Last week I gave you a brief introduction as to what you can expect each week on The Empowered Artist, and today we will dive in to a topic that is possibly one the hardest topics for each of us to accept. It is a topic that each of us, as artists, have had to face at one time or another. Maybe it’s at the forefront of your mind right now.
The topic of which I’m speaking, of course, is Personal Responsibility.
What I am going to say next can possibly be seen as being heartless (especially if you are struggling with this topic right now) so I’m just going to say it …
You, as an artist, are 100% responsible for your own future.
Not 50%. Not 75%. Not even 99%.
Let me repeat this for emphasis, you, as an artist, are 100% responsible for your own future.
There is no getting around this fact, especially if you truly want to be successful. You must realize that you alone are responsible for all aspects of being in business as an artist. No one else is responsible for your success. There are no scapegoats that you can use if you are not where you desire to be as an artist. You can accept NO excuses from yourself when it comes to your art career, because frankly, any excuse you dream up for yourself at this point can only be seen as complaining why your career isn’t where it should be.
Here is what you must know …
Complaining will not take your career any higher.
Complaining will not produce beautiful works of art.
Complaining will not sell you art.
Complaining will only guarantee that you achieve mediocrity at best with your art.
Since success is what you want as an artist, then you must begin to recognize when you are setting yourself up for mediocrity. Examine the thoughts that cross your mind when you think about your art career, especially the thoughts that come up when you are examining any potential roadblock in your career.
You may find yourself saying:
“I want to be successful as an artist” …
"but, all I want to do is create. I don’t want to have to do anything else."
Or, "but, I'm not good at marketing my own work."
Or, "but, I don't have time to do everything."
Or, “but, I have to do something else just to earn a living”
Or, “but, I can’t now that I have all this responsibility.”
If you find that any of these thoughts or any similar thoughts have crossed your mind, you need to understand that by allowing these thoughts to permeate you mind you are actually sabotaging your own efforts to succeed.
These complaints or excuses you create in your mind are really just your way of comforting yourself for not living up to your end of the bargain. It’s like saying to yourself, “it’s just to hard,” and then laying on the couch and eating ice cream.
In his book, “The War of Art,” Steven Pressfield refers to those things that stand between the life you live & the life you wish to live as “resistance.” Can you see how these complaints and excuses that have been floating around in your mind are just a form of resistance that is standing between you and the life you desire? I hope you can.
If you haven’t read Pressfield’s book, I highly recommend that you do so as it lays out exactly what creative types must do to overcome “resistance.”
Again, the success you desire is only attainable if you take 100% responsibility for your own career.
Josiah Charles Stamp, President of the Bank of England in the 1920's, once said,
“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”
Here is why you can’t escape responsibility …
Let’s say that all you truly want to do is create your art work, and you want someone else to handle all the day-to-day aspects of your business. Let’s even take for granted that you have the means in which to hire the person or persons to do that for you.
Well, you have to take responsibility to do the research that finds the individual(s) that you can trust that will handle those aspects of your business. You have to make sure that they are going to represent you & your work as you intend them to. Then once you have hired the people to do the work, you have the responsibility of making sure that they continually represent you & your work as you want to be represented.
As I said last week, you are the best advocate for your art, so you have to make sure the people you have representing your art are familiar with how you would want your work represented. And you also have to remember that it is a continual process.
So you see, even if you can have other take care of certain aspects of your career, you are no less responsible for its success.
Here is the good news if you have the desire to create art. I mean, if you truly desire to be an artist, then odds are that you CAN do all the work that is necessary to be successful. Even if you don’t feel that you have the required skill set for a particular area, it is a skill set that can be learned. You have all the tools necessary at your disposal to be successful.
Two verses from the Bible sum up why I believe that you can be successful as an artist if that is what you truly desire.
Psalms 8:3 -5
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)
These verses point to two things.
First, that each of us has been crowned with glory & honor. I believe that each of us displays the glory that was bestowed on us in different ways. For us creative types, I believe we display this glory through the act of creating art.
Second, that God has distinct plans for each of us that give us hope and a future. If you have a burning desire to create art, chances are that it is part of the plan God has for you. It is your job to figure out exactly what that means for you, but it should give you hope for the future.
I feel that I need to remind you that this process we are undertaking is a journey. Many of the obstacles that we need to overcome will be hard fought battles. Learning to take 100% responsibility for your career is one of those battles. That is why I want to closeout with what has become known as an unofficial mantra of the Marine Corps. It is: improvise, adapt and overcome
Feel free to use this mantra as you approach the obstacles you face that try to keep you from taking 100% responsibility for your career. Remember, you have everything you need at your disposal to become successful. You just may have to improvise, adapt and overcome! The key to the mantra being that you WILL overcome.