Over the past month, I have done something I’ve never done before—taking mid-morning walks around my neighborhood to intentionally remove myself from my computer and the busyness of the Internet.
I’ve used this time to listen to podcasts, in the hopes that the distraction-free environment of the woods would provide a blank canvas for me to consume creative content, rather than trying to create it.
Because I don’t know everything, and there is so much to be learned from fellow creatives. Thus, I seek knowledge and wisdom, from those who came before me.
Lessons from Jewel
Back in 1998, one of my favorite musicians was Jewel. She had just released Spirit, a brilliant coffeeshop album, and reflected a lot of what she was going through at the time.
I didn’t know it then, but the reason I resonated with so much of her writing was that I had, and was about to go through, similar life experiences. In short, she was a creative that inspired me.
To this day, her music and books continue to speak to me, which is a bond never to be broken. So when I came across a podcast interview she did with James Altucher, I was thrilled—and after listening, it did not disappoint.
In that interview, she said something that struck me as oddly true—something I resonated with probably more than I’d like to admit:
Fame is a path that a lot of people lose their footing on. — Jewel
She goes into further detail to explain what she means:
I don’t think fame changes you, I think it exaggerates, it just puts fuel on whatever little fire you have smoldering. So if you’re insecure, you’re going to get more insecure. Being aware of that I tried to setup my career in a very specific way, where I led with my flaws.
What I love about her, aside from her desire to truly live an authentic life, is that she embraces her imperfections—much the way I try to.
She talks about her art, and how she uses it to establish a relatable story:
I never tried to use art as propaganda—to make myself seem more perfect than I was. These are my downfalls, and these are my dreams—I’m a real human. And that gave me room to grow, and change, and adapt in realtime, and it also allowed me to sort of have this dialogue with my fans online and through the Internet of talking about it all.
That is what Authentik is all about: building an honest brand.
More and more often, I meet amazing creative entrepreneurs (designers, developers, writers, photographers, and marketers of all stripes) who feel like they’ve hit a wall, and they’re not sure where to turn.
I am trying to suggest, and help you build, a different approach. I want to help you craft or expand your honest, real brand, and grow your online business by sharing what I know, and what has worked for me.
As Jewel was touring in her early days, she had the fortune of spending time with some legendary musicians. I’m sure that was an invaluable experience, especially when advice like this was freely given to her:
Don’t you dare, you stay just like you are, and you keep doing it.
— Bob Dylan & Neil Young
That sounds like some pretty smart (albeit daunting) advice, don’t you think?
Doubling Down on YOU
Imagine if your life—and your business, for that matter—was made up of you being you? Facades taken down, honesty being spoken, surrounded by those who don’t pass judgement. Just imagine how less exhausting that would be.
I believe there is so much undiscovered art in this world, and we have fear to blame for that. I think we all seek approval—that we base our value on the way we think others perceive us—rather than how we perceive ourselves.
I also believe that Ruthie Lindsey, a Nashville-based designer, nails it here:
All of us are longing for connection and authenticity, and what we believe will repel people does the exact opposite.
I don’t take risks nearly as often as I should, but the few times I’ve taken a giant leap of faith by doing something I thought would repel people, it turned out—as she says—quite the opposite.
I am trying new things and, as Robert Frost suggests, taking the road less traveled. He said it has made all the difference, and I’m planting my flag there.
Marie Forleo inspires creative entrepreneurs to live their life to the fullest. She’s really good at that, so I’ll leave you with these words of encouragement from her:
Don’t worry about what other people have or do. Know your strengths and go *ALL* in with them! Double down on what you’re best at.
I challenge you to focus on embracing your inner YOU, and how you can channel any self-doubt into creating some beautiful art this world needs.
Here’s to heeding her advice, and crushing it together next year. We got this!