“It’s too small. Too long. Off-brand. Ordinary. Not enough.”
Translation: “You’re not enough.”
Creative confidence is a lesson in resilience. The grit-that-makes-you-grind-your-teeth kind. For the creative professional running a business, digging in day-to-day takes mastering a juggling act: When to channel the artist versus the business operator.
Because: If you’re a creator, regardless of what you’re making, the work you do is personal. Even if it’s public. For a client. For sale. Expression and iteration in the public eye can be painful.
Creative work draws on life and emotion. Often your own. There’s nearly always a blurry line between the body of work and the flesh, blood and feelings body of the human who makes it. Rich creative endeavors that touch people, build brands and change lives are the result of the creator’s exquisite sensitivity to intuition and inspiration—the same sensitivity that can suffer when things get down to business.
Separate the roles if you can. I know one successful design firm where one partner manages marketing, sales and client relationships. The other focuses purely on producing the creative work.
Even if you’re a solopreneur who spans the spectrum of making things and running things, be deliberate about stepping into the aspect of yourself that best serves each activity and outcome. Cultivate the characteristics of the artist or operator if you need to. Compartmentalize by role, and chunk time and tasks accordingly. (This isn’t a cut-and-dried process of course, because we’re humans and can’t draw a line down the middle of ourselves like we might a tiny Manhattan apartment with a messy roommate. But in my experience, even trying the exercise on for size helps.)
Playing the long game demands resilience. Confidence comes from knowing there’ll be ebb and flow, and creative wins and hard edges—but you have a strategy to deal with them all.
Protect the part that produces the work. Without the work, there’s no need to worry about the rest.
How do you balance running a business and being creatively successful? Please share in the comments below.