat: if you accept the challenge, please live it. Stick with it and do not mark time until you get to undo it. Twenty-one real days. My promise to you is that you will find satisfaction in the effort no matter the result. Why?

The voice of your creative business (as opposed to your creativity) is heard when you are willing to be radically authentic; to say and do things ONLY because they are what is best for you, your art and your creative business. When you tap into this eternal truth about your art and your creative business, stripped to its essential nature, you will discover its power.  This is the power your clients yearn for you to have so that they can, in some small (or not so small) way, take a piece of for themselves through your art and your creativity.  And we are all transformed in the process.  What can be better than that?

{ 1 comment }

1 I am raw - gabrielle October 5, 2017 at 6:10 pm

Great article. Creativity is something I struggle with on a continuous basis. I think you’re right, focus on your weakness and everything will work out.

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