We don’t just need each other. We thrive with each other. How can we stay open and fresh in collaboration? Who’s exemplifying the best of creative collaboration? How can we work together to make change that matters in this world?

Prioritize Your Value

Spencer Goad/Creative Commons

Spencer Goad/Creative Commons

She couldn’t believe the one word that came up in a simple self-assessment. She had sensed it in her 20+ years of accomplishments across the globe. But the word simply was not the word she used to describe herself or the quality that most captivates people and brings them value. She might have chosen compassionate, loving, sensitive. But this word?

What was that word? Power.

That word came up in one of the self-assessments I use with clients to help them gain a facet of self-knowledge. It was as if a mirror into her whole heritage and history brought to light her untapped gifts. What’s unique about this assessment is that it is more a reflection of how the world sees you – not how you see yourself.

Held in check, the world, it turns out, holds up a mirror to our genius.

Whether you’re a speaker or spiritual seeker, a painter or business artist, there’s an oft-overlooked level of knowledge essential to hone on the path to mastery.

It’s a knowledge that involves the world mirroring your genius. And it involves your genius in turn lifting up the world.

I’m sure you know and honor your “values,” and you likely don’t equate “your value” with complete monetization. You are not a product.

Still, if you endeavor to do business-as-unusual, you need to prioritize your value.

 

Jeffrey

Imagine Your Future To Be Wholly Present

Courtesy of Creative Commons (Jef Safi)

Courtesy of Creative Commons (Jef Safi)

Creativity is a revived currency in business. The New York Times Magazine ran a full feature on the burgeoning field of us creativity consultants and idea leaders. Advances in technology have automated numerous jobs and made follow-instructions-and-gather-information managers almost obsolete.

Yet what do we entrepreneurs, business owners, and business artists do when we make professional plans and goals?

Some of us complain that we’re not analytical or MBA-savvy enough and forfeit our innate creative tools. Yes, rigorous analysis of data and competition and the market are necessary, but analysis alone will not get you to the heart of your professional life and future. And for most of us motivated by meaning more than money, we must get to the core to keep our business’s heart beat thumping through good times and bad.

One oft-forgotten tool, inherent to your creativity, can help you get to your professional heart and envision your professional year accordingly. Read more

To Envision Your Best Year, Get Clear with Yourself

VisionQuest_AlicePopkorn_FlickrAlison had published three books, delivered a talk at a renowned conference, and advanced her distinct brand enough to garner gigs around the world.

So, what was the problem?

“I’ve kind of run this thing to its end.  I’m ready for what’s next, but I don’t know what that is. And whenever I get an inkling, it seems radically different from what I’m known for.”

She wanted to Break Brand.  And sometimes, most times, that’s fine and necessary. But this kind of situation raises profound doubt. The kind of doubt the Alisons of the world experience has a different hue than the kind of doubt, say, someone just starting out with his first venture ever. Alison’s kind of doubt comes post-success, post-mastery. So, for her to arrive again at uncertainty makes her think she’s a failure or a fool for surrendering success. To become an uncertain apprentice again who must ask for guidance feels, to the accomplished professional or creative, kind of vulnerable.

But this junction of doubt turns out to be profoundly normal for successful people who excel in creative and entrepreneurial fields.

The hard part for Alison and others of us like her is staying in the confusion long enough to let something real and true germinate. When we cannot endure the unknown next horizon, we often respond in one of three ways:

  1. Stick with the safe thing.
  2. Leap to another safe thing.
  3. Get stuck in paralysis.

Not fun. Read more

Intensity Not Relaxation Inspires Creative Courage

photo 3

“It was clear…that what kept [top performers in flow] motivated was the quality of experience they felt when they were involved with the activity. This feeling didn’t come when they were relaxing, when they were taking drugs or alcohol, or when they were consuming the expensive privileges of wealth. Rather, it often involved painful, risky, difficult activities that stretched the person’s capacity and involved an element of novelty and discovery. This optimal experience is what I have called flow.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention

Real transformation comes not from luxury or wealth or even deep relaxation. It comes from intensity punctuated with emotional relief and delightful surprise.

They came from every coast to climb a ridge, enter a castle, and make magic happen.

Entrepreneurs, teachers, an architectural designer, writers, consultants, therapists, a mountaintop farm owner, professionals, artful parents – every single one of them pow – er- ful – had arrived at Mohonk Mountain Resort. Mohonk is a veritable 19th-century castle-like structure perched on the Shawangunk Ridge in New York’s Hudson Valley that boasts awe-inspiring views of the Catskills Mountains.

But this pack didn’t come mostly to soak in the views. They didn’t come mostly to soak in the top-rated spa waters.  They didn’t come mostly to loaf and lean along the languorous trails.

They came ostensibly for an author’s intensive called Your Brave New Story. They sought to learn how to shape their books, break through blocks, own their larger brand possibilities, consider their best path to publish.

IMG_1033

But they really came to taste bravery. What they gave back was the formidable alliance necessary to live bravely together.

It’s one thing to feel brave for a moment. It’s another to become brave and stay brave upon returning home.

That kind of change rarely comes from deep relaxation. It often comes from a certain kind of intensity and a certain kind of bonding.  Read more

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

What led 350 innovators, creatives, and change-makers from around the globe to show up at a summer camp ground just north of New York City for 4 days?

It’s a fair question.

Sometimes we can say why we’re drawn to a place or an event. Sometimes, we can’t. 

A renowned painter and photographer from France had moved to Dallas. In the glittery city of steel and diamonds, the artist had found a few acres rich with hardwood trees, rock outcrops, and a stream where he made home. I asked him how the place inspired his work.

“Most people I know,” he said, “myself included, seek the landscapes of their youth. This place reminds me of my boyhood.” 

In the French countryside, he said, he felt free to roam the outdoors that to him contained the mysteries and beauty that led him to pursue the artist’s life.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe many of us do, whether we know it or not, seek out our childhood landscapes. If so, what are we looking for? What are we wanting?

Was that what led this troupe of strangers to a summer camp for grown-ups?

For this introvert who grows itchy in groups larger than 20, I suspect it was what has led me there two years in a row and to leave a massive group feeling not suffocated but rejuvenated.

The event is called Camp GLP – which stands for Good Life Project.

For the record, I don’t take easily to crowds, and I take even less easily to anything I view as silly or frivolous or some desperate attempt for grown-ups to feel creative. It’s not a snob thing. It’s a disposition thing.

But there I was on Day 2 donning a blue t-shirt, blue jeans, a blue plastic lei, a blue bandana, and blue face paint. The camp staff – volunteer entrepreneurs and creatives from around the globe – had divided us into four teams to compete in traditionally campy competitions such as egg races, potato sack hopping races, that sort of thing.  Read more

From Trauma to True Story: Owning Your Brave Medicine

Mike Boehning Photography. Limited use. Creative Commons.

Mike Boehning Photography. Limited use. Creative Commons.

Note: Many business artists come to us in deep transition. They know that writing & publishing their books and shaping their brand stories are part of a larger Story they cannot quite articulate. Working with Tracking Wonder Consultancy is different than working with a coach on one hand or a creative agency on the other. This guest post by Tracking Wonder’s Lead Consultant Cathy Shap gives you an idea of what it is like. It also gives us the opportunity to highlight one of our extraordinary heroes, Ginny Taylor – Chief Creative Officer of Women of Wonder. As Ginny notes in our “Here’s to the Heroes” film below, her quest has “given me the courage to own my story and not be owned by it.”

 

Guest Post by Cathy Shap, Lead Consultant at Tracking Wonder

Ginny Taylor didn’t wake up one day, early in 2014, and say to herself, or anyone else for that matter, “It’s time for a Quest, by golly.” She said what I imagine any normal person feeling the pull of change would say: “Do you think I’m ready for it?”

Such was her query in an email to me dated January 8, 2014. She was about to join our first Tracking Wonder ArtMark™ program, which helps business artists shape their larger business Story and expand their presence with integrity.  The program seemed an ideal incubator for Ginny as she was initiating a transition out of her day job into creating her own business. 

Ginny had initially come to us for help with her memoir – a book that deals with the trauma of sexual abuse. She was very much in her head about it all until yoga and journaling helped her get in touch with her fuller self.

In our early months of working together, she shifted from over-thinking her ideas into deeply feeling them. Where she’d felt blocked, things were beginning to move. And sometimes even the slightest movement can start to crack open much deeper shifts. Soon, Ginny wanted to share the power of journaling and yoga with other women, to teach them how journaling and mind-body practices could be empowering, could help them step more fully into their lives, even if she was still in the process of doing so herself. She was now hearing a call. 

“Do you think I’m ready for it?” 

Most of us live in a similar question at certain stages in our life and trajectory as business artists. We wonder if we’re ready to shift careers, write a book, invest in what matters. But underlying those tangible goals is a deeper yearning and curiosity. A calling.  Read more

Business as Art – The Rising Movement

businessartisthand

Hyperbole repels me. Still, call it a movement. A wave. A surge. A revolution. An evolution.

A tide of creative people and business people are driving one another to do business as unusual. To do business as art.

We’re not bonded by trade or profession. We’re bonded by hunger. We hunger for something different. We want integrity.

Glimpse these signs and add your own in the comments below. Read more

How a feeling became a manifesto became a movement #Quest2015

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.52.37 AMEvery once in a while a feeling seizes me. It often comes while writing something seemingly different from the feeling.

Last April, I kept feeling something not just about me but about us. Something to do with our mutual frustration with business as unusual and with the phrase that hasn’t left me for two years – business artist.

I never know what to expect when I follow a feeling, but I didn’t expect the feeling to become a movement.  Read more

Constant change is not creatively sustainable – O+ Festival case study

O+paradeYou have an idea.

Bring artists and musicians to New York’s first capital city in exchange for free health care from top-notch providers. Maybe you can create a festival that will draw people from around the U.S. and beyond.

But how do execute that idea? More, how do you scale it in a way that’s sustainable beyond being a one-hit wonder?

I wanted to know what happens when a person driven mostly by imagination coupled with the need to survive such an artistic drive finds himself in the role of coordinating a festival that has attracted organizers in Nashville, San Francisco, and Detroit and has drawn musicians as far away as London.

Read more

How are you enabling belonging?

Photo By David Marcu

At our core, every human being longs to belong.

That’s not a claim this former lone wolf artist makes easily, but it’s something my blood knows now.

“Well-being is about a harmonious relationship with oneself. But it is also about having empathetic, successful, and gratifying relationships with others and nature.” – Rodolfo Guttilla, executive director at Natura 

I spent four days with over 250 entrepreneurs, business artists, artists, and open-hearted human beings from around the world. And in a rare instance with a group that size, I belonged.

I felt comfortable enough to stand before a smiling audience donning my red pants and deliver a performance poem called “Coat Thief” that includes the climactic line, “Why wait? Go naked now.”

The need to belong is something that pal and Camp GLP founder Jonathan Fields and bright light Emiliya Zhivotovskaya espouse and live.

It’s a key ideal that humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow recognized decades ago as one of a handful of fundamental drives in the human spirit, and it is a key ideal we at Tracking Wonder emphasize when consulting certain business artists about their signature brand stories.

In fact, we’re pretty adamant about DIT (Do It Together) over DIY.

But my Camp GLP experience let my knowledge seep deeply into my bloodstream.

Read more