Being a Candle in the Wind or keeping the passionate spark for our business burning without burning ourselves out - Part ll

So, I was totally going into Part ll of this series by talking about the kind of things we can do to prevent passion burnout, sort of
(because I don't think burnout is really preventable when we are doing work that demands our passionate connection

and is actually part of the ebb and flow of the creative process - the place that creates the space to do something new, paints us into a corner, forces us into the uncomfortable and unfamiliar and often turns out to be exactly where we need to go at exactly the moment we need to go there)

... things that are remarkably similar to those things that keep the passion going in our other relationship - things like time apart (from our regular makings), changes in our routine and studio (I can often give myself a second wind and whole new outlook just from rearranging the furniture in my studio space), connecting with other creatives, diversifying our makings, bringing in some fresh blood, etc and I will talk about these things, but am moving them into Part III which I have just decided there has to be, because I think Part II needs to be about us and our branding.

First thing to remember about your business and your brand is that it is a living, breathing "being" and other people's perception of us factors into it

(yes, I hate that part, too)

And it moves in strange ways. It's not about vertical movement - the ladder is gone (who the hell stole that ladder - I really want to thank that guy!) - that's not the way businesses grow anymore - at least I don't think so, at least not maker businesses.

(which are different than non-maker businesses in so many ways, it would take me days and days to write about all of them)

We grow like weeds and vines and have to think like Billy Joel here we're not "moving up" - we're "moving out"

(of boxes and comfort zones)

Your business moves like a game of chess. You go sideways, you go forward, you slide over on the diagonal, you even go backwards when that makes sense

(and sometimes even when it doesn't but you just need to catch your breath and you totally get to do that because this isn't really a game and no one is keeping score here)

And because this business that is you is going to be around a long time and move in so many ways and in so many places - you really need to get clear on your brand.

You need to know what you stand for here because you need to be able to change - change is good - and you need to be able to stay true to your brand because your brand is you. And if your brand is you this is actually an easy thing to do and a terribly hard thing to do ... at the same time.

What makes you different? What makes you remarkable? What is your “secret recipe”? (wait, don't tell me) - How do you add value to the people who buy from you? How do you add value to the people who interact with you? Is your brand consistent, is it authentic and honest?

(note - you will not see me rocking any major (or minor) bling or writing about hair care products or the power of crystals because they don't represent my brand and the reason I know they do not represent my brand is that they do not represent me and I am my brand)

So, if we are clear on our brand - what we do that makes us special and more importantly why we do it, any changes will make sense for us.

And if we are going to keep that "falling in love" passion for our businesses things are going to need to change now and then and yes, we can totally change things, and need to because this thing is alive, and we can totally still stay true to ourselves and our brand.

Often when you've lost that lovin' feeling it is a process problem. You need to make some changes to your process - which we will talk about in Part III on Friday.

In the meantime, if you are feeling a lack of passion for things just remember that very feeling (or lack of feeling) is a wonderful gift to us and the universe is stirring up a little (or a lot) of discontentment within us to spark the changes we need to make!

* candle in the wind photo by adesigna on flickr

Part lll of Being a Candle in the Wind on Friday

DISCLAIMER - Since I just got an email from someone saying this post made them feel bad because they really are just making stuff they like to make and trying to sell that stuff and they are not a brand and what I would say to that is first - you must take everything I say as just something someone out there is saying because I most often do not know what I am talking about.

And second - I would say that if you have a business you have a brand - it may be scattered and inconsistent at this point, but there is still a "why" behind what you do - why you choose to make the makings you make and why you sell them.

This is all a process and none of us gets this stuff right all the time, but if you are not having fun anymore whether you have sold 9 or 90 or 900 of your whatchamacallits, it may be helpful to get clear on what you are doing and why you are doing it and what makes you special (your brand) before making any changes.


DancingMooney said...

I love the part about loosing that lovin' feeling, and making changes to our process... I am so there.

Just when I thought I was bored to death with making jewelry, I came across an amazing vintage supplies shop that instantly sparked my creativity again... Although right now my focus is on getting some other things ready for the holidays, I am comfortable knowing that passion is still there, and it can be renewed when I am ready to play again.

Kathy/KJ/TheDreamyGiraffe person said...

Oh, dear Cat. I NEEDED this right now. You have NO IDEA how badly I needed this right now. I've been doing a LOT of evolving in both my mediums used and my the point where it makes me a bit uncomfortable and paranoid that people are peeking out at me from dark corners (and yep, they have beady eyes and wear trenchcoats) and are whispering, "What is she DOING? She's just completely lost it. She's all over the place. She had an identifiable style and now she's just making a hot mess of things!" I look at my big eyed girls and my paintings on canvas -- both of which seem to be slowly being replaced by other things that make my heart beat faster right now -- and I can hear them shrieking at me "this stuff isn't you! we are you!!!!". Okay, now that I've made myself look like an utter headcase between the beady eyed gossipers and talking paintings -- my discovery is that regardless of what those beady eyed folks are saying, regardless of what my paintings are saying...what I'm doing now IS me, as much as the big eyed girls are. Because my bottom line, my brand, ME is that I want to make people smile, I want to create a world filled with possibilities and positivity and I want to tell stories. There is so very much in this world that can make you sad...times can get very tough...hearts get broken...but despite that, there is still PLENTY to hope for, plenty of happiness to find...and THAT is my brand. OMG, sorry about this diatribe!

Catherine Ivins said...

Yes, Janell it is amazing how finding new supplies or seeing something can spark us up again and I love how you are comfortable putting it on hold- knowing it is waiting for you- very powerful lesson there!

Kathy- YES- this is totally what makes you an artist and not just a business person who makes things to make money - if this direction makes your heart beat faster - you absolutely have to follow that- that is what the art is- I LOVE that you say "there is still PLENTY to hope for, plenty of happiness to find...and THAT is my brand." - nothing could be more powerful than that...

Unni Strand said...

Great post!
Thank you.

Periwinkle Dzyns said...

very thought provoking post!
In retrospect I know now that I declared 2011 a year to have fun, meaning as one other poster put it ... going in the direction that makes my heart beat faster...... as I was spending too much energy doing business things because I thought I should, not because I wanted to do those things.
Thank you for putting into words what I was trying to change.

Catherine Ivins said...

your year of fun is brilliant- I made 2011 my year of deciding and the universe responded by giving me exactly what I asked for - hundreds of chances to make decisions -it is exhausting- it is fun for me in 2012! thanks Unni- hope all is well with you! xo

KJ said...

I haven't quite identified a "brand" yet... romantic, traditional, bohemian, eclectic, earthy/bright/black and white... (I have the same problem dressing and decorating.) What I have done is found what makes me unique, how I differ from the many other jewelry artists out there (I weave tiny beads) and that is a start.

hmmm... bohemian... something to ponder.