Inc. magazine founder Bernie Goldhirsh used to remind his writers that their entrepreneurial readers were actually artists and business was their canvas.
That’s been on my mind for a couple of reasons. On the one hand, I’m noticing a lot of online marketing gurus who resemble snake oil salesmen more than artists. Happily, on the other hand, Creativity with a capital C seems to be raging all over the place. It’s delightful when it’s married to entrepreneurial activity, but that’s not always the inspiration for creating.
On Saturday morning, I dashed into Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy of Is Your Mama a Llama?, a book I give all new babies and their parents, and decided to swing past the magazine rack and select something I hadn’t ever read before. I was startled to see two very glossy new small business magazines. On closer inspection, I discovered that each of them was actually a recruiting tool for a direct sales company. Imagine an entire magazine of advertising disguised as journalism. Clever or duplicitous?
The magazine I settled on also had a connection to a business, but it wasn’t selling a business opportunity. MaryJanes Farm magazine is just one of the profit centers flowing out of the enterprising mind of Mary Jane Butters, an Idaho organic farmer who has a huge following of women who are passionate about gardening, wistful about farming and enthusiastic about creative activities of all kinds. I love people who are the artists of everyday life and this magazine celebrates that spirit.
Over the weekend I also caught up with a couple of friends whom I hadn’t spoken with in ages. My friend Jill McDermott, who lives in Spring Green, WI, told me that her personal project for the year was to reconnect with her creative spirit. To that end, she’d taken a class the day before called Yes, You Can Draw. “I was the only person in the class who had no art training whatsoever,” she laughed. “It was challenging, but by the end of the day I discovered that I could draw.”
That call was followed by another from Karyn Ruth White in Denver. She just got certified to lead Laughing Yoga so we talked about her plans for teaching that. Karyn raved about a book she was reading called The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. I recalled having it checked out of the library some time ago, but don’t think I got around to reading it. Karyn said, “I think it’s The War of Art’s older sister.” That was all the incentive I needed to give it another look. And I’m urging you to do the same. Tharp makes a convincing case for the necessity of daily practice, whether we’re dancing, writing or running a business.
On Monday, I spent an hour catching up with Ken Robert, a guy I’d met a couple of years ago at Work at What You Love. Ken has started blogging (last week I mentioned his terrific piece How to be Mildly Creative) and I’m loving the results. During our conversation, he mentioned another piece he’d written, one I hadn’t seen, called Creating Like a Kid. It, too, is quite wonderful and a poignant reminder of how easy it is to stray from our creative impulses.
In some ways, creativity remains a mysterious process. What’s not true about it, however, is that only a few of us a privileged to possess it. When we see creativity in action, we’re witnessing the results of practice, nurturing and cultivation. As Dale Chihuly, one of my favorite artists/entrepreneurs, points out, “A lot of creativity has to do with energy, confidence and focus. These are the elements for making creative things. It’s probably the same thing in whether you’re making a movie, whether you’re an entrepreneur doing business, whether you’re an artist, or whether you’re a gardener or a cook. These are all the same qualities that it takes.”