Creative Courage

On Name Changes & Other Transitions

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Creative business is nothing if not a journey.

Over the last 20 years, ideas, names, products and focal points have all grown and changed with me.  Some people wonder when I will settle down and just do one thing.  I'm just not wired like that and if you are in creative business there is a good chance you aren't either.  I'm here to tell you that is more than OK.  It is a hidden strength, an ability to adapt and pivot, to flow with change and spot places where your gift can bridge gaps and meet needs.

I've never been comfortable building a brand around my name alone.  It is common and in some cases even advisable.  But for me in where this journey has unexpectedly started to turn, it has become about building something bigger than me, my personality, or my style.

If you are feeling stuck in your current brand or business, take time to step out from working in your business to working on it.  What is making you feel stuck?  Is you brand still congruent with your purpose, that focal point that makes your heart come alive?  Is your brand too small?  Is it reflective of where you are going, or only where you have been?

Change is the creative constant. And you have permission to embrace it with intention.

In some cultures, a significant life change or season change is accompanied by a change of name.  Naming is a powerful thing.  It is the power to call forth identity and purpose, as well as to recognize when identity has grown and purpose has shifted.

The car accident that broke my wrist and rearranged my brain was a life event that will forever be a watershed moment.  There is a before and an after.  I am still working to come to terms with the after.  This has been one of the hardest things I've ever walked through.  I want my brain back.  I want to be able to think and read and research and find joy in all the synapses firing like I did before. 

I don't want to look at words having to choke back dread and fight back fog.  Words have been my oldest friends and I want that friendship back.  I'm muddling just trying to get through most days.  And I'm grieving that which has been stolen through other people's careless negligence.  Every single day I'm fighting to keep my head above water and to breathe.  And to gain even a millimeter of ground back.

In some ways, this business re-brand and re-naming is a battle cry.  Designed to Thrive.  A heart cry of purpose.  To offer resources to help you THRIVE, not strive or survive, but THRIVE doing what you love bringing joy and life to those you serve.

If something is not working or fitting correctly with your business or project, you have the ability to change it.  Need a professional sounding board?  Check out my Creative Espresso Strategy Sessions. You get a targeted, focused hour where I help you clarify your dreams, evaluate your branding, develop your action plan, look over your online strategy and encourage your heart.  Interested in finding out more?

 

 

When the Road Turns {On Creative Resilience}

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It happens.  You are excited for one journey.  You are ALL in.  Invested.  The wind in your face as you move forward.  Filled with hope and expectation and all that burns bright against the dark of the unknown ahead.  Then there comes a turn in the road you could have never seen coming.  In an instant everything changes and suddenly you are on a journey you would have never chosen.  But you weren't given that choice.  Now the only choice that remains is how you respond to this new road ahead.  What do you do?

January 27th I was returning from a speaking engagement out of state.  On the way home from the airport, I was in a major car crash that left me with a broken wrist, severely injured hand (and of course it was my dominant lettering/painting/writing everything hand/wrist), and a traumatic brain injury.  In the weeks that followed, everything I had built my business on came apart at the seams.  Piece by piece screaming as it was peeled away and I lay in dimly lit silent room unable to do anything to stop it. 

When you have a 100% service based business and you are not able to serve your clients, the business meets a rapid demise.  These last months have been some of the hardest in my life.  And the hard is far from over.  Many medical challenges lie ahead for the foreseeable future.

↑ Think this might encourage someone you know?  Share it on Pinterest with your tribe.

↑ Think this might encourage someone you know?  Share it on Pinterest with your tribe.

Success is not measured by how we handle the expected turns in the road, but by how we pivot to embrace the unexpected ones.   

The ability to pivot and embrace change is a core part of developing creative resilience.   The ability to look at a crisis and see opportunity rather than defeat. If we cannot change the situation we are in, perhaps it is time to change the way we see that situation.

My business got stripped back down to foundation level.  It doesn't get more open than that friends. (Remember that openness is my word for 2018?)  Would I fight to rebuild what I had before or would I fight to build something I love even more? 

I'm going for more. And it has changed my entire business model.  I have had much time in a dim room to ponder and reflect on my options.  Some days I still do.  Who'd've thought bad brain day would become part of my working vocabulary?  Not me, that's for sure.

But out of this season of struggle are coming some beautiful things. 

I've shifted my business model from being primarily service-based (branding/web design/coaching) to focusing on creating educational, inspirational and practical resources for some of my favorite people in the whole wide world: YOU.  Creatives & entrepreneurs.  (I still will be doing limited stationery at WWhimsyPaperCo.com as my injured wrist allows + other design work here on a limited case by case basis). 

Product-based businesses are scalable & sustainable in ways service-based business are not.  And that is really exciting. (I learned this one the really hard way.)

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I'm in the middle of creating and launching a new brand called Designed to Thrive™... And everything I'm pouring my heart, soul, time and strength into is designed to help you live wholeheartedly, thrive extravagantly and build a brand that matters.  We are talking digital tools, online courses, a totally unique and new way to embrace business planning and strategy designed especially for creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs... complete with supportive community and so much more.

Let me leave you with a few questions to think through.  Now one likes to entertain worst case scenarios, but sometimes they happen.  Prepared is better than perplexed.

If you were taken out of your current business model overnight and could not work or be present at all to meet existing deadlines or client needs:

  • How long would your business last without you? A week, a month, 4 months?
  • Are there some simple tweaks you can put in place now that would give you more buffer time?
  • If you are a service business (as I was), can you translate aspects of your services into products that can be monetized in a way to create a passive income flow?
  • Do you have a contingency plan on what you would do if your were taken out of commission unexpectedly?  (I didn't and it cost me dearly.)
  • Have you looked into forms of insurance that could help mitigate these type of losses?

Shiny Object Syndrome

We have ALL been there friend.

You go into the store for one thing and come back with 5.  Please tell me I'm not the only one this happens to.

Shiny object syndrome is a reality in business as well.  Any other opt-in hoarders, um collectors, out there?  I have a folder.  And they all land there in the digital abyss never to be seen again for the most part.  And then there are the gems I sign up for twice for.

From Facebook campaigns to email lists to graphic bundling sites, every one is in a mad clamor for your attention, your time and eventually your money.  By the end of 2017, I had over 200 emails a day coming in from things I had opted in for.  I only read two of them. 

Starting last week, I've been on a mission to declutter my world.  Getting 200 emails a day all telling me I needed to buy this or listen to that or implement these 15.7 steps to 7 figure success was stressful and exhausting.  I unsubscribed from everything.  And resigned up for the 2 emails I actually read.

Shiny object syndrome (SOS) is a real thing in business.  Especially for entrepreneurs.  It goes after how we are wired.  We are the early adopters, the ones excited about change, the innovators always looking for the better way to get things done.  But SOS commandeers those strengths and turns them into distractions that confuse team members, make it difficult to finish projects, lead to planning lapses and that burn holes in our bottom lines.

I get it.  At one point while I was living in Africa, I had 10 websites.  Yep 10 websites.  Every new idea I flirted with wound up with a brand, a business plan and its own shiny new spot on the world wide web.  There was my personal blog, my art site, my organizational platform, an idea for a fundraising strategy, a blog for social enterprise, well you get the idea.  Eventually everyone, including me, was confused at what I was doing.  #designerproblems

More is not always merrier.  New is not always necessary.

Here are some things I am committed to with my business to keep it on track growing toward sustainable profitability:

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↑ Think this might be helpful someone you know?  Share it on Pinterest with your tribe.

  • Not every idea needs to be acted on.  And almost never immediately.  Write it down and literally put in on a shelf to let it simmer.  Research it.  Write down pros/cons and costs/benefits.  Then let it simmer some more.
  • If you have a team you work with, get together and bat ideas around.  Inspect them from every angle.  Play critic as well as cheerleader.  If you don't have a team, grab some friends and fix that.
  • Go through your subscriptions and cancel all of them you don't read.  And cancel all the apps you don't actively use.
  • If you have marketing emails {graphic bundle sites I'm looking at you} that lead to leakage from your budget, unsubscribe.  Set boundaries that govern your buying of company assets.  No deal is a good deal if you don't actually need it.
  • Stay in your lane focused on what you have been given to do.  Not on what the latest algorithm-busting-short-cut is to get more followers.

How do you stay focused in an online world that competes for your attention?  Any tips you've found really helpful?  Share away in the comments so we can all grow together.

Why Openness is My Word for 2018

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It is hard to believe my calendar is now reading 2018.  2017 was a white-knuckled roller coaster ride of year.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I've started and stopped this blog and restarted and stopped it again.  I think it took me a year of finding my footing in this new season to really even know what I had to write about.  I'm a big believer in not throwing words on a screen just because it is good for my SEO or bottom line.

Words to me are sacred things.  Time is the most valuable treasure we have and I am not willing to waste either-- words or time.  If it doesn't add genuine value and bring encouragement, I'm just not going to do it.

There are HEAPS of amazing blogs out there on entrepreneurship, on creativity, on creative entrepreneurship, on branding and marketing and there is so much information swirl it is easy to feel like you are caught in a conceptual rip tide of advice and insight.

And I did not, I do not want to add to the current.  After a year of trial and error and a lot of soul-searching, this space is now dedicated to serving you with Encouragement + Insight for Creatives + Entrepreneurs. 

A place to share this journey into wholehearted entrepreneurship with you in hope that it will inspire your own.  A place to be real and raw and lay it all out on the proverbial table.   A place to share what I am learning and insights that I pray will pour courage into your creative soul and put actionable tools in your hand to build your business.  A place to forge community rooted in authenticity.  A place to know you are not alone.  Not ever.

On Jan 3, 2017 I first published this website and went all in on launching this dream full time.  Now a year later it is becoming what it is meant to be, and myself with it.  The journey to embrace our story and become who we really are might be the bravest journey of all.

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↑ Share this with friends on Pinterest and invite others to join the conversation

You do know it is more than OK to try things and then change them and try again until you find what fits, right?  No one expects you to nail it the first time out of the gate.  You might.  But it is really OK if you don't.  Just keep trying.

I chose COURAGEOUS as my word for 2017.  Every little step in the right direction, was a victory of courage and grace.  It has been a year that left stretch marks on my soul.  New things have a way of doing that. 

In 2013, health issues and organizational changes forced me to walk away from 130 children I thought I would raise for the rest of my life.  It forced me to move out of the home I had built in the heart of a conflict zone in South Sudan.  I wound up back in the USA with every single dream I had poured my life into for 7+ years stripped away.  And let me tell you, when that happens friend, the hardest journey I have ever taken has been the one back to choosing to dream again.

Maybe you've had a dream taken away, something you've built pulled out from under you, a life direction change, a lost job or career, a betrayal of trust... something you can't change and feel you could never return from.  But you can keep going.  We need you to keep going.

For 2018, my word is OPENNESS.  What a word it is turning out to be.  I want this to be a year where I live with my heart wide open to dream, to step out into the possibilities opening around, to live authentic with my soul on fire, to not be penned up by past loss or grief or pain.  It is a risky word to embrace.  But it is even more risky to live with a heart that is shut up in the name of safety.

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I took a little New Year social media hiatus to take that time to put as much TLC into stewarding my own story, my own brand, my own growth as I do for my clients. And something magical has happened. All the dislocated pieces of my journey these last 5 years, the crushing pain of loss and threads of purpose, passion and platform came together... woven in front of my eyes into what can only be termed redemption.

What if your deepest setback was simply the setup for your greatest comeback?


Our setbacks can truly become the stage for our greatest comebacks. Our deepest sorrows the seeds of our most profound joy. How could that perspective reframe and transform the struggles you have walked or are walking through?  That's what I hope and pray for each of you friends this year. A joy that is rooted deep in your creative purpose. And now I'm going to tuck back away and finish this website (and client deadlines) because I cannot wait to open this space and invite you in, that we all may flourish together.  You are wildly loved.

How about you friend: what is your word for 2018?  Do you have an action plan for walking it out? Are you excited?  Scared?  Hopeful?

{Pop down to the comments and let me know!  I want to hear about YOUR word for 2018.}