Who Are You Doing It For?

Day 319 Week 47 Q4  Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Sometimes creative outliers are creating for others, and other times they are doing it for themselves. Is this true? Or do you always have to be doing it for yourself? When do you do your best work? Are you a commercial artist or a fine artist, or neither? Are you sometimes creating works for hire or to satisfy a contract or to full fill your job requirements?  The real question is, when do you do your best work? The work that supports your identity? The work you were born to do? Perhaps never? Or not yet? There comes a time in almost every creative person’s life when these questions get asked. Sometimes by you of yourself, Other times by bosses or partners. And perhaps there are no simple answers? But what if you could simply declare a simple answer to be the right answer for you?

If you are doing work that does not satisfy you in any way, why bother? There are generally better ways to pay the bills than by doing creative work as, after all, people want to pay you for what you already know how to do, not for you to enter a new learning curve and grow.

When you give yourself the assignment and you complete it to your satisfaction, that works best. First of all, you will be happy, and second of all, the work will be better. You owe it to yourself to satisfy yourself, as it is not likely that anyone else will even be capable of satisfying you if you can not satisfy yourself. Creativity is an inside job about your relationship with the universe. If the universe tells you to do one thing and you should tell you to do another, then perhaps you had better be an artist and not an entrepreneur. Or perhaps you are an entrepreneur who is ahead of your time, which means you are an artist. Or if we move this conversation into science and technology, and you are doing what you are sure needs to be done and the rest of the world yawns, it is also possible that you are ahead of your time. Or the others will need to do it better than you did it.

But in all of these cases, you still have to satisfy yourself. If you can not defend the integrity of your vision and idea, it will likely never have any integrity and never be integral to you or anyone else. This is the real work of the founder, the entrepreneur, the artist, and the visionary. They have to defend the integrity of what they are all about, and by the way, in case you have not noticed, when the founder leaves the company, it often fails or when the project leader who began the project leaves the room, it often falls apart. Someone has to defend the integrity of what is happening when it is new, or it will not have any. This applies to everything, and it is universal.

A project or an army without a champion will both suffer the same fate, ignominy. If you can satisfy yourself and you are really good, the chances are you will have satisfied everyone else long before you were satisfied.  And if your standards were so much lower than everyone else’s that you are satisfied and no one else is, then you have to ask yourself if it is because you are a visionary far ahead of everyone or just do not have the goods.

Perhaps it is a sales job that is needed? Maybe it is a great idea that is simply not explained well enough for others to get it. Perhaps you need others to help you get it t a better place. Perhaps you have to get out of the way of your own idea. 

None of this matters if you can not satisfy yourself, then why bother to keep doing it? After all, you can always get a job doing what someone else wants you to do, as that is what most every job was created to accomplish. But what if you can not imagine yourself doing anything except this thing you are doing, and it is still not working (yet?). Well, are there milestones that need to be accomplished on the way to the larger goal? Are there sub-goals on the critical path? Can you find a way to make yourself happy with what is as long as you are not on the path to the larger thing or idea?

Guess what! You have to! Everything worth doing takes time and usually takes some failure along the way and if you do not regard it as failure but as learning, then you may never have to fail. 

But you must find a way to remember who you are doing it for, or you will run out of steam. Remember, we are talking about creative processes, not simply doing tasks for others. We are talking about inventing, researching, ideating, innovating, and creating, not run-of-the-mill exercises. In these cases, if you can not be satisfied in any way by what you are doing and there is no portion of this activity that you are doing for yourself – STOP and do something less creative to pay the bills.

If, as I am, you are an involuntary innovator, as well as a creative outlier, then you know that you do not even have a choice. You have to do what you have to do, and yes, you do know who you are doing it for.