Plan B types
I have read that the best way to pursue your creative ideals to divide your sources of income- i.e., to have a day job and also a creative evening job. The intention is that if your creative job isn’t paying the bills, the day job will pay until one day you hit jackpot with your creative venture; and eventually that will become your only source of income. So your day job would get you ‘passive income’ while you pursue your true vocation. So you see the bank clerk who plays the piano in the evening at a bar, or the painter who pays his bills through his teaching job. You can see this from many historical examples- Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin, the Russian: Georgian Romantic composer whose day jobs were as a doctor and chemist, Phillip Larkin, a librarian who was a poet and many others.
Plan A types
On the other hand, artist Paul Klein says that you should have only Plan A and you should put all your energy into pursuing it. By having too many eggs (and perhaps even too many baskets), you are exhausted with nothing left for creativity. In this video on Youtube, he says only have Plan A- having Plan Bs are distractions. By having only Plan A, you focus almost desperately because there is no other way- you have to make it succeed. Paul Gaugin comes under this category but he never made any money from painting while he was alive- only after death did his paintings sell well. Do you agree with this approach? Personally, I am very risk averse and currently do a few jobs while I pursue my creative ideas. What about you? Let me know. Here is a lovely video on finding your passion from Ken Robinson, who says it is not enough to be good at something, you need to be passionate too.
There are many books, videos, blogs, talks that urge you to follow your passion. These talk about the person as if they have just one passion and say that if you follow that one dream, then opportunities, money, and other things will follow. The problem with this is that there can be many passions and passions can ebb and flow. More importantly, does your passion resonate with other’s passions? If only can your desires bind with that of others, then will opportunities follow. A sort of ‘Build it and they will come’ kind of thing.
The contributive life is different- it works in reverse. So you contribute to the desires of many, instead of yourself. It is easy to see why this will attract more opportunities than the passionate life which is more isolating. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, a Japanese philosopher propounded the idea of the contributive life. He said,”Individual well-being entails cooperative and contributive existence within society,”
“genuine happiness requires sharing the sufferings and joys of the larger public as a member of society; and it can easily be understood that full and harmonious life within society is an indispensable element for any concept of authentic happiness.”
I had read these passages many years ago and had been rather dismissive of them as they seemed to me to be reeking of martyrism and sacrifice instead of ‘good’ and practical business ideas that supported you and your clients. But last night was an a-ha moment when I realised that Makiguchi’s contributive life was not just good principled practice but also good business advice. As a crude example, there are many sayings that echo this idea, ‘Selling coals to Newcastle’ is pointless, even if selling coals might be your passion. There is a Youtube video by Marie Forleo which talks about this by saying,’ How to convince people to pay for your services’
and this one which explains it all (and caused my a-ha moment). In the video seen by over two million people, Terri Trespicio, says, ‘To live a life full of meaning and value, you don’t live a life of passion; your passion follows you!”
I had heard a lot about meditation and its benefits, including enhancing creativity and receptivity to ideas. However, I always used to think that meditation was for people who did not have jobs or children. Yet after reading ‘Healing power of mind’ by Tulku Thondup, I realised that everyone can incorporate meditation in their lives. It does not have to be for hours (although I have heard that even many industry leaders meditate for hours- apparently Rupert Murdoch (News Corp); Bill Ford (Ford Motor Company); Rick Goings (Tupperware); and Marc Benioff (Salesforce.com) and others do so.
Meditation is part of many religions, not just Buddhism or Hinduism but also Islam, Christianity and Judaism amongst others. Reading the holy scriptures of these religions, we find that the founders spent much time, reflecting and meditating alone. So I started doing it for about 5 minutes every night and it has been amazing. Much of my sleep problems have gone and I feel quite relaxed, even in stressful situations. On the other hand, I feel alert and able to concentrate through long meetings at work or at conferences- whereas previously my mind used to wander. Apparently it has ‘beautifying’ effects too, although I have not yet experienced those yet! But do take a look at these amazing photos-
This following quote caught my eye- “Never give meaning to a little act of sweetness for it might give you a wrong impression as well as expectation”. I could not find the author of the quote but this struck a huge chord with me.
The reason is that being a sensitive and empathetic person, I have often attached immense meaning and gratitude to anything that has been done for me. I have thought about it for days, attached more significance to it than necessary and sometimes even forgotten what I have done for that person. In fact, with one particular person I felt so ridiculously grateful for something that was most likely to have been a coincidence rather than deliberate help that I ignored his later bad behaviour. I used to put down my own contributions and disrespect my own needs. Not anymore, though. I have changed.
Recently for instance, this person was rude to me again, assuming that his past ‘act’ was enough to over rule this latest transgression. I did not say anything (I am beyond arguing or challenging) and I was surprised and empowered to feel my own reaction. I felt proud and tall and this is why-
1. I am confident in myself: Although I remain the sensitive and empathetic person I have always been, I am no longer a doormat. I am still grateful for the past and for people who help me but I see everything in its present context and respond appropriately.
2. I cannot change anyone- I remember that I cannot change anyone but myself so if the person is rude, that is their problem. I do not have to be in their company, listen to them or even be rude back. I have the right to walk away. It is their prerogative to change- it is not for me to wish they were different.
3. Feel grateful for what I am today- Many different people contribute to our lives, for instance how many times do we think about the person who grew the wheat, who ground it, who baked the loaf and who brought the bread to us that we eat? I send prayers to all, staying clear and clean of those who disrespect me and expect the world because they have done something small for me a long time ago.
And yes, I am very grateful for the unknown person who wrote that quote but if they turn out to be rude and disrespectful to me if I should ever meet them, then I would just say a small prayer and walk on.