one of my greatest joys is encouraging other creative souls of the world to go for it. i think the world needs more of us chasing our dreams, creating artwork, inspiring others, and telling our stories. it’s why i wrote a book, teach workshops, launched my ecourse last summer, and wrote the ebooks. i truly believe in sharing the stories of how we made it into creative lives, and how we made it into success – so that others can see and cultivate their own dreams. i just wish everyone would realize that you have to chase YOUR dreams, tell YOUR stories, and be YOURSELF every single step of the way.
earlier this week i was disappointed to see a fellow creative teaching a workshop at a national event where the class examples were strikingly similar to my work. it upsets me that a teacher is setting that sort of example for her students – that it’s okay to do such a thing. and then today i was super disappointed to have discovered that one of my previous students, a blogger in our mixed media community, used my EXACT words (without credit) from this post on her own blog for a post she also called “what is and is not okay” – i thought it was ironic (and bold) that she stole my words from a post where i wrote about not stealing. did she not think that our community would notice? her website was full of other striking similarities, too – not entirely in artwork, but in the text/words throughout her blog and website. in all honesty, it made me chuckle at the irony of it. and then i felt quite sad for her. i wrote her a kind (but firm) email informing her that she had absolutely crossed a boundary (plagiarism) and that i was saddened that it didn’t appear as though she could trust her OWN voice and use her own words.
i encouraged her to cultivate her own voice, especially now that she was pursuing publishing – that people would soon start looking up to her and that she’d have to have her OWN voice, her own words, her own heart + soul in order to best represent herself and be a mentor for others. it’s about responsibility, artistic/creative integrity, and setting a good example for your audience. and you simply cannot plagiarize. period. she, of course, was mortified by my email and sent over a gentle and kind response. it was a good and important exchange and i think she got it. i hope so. she’s certainly not alone in her mistake. we’ve all been there to one degree or another.
the truth is is that this stuff happens all the time (not just to me, but to so many of us!). people want what you’ve got. and so, they do exactly what you do: write what you write, sell what you sell, submit your ideas as their own, teach your workshops. blog posts are stolen, verbatim. paintings are created in near replicas, website content is copied, and on and on. no credit is ever given. they’re just chasing, chasing, chasing something that will never authentically be their own. they’re not aware that they are the secret ingredient to what they’re chasing after – not me, my words/art/blog/ideas or anybody else’s.
what truly disappoints me is that it’s often someone in my orbit – in my community that i’ve mentored along the way via my ecourse, or ebooks, or through a workshop i taught, or even by just being a reader of this blog . my heart really does sink though i’m also very clear that these things happen and always will. it’s just a part of it.
(photo by tracey clark)
besides writing what i’ve already written on the matter, i just want to scream out to the world:
not just success in the sense of being published, licensed, etc but also the feeling of success that comes from being authentically you no matter where you are in your creative path! we have to (we must) pave our own way. let’s be inspired by one another’s words/work/careers but let’s also find our own voice, our own way of writing, our own way of connecting, blogging, creating, facebooking, twittering, e-coursing, etc etc etc.
The absolute #1 secret ingredient to a successful blog/website/art career/etc is the element of YOU. You really are the most delicious ingredient. You are the essence, the cherry on the top, the thing that makes your offerings unique. Your audience will grow by like minded people seeing something in YOU that they see in themselves – a kindred connection, something that makes you relatable. The more of you that we see, the more we are going to connect to you. The more we connect to you (the artist behind the craft), the more likely we are to come back (it’s all about connection). The more we come back, the more your audience grows. The more your audience grows, the more your creative business grows. And the circle keeps going until you find yourself in the center of living your dreams.
But it all starts with YOU. YOU are the secret ingredient to your success.
Folks who are hugely successful in their craft are hugely successful because they are being themselves, whether that’s funny, irreverent, inspiring, and so on. Once you have the being yourself down (even as you grow, change, and evolve), there are other how-to elements that can certainly help shape your success – how to market, how to get traffic to your online shops, how to create a dynamic blog, how to sell online/offline, etc etc – but before any of that will work you have to stop blocking the heart and soul of WHO you are from your audience. If you’re funny, let that show. If you’re corny, let that come through. If you’re insightful, let that show. If you’re contemplative, type A, or spiritual – whoever you are – let your true essence come through in EVERYTHING that you do (your products, your writings, your marketing, your websites, etc etc). Why? Because you will attract like minded souls. These like minded souls will become YOUR community, YOUR audience, YOUR customers, YOUR biggest supporters. These are the people who will make all of your creative dreams come true by buying your art, signing up for your ecourses, spreading the word about you, and on and on. You cannot create that kind of community/audience/success by mimicking someone else’s essence as your own. It will never lead to true, authentic success. I’m talking the kind of success that warms your heart from knowing that it’s all YOU – that it was your idea, your words, your heart that paved the way and not someone else’s.
You are the secret ingredient to your success.
Everything I’ve ever tried to do that wasn’t 100% me felt harder, less fun, wasn’t as fulfilling, and never truly succeeded. Why? Because I wasn’t following my true north in those instances. I wasn’t listening to what MY heart wanted to do. Instead, I was trying too hard to do what I thought my audience would want, what I thought would work (because it worked for so and so), what I thought made more sense. We’ve all made this mistake and it’s a hard one to learn from. We get lazy, we get careless. We forget to simply show up and be ourselves. But it turns out that simply being ourselves is SO MUCH FUN, way easier, not as complicated, and attracts a community that we adore. And it’s our communities that we owe our success to – again, it’s about connection, a connection that starts with YOU by you being yourself.
YOU are the secret ingredient to your success.
Not sure who or what you are? Remember, everything takes practice, even unearthing who we are. Embrace a starting point. Experiment with your blog posts, your paintings, your websites. Try on new voices, new ideas, new ways of doing things until you stumble upon the thing that screams, “This is me! There I am. Nice to see you!” My guess is that this discovery process will also inform your creativity and infuse your work with more of YOU, which will in turn make your creations/blogs/websites/etc more fulfilling, more connectable to those who come across it. It’s all about connection. Connection to YOU. In the meantime, don’t lift someone’s words, creations, etc – give credit. Being inspiried is 100% okay and natural and giving credit is good karma. More of my thoughts on this topic here (written a couple of years ago).
You are the secret ingredient to your success.