Recently a team of friends were out to publish a book, but they fell short of getting a reliable illustrator. They searched high and low for someone and what they found was many false social media profiles of illustrators who say they can do something but with pen and paper in front of them, the best they could do was say, “show me the money first.” Away from any other dynamics that come into play, the editorial team decided to
explore how talent, gifts and natural abilities, blend with business. At the core of the success of every creative, athlete, musician, poet, illustrator, actor, painter, singer, instrumentalist, vocalist etc. are these ten elements.
Accountability has a lot to do with you being true to yourself and your support group, an issue we have addressed a little later. You must have people who remind you of your dream. People who ask the tough questions when you forget or get tired of asking them.
People who will make you sharpen your talent. People who will make the time to assess your product when you need them to. The best way to look at accountability is to ask, if there was a civil court case and you were called as the defender against your audience which are the plaintiff, and you were your own judge, lawyer and jury – how would you present the case, defend your use of the gifting and talents and would you find yourself guilty of not doing everything you can, or faithful to the potential in you?
Since time in history, the authenticity of man has always been demanded by the world. You can’t be a copycat creative. You can’t go out there see a nice photo of a national park and go look for a camera to take a similar shot and call yourself an authentic creative. Yes, you can find inspiration from what others have done.
Authenticity is about being true to yourself. It means people see you as a genuine, worthy, reliable and being believable. If you can’t draw a masterpiece, you don’t need to fake it. If you are a wonderful pastry chef, don’t force yourself to be a nutritionist! Authenticity is a key ingredient to the exponential growth of the creative, talented and gifted.
Build a history
No creative can claim to be good without a mark of what he has done. Doodling, thoughts on serviettes, a half-written blog, a slide show of photographs etc. Generally what is called a portfolio. We were discussing this issue and a key point that was made was how difficult it is for illustrators to get their work featured on the New Yorker publication. While researching it, it was amazing that there are even blogs on the selection criteria required and how many times people fail to even get the eye of the selection panel.
In Africa, there is a waking up to the reality of the potential of creativity, talents and gifts. But the biggest failure of the African setting is the reliance on oral history. In the information age, oral records will fail you miserably. You can’t walk into an art gallery and pronounce yourself great if you didn’t carry even a digital version of your work. Creatives must create a tangible history, recordings of music they have done while walking to the shop, portfolios of the shots they have taken with their smart-phone. It is while building a history that one is able to exercise the gift/ talent and improve it. Write, even if no one will read; sing, even if there is no concert, paint even if there is no art gallery, journal the ideas, even if there is no capital. When the right moment comes, the history will confess you a diligent creative.
The beauty about the world of creatives, gifts and talents is that once there is a convergence of output and currency, the tap of revenues can only be closed by lack of managing oneself and the element that initiated the currency flow. This calls for a business sense. It is easy for one to say that they don’t understand financial statements, they only understand the bank account balance. Being a creative genius or a talented stunt master does not exempt you from acquiring some business sense. Knowing a little about the business/ money side of your abilities helps to make sure that you are responsible for the growth, profits, expansion and overall success. Remember the question at the accountability section?
There is an old adage that Rome wasn’t built in a day. In an era of microwaves, 3D printing, Apps and smart devices, it may seem that this saying would not apply; but it does. That is why a hand cut diamond is more expensive than a laser cut; a handwoven rug fetches more than its machine-made copy. The requirement of time is a basic for commitment. You can’t play a piano at a grand concert if you have not been practicing, neither can you win the Olympics buy sprinting every morning, two weeks before the main event. If you are seeking to build a business through your gift/ talent or skill, you must apply the principle of time, effort, failing and trying again. You can’t work with half a heart.
Learn new ways to do your thing. There may be ten photographers at a wedding capturing the same moment, but each will capture something unique. There are marathoners who like setting the pace of being at the lead from the start of the race and they maintain it to the end. Others start slowly and catch up, others pay a pace setter who will help them keep up their momentum. Creativity also has a lot to do with reinvention. What was a wow to the world yesterday will be boring tomorrow. Keep being fresh in your offerings to the world.
Develop the skill
What we need to appreciate about innovation and the field of art is that there is a lot of gifting and talent that is the foundation of creatives. Whether a song, a dance, an image, a painting, playing an instrument, playing a certain game, athletics etc., there is an underlying inborn attribute which we sometimes call talent of gift. It is from this that we get to hear statements like, “I am a natural at this.”
The market space however requires more than gifting. It requires skill attached to this great talent. Developing your talent allows you to be skillful and develop a mastery of the area. A violin player who does not seek to understand the chords of the instrument, will be playing without understanding and sometimes may not be able to explore the full scope of what their talent can bring their way. The market pays to benefit from the talent and the value of the talent is increased by developing it into a skill.
Any time the word discipline is used, there is a connotation of punishment or correction of behavior. But not so in the context of creativity and business. As a word, discipline has its origins in the word discipulus which means ‘learner’ and discere which means learn. Creatives, artists and all those using a talent or gift, must develop the discipline required to be excellent in their areas. They must learn and train themselves to do their thing in a controlled and habitual way. Jennifer Cohen suggests five ways of developing self-discipline – removing temptations and distractions from your environment, eat regularly and healthy because hunger tends to reduce your focus on main tasks, do it even when you don’t feel like it, reward yourself with breaks and small treats, and fifth, forgive yourself and move forward. Discipline that exists due to external drivers will crumble as soon as the drivers disappear.
A French man, Denis Diderot (1713-1784), once said “Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.” He was right. Without passion, in the world of utilizing the natural abilities, exponential growth is impossible, let alone exercise of the natural gifting. Rightly so, passion has also been defined as a very strong feeling, compelling enthusiasm or desire. Many who profess that we should follow our passions, rarely stop to advise us of one thing. That passion is not all smiles. It’s blood, sweat and tears until our gifting, talent, natural abilities are fully formed/ developed to the point where they fund our lifestyles. Passion is always a great motivator for any element of work and it must be sustained throughout the journey of developing and exercising one’s gift.
Mentors, coaches, family, friends and even a fan group that appreciates what your talent and skill offer to the world are very important. The life of an artist is not always full of glamour. There are moments when the cake collapses, and it feels like you will never get it right; there are times you will strain a muscle just before the takeoff of a qualifying heat in a race; there are times when the sun will not shine yet you needed to capture its reflection desperately on the grass with the morning dew. There are also those times that you are told to your face that your illustrations were not good enough. A support group gives you the much-needed strength to get through the tough moments. What you need to be careful about is that you don’t just confine yourself to those who say wonderful things. Seek to include even those who tell you that what you have produced is crappy or is not up to standard. It is through leveled and constructive criticism that you are able to correct mistakes and make daring moves that you would otherwise have ignored.
For more insights into experiencing Exponential Growth through your talents, gifts and abilities, we recommend the book
“The Convergence Code” by Lance Wallnau