I am embarrassed to admit that while I help others realize their authentic livelihood, I feel like a bit of a fraud. I have not been completely transparent with my readers. I feel like a hypocrite because I emphasize publicly that living an ideal livelihood means letting the world see your vulnerabilities and yet I keep a secret for fear of being seen as weak.
You only know my secret if you’ve been to the movies, the post office, bank, or airport with me and noticed that I am on the floor pretending to tie my shoes (even if they are flip flops) or you’ve had to hold my place in line while I pace around. Maybe we’ve met at a networking event and one minute I am sanding there chatting with you, the next I am on the floor. You see, while I maintain this image of the vibrant, active entrepreneur, when I stand still for a while, I faint. There. I got it out and you probably haven’t clicked away and decided never to read my blog again.
So why do I keep this essential fact so closely guarded as if it a strike against my character? I don’t know. But I do know that it takes a lot of energy to act healthy and if I were to simply tell you that I need to interrupt you and sit down, you would have my complete attention because I wouldn’t be distracted standing there worrying about fainting.
This fainting is only a symptom of a pretty complex issue that I won’t get into here but it does interfere with my work and social life. There are times when I have to cancel appointments or disappear from cyberspace because I am unwell. When friends and regular followers don’t see my posts or “tweets” they wonder why I have suddenly gone silent. I realize now that they probably think I have gone out of business or just lost interest.
Please believe me, that is not the case. I love my work but there are times when I have had to isolate and rest. During those periods, my mind still spins with business ideas for you and I am anxious to feel better and share them. Meanwhile, please accept my apologies for disappearing without explanation. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities. That’s part of discovering your authentic livelihood.
Do you waste energy protecting an image of strength? Are there issues that you are being less than authentic about? How can letting go of that control and being open about your vulnerabilities free you up to be more present in your business and you life? As always, you are invited to share your insights and comments.
You’d think I’d be used to it by now but it’s a weekly surprise to me to see tweets declaring “Thank God it’s Friday”. I assume most of the people I follow are either self employed or aspiring entrepreneurs and it makes me wonder how satisfied and successful they are or will be if they view “work” as something to get through, something to do for 5 days and then celebrate a break for two.
I want to believe that the people who spend their week aiming for the weekend are still in jobs they are strategically striving to escape, that they see the weekend as a time to focus on building the bridge to their entrepreneurial dreams. I know many of those I follow are writers and artists who are working to create a livelihood that will eventually lead away from the day job. It makes sense that they would look forward to the weekend as time to hone their craft, create product and make concrete plans to work at what they love. My surprise, though, comes from those I know are already self employed who still see their “work” life as Monday through Friday. Maybe it’s the result of years of conditioning in the same way that I still, three decades after finishing school, view September as the beginning of a new year.
I wonder, though, how likely is someone who sees their business as a chore to be gotten to the end of and escaped for two days to have long term success? Now, I don’t expect every entrepreneur to be a workaholic. I recognize that my tendency, even on vacation, to view everything as a business opportunity is viewed by friends and family as obsessive. It does seem though that someone who still views their life in segments of work time and play time has not found their ideal livelihood.
What about you? Are you still operating in office mentality? Do you view your work life as separate from your leisure time? Is this out of habit or do you look forward to the weekend as a time to escape your career and try not to think about your business? Or do you find yourself so excited and enthusiastic about your livelihood that you don’t even realize when it’s time to stop and prepare a meal? Do you get so engrossed in your work that you have to set an alarm to remind you to pick up the kids or walk the dog?
If you have found your ideal livelihood, most likely you find it so satisfying that you have no sense of separation between work and life. Do you think I’m idealistic? Ask someone who is making a living doing what they were born to do. They will tell you that they do feed the kids and walk the dog. They do spend time with friends and enjoy leisure activities. But Friday is just another day.
What about you? Have you found your ideal livelihood?
This summer, I’ve heard from crafters who are trying to sell handmade at mainstream gift shows alongside imported bargains.
A designer who hand knits stunning wearable art asked me recently if I thought she should show at one of the large apparel marts. Several metal smiths have consulted with me after having dreadful results at wholesale gift shows.
I do recommend attending mainstream gift shows, more for research than as a vendor. (see: “Why you should visit Wholesale Craft and Gift Shows” post of 5-25). The price points of goods handcrafted in the US or Canada is likely to be prohibitive to the majority of buyers at a venue that is primarily imports. You’ll find a much more discriminating, educated buyer at the Buyer’s Market of American Craft (known in the industry as the Rosen Show in reference to founder Wendy Rosen) or at the American Crafts Council Shows. Retailers attending those shows expect to pay significantly higher wholesale prices for handmade and have the clientele to support those prices.
Again, I do suggest you attend the mainstream gift or apparel shows but as a buyer not an exhibitor. Do your research and then apply to the higher end shows where your work is valued.
If you are exhibiting at these shows, please do share with other readers how it is going for you and which shows have been most receptive to your work.
Hideaki Matsui designed a product to raise awareness for a specific social issue for his Social Entrepreneurship Through Design class at Parsons. He took on Cambodian landmine removal as his cause. He designed an all-natural soap in the shape of landmines that would both help heighten people’s awareness of the crisis and raise funds for the removal of landmines. The sales of the soap would help fund landmine removal.
I found this article from a June 9th Media global post fascinating for a couple of reasons. It is a perfect example of philanthropy being run like a business rather than a charity. I also found it exciting that Parson’s has a class titled “Social Entrepreneurship Through Design”.
Terri has been self employed for over 30 years in businesses developed out of personal interests in the advertising, home furnishings, fine arts, healing arts and contemporary crafts fields. She started her first business in her 20s . Her most recent business, a gallery of contemporary craft, continues to thrive under the creative direction of a new owner. The businesses were all profitable and started on very little capital. Since selling her gallery in 2007, Terri has continued to help aspiring entrepreneurs, artists, crafts people and collectors become their own boss while making a living based on their passions.