Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Creating Your OWN Path!

Wednesday musings...the beginning of the American Thanksgiving weekend!

This subject has come up again and again in my own life and on my journey as an artist and human being. It seems to be an ongoing discussion with many of you in different manifestations so I thought I'd bring it to light and thought here...

You can't take anybody with you. And you can't ride somebody else's coat-tails.

Simply put, your path and your journey and your career is about YOU. This does not make it selfish or self-centered in a negative way. Your research, development, your relationships, your sensibilities, your pursuits are YOURS.

Being an artist, pursuing a career being an artist and "becoming" an artist takes investment on all levels. The success of that investment varies, but ultimately it has been claimed by the artist him/herself. No one can claim unless he/she has done the work to get there.

Often, we are generous, thoughtful and caring human beings, and so when someone asks for our help, we tend to give it, and share what we know and what we have. There is nothing wrong with that impetus, however, is shouldn't cost us anything.

Generosity is given when it doesn't cost the giver to give it. Those of you who hold that "it" factor will always draw to you people who want to possess it. They haven't figured out how to develop their OWN path, and so they will create a faux-path by trying to latch on to yours. Often, these people don't have that "it" factor, have a false sense of entitlement, expect and demand more than they are willing to seek for themselves, and have a false sense of their own abilities. They will try to latch on, or copy you, or manipulate you for information that will not enhance, but inhibit.

I am not saying be wary and suspicious of anybody and everybody who asks you a question! I am saying, be aware of your own path and what it takes to be on it. If sharing information doesn't cost you anything on your journey, share it. If encouraging a fellow artist through word or deed doesn't cost you a step, then encourage. But don't do it without seeing first.

If you have done your research and study and ongoing development, and are getting out there and DOING, and an artist expects/asks/demands to know, to borrow, to take things/contacts/information they have not gone out to get for themselves - then back off. This will cost you. It is up to THEM to discover their OWN information. It is up to EACH of us to discover and create our OWN path.

If someone tries to do everything you do - it can be flattering at first, but then it can become very clear that it is imitation and not flattery. You must retreat from this is. It will cost you too much.

The grays are often murky as this is never black nor white. As artists we are always growing and evolving, and what started out as two people who seemed on the same level can change quickly, and you leave the other person behind. Perhaps they aren't as naturally talented; perhaps they just don't want it as much as you do; perhaps your next level demands more than they are willing or able to find in themselves. It is okay. Nobody has done anything wrong. But you cannot take them with you. YOU must continue to strive for YOUR excellence. They must find their own. What gets murky, is that we often forge more than just professional relationships, but personal ones. Can we separate them enough to allow for the friendship and the professional path and creative process to be individual?

If we are true to our path, we MUST do it. If the friendship has so little to anchor it that it cannot withstand the individual's choice to find his/her artistic development, then that friendship is not feeding both people! Then again, it is costing one more than the other.

Don't just give it away!!! What you have learned, and the professional assets you have established are for YOU until you are at a point in your career that it doesn't cost YOU anything to share them. And then, know who you are sharing them with!! Your reputation is also augmented or diminished by how you share and what you share and with whom you share it!

You can say "no" with grace. You can suggest to someone who keeps asking, or following you, or imitating you that they start to discover who they are and what they have to offer on their own. You can suggest a discussion of teachers or classes or agents or, or, or...once that other person has done the preliminary research to find out what is out there and comes with his/her own information!

Just because you are "friends" does not mean you have to share assets. And anybody who says "come on, you are my friend" is giving you the biggest red flag of all. Friendship is friendship; business is business; Your career belongs to YOU and everything you bring to it and develop with it and for it is yours. It is NOT up for grabs by people who are too lazy/scared/entitled to get out there and create their own path!

Your career path needs you to be focused on YOU and not worried about someone else. Baggage is baggage and we all carry enough of that!!! We do not need to be worried about dragging somebody else along who doesn't belong just by the nature of dragging!!! Let them find their own way. Their own way is best for them. Your way is best for you. If you need to make changes then do it. Do it with human respect and kindness, but do it.

YOU CANNOT TAKE ANYONE WITH YOU. Pure and simple. Career is solo. It has to be that way.

YOU CANNOT RIDE THE COAT TAILS OF SOMEONE ELSE. You need to find your own life, your own path and develop your own talent and your abilities. You need to discover what you do well, and not what you can take from someone else.

At the end of the day - the house lights will dim, and the spot will slowly light you on that stage. You either deliver or you don't. You cannot claim what you do not yet own. You cannot blame on someone else something that does not belong to them.

It is YOUR path. You choose it. You create it. You pursue it.
You and only you are responsible to develop it and nurture the relationships along the way. Sometimes you walk parallel with another, and then the paths fork. Sometimes the paths cross. Sometimes they move in totally different directions. Enjoy YOUR path.

Be generous when it doesn't cost you anything to be so; know what that means at all the different moments in your career; don't apologize if you cannot be generous with certain things at certain times because it puts you in jeopardy.

Discover what YOUR path needs. Don't try to be something you are not or someone you are not. You are enough. Whatever that path is, get on it - time is wasting!!


  1. We once did an exercise in my kids school. It was a labyrinth exercise. The teachers had laid out a masking tape path on the floor with twists and turns. A person set out to follow the path, and they timed a staggered start for subsequent participants to follow the same path. It was so interesting to watch where people were on the path. Sometimes, like you said above, people were parallel with each other, then, abruptly sometimes, they would take off in two separate directions, and two people who had been so close merely a moment before were suddenly very far apart. I never forgot the visual effect that created and the instant understanding about following a path that it generated.

  2. This is an example of a good blog post. It keeps on working long after it's been read the first time. I keep thinking about it throughout my week.

    I was thinking about how the famous word "boundaries" applies in the case of giving as described above.

    Giving is a good impulse but has boundaries around it, like when we give a holiday gift. We stay within a certain budget, not because we want to be cheap, but sometimes because it's not appropriate to gift so generously. Each situation has to be read, and the dynamics of giving has to be honed and perfected so that no one is uncomfortable, no one is taken advantage of, and relationships remain enhanced by the giving, and not destroyed. This takes some practice, and like any skill, there will be blunders along the way.