Thoughts on creative work

Creative work encompasses endeavors that have the potential to both fail and improve. It begins with the desire to bring about change.

Many individuals yearn for someone else to dictate their path, leading them to feel trapped and discontented. The fear of potential failure haunts them, reminiscent of the embarrassment felt in childhood when they misunderstood something and faced ridicule from peers and teachers. Such experiences can have long-lasting effects.

However, true creativity cannot thrive within the confines of waiting for instructions. It demands a fearless dance with the possibility of failure. This courage is essential to the creative process. If you can’t acknowledge that your endeavor could fall flat, it’s probably not “creative work.”

I consider creative work to carry with it these characteristics consistently:

  • Creative work involves the transformative power of change.
  • Relying on external guidance can stifle true creativity (yet true creative collaboration can be powerful).
  • Fear of failure stems from past negative experiences, impacting self-confidence.
  • Waiting for instructions hampers the creative spirit.
  • Embracing the dance with fear is crucial for creative work.

Creative work requires taking risks and accepting that not everything will succeed. By embracing the dance with fear, we unleash our true creative potential.

Overcoming writer’s block

Writer’s block doesn’t exist. We often just fear embracing our bad ideas.

We all have bad ideas, but a few hidden gems may emerge amidst those. Yet, we hesitate to explore and develop them, fearing the emotional labor it demands. Past experiences of embarrassment and hurt reinforce our reluctance to put ourselves out there.

So, what’s the solution?

Recognize that creativity involves venturing into uncharted territory, where failure is a possibility, but so is improvement. Embrace the discomfort of sharing even your flawed ideas. Practice expressing your creativity and become comfortable with vulnerability.

In summary:

  • Writer’s block is a misperception, the fear of embracing imperfect ideas.
  • Everyone has bad ideas, but within them lie potential hidden gems.
  • Emotional labor is required to develop ideas, which may deter us.
  • Past negative experiences can reinforce our reluctance to share.
  • Creativity involves exploring uncharted territory with the potential for failure and improvement.
  • Embrace discomfort and vulnerability with practice sharing your flawed ideas.

Remember, the process of revision and refinement is essential, both in writing and in shaping our thoughts.

The Importance of Shipping: Lessons from a Commercial Greenhouse Manager

My day job is that of a shipping manager at a commercial greenhouse.

Shipping season is a grueling four to six-week sprint for commercial greenhouse industry employees. Flowers must be shipped at specific times every day, multiple times per day, six days a week, requiring constant readiness.

This process has taught me valuable lessons about putting creative work into the world because that’s what I do in the context of getting communication right.

Here are a few parallels and notes I continue to return to when thinking about my role as a greenhouse shipping manager and a freelance writer.

Shipping refers to overcoming fears, uncertainties, and self-doubt to complete and get a project into the world. It’s an essential element in achieving success. By shipping your work — whether it’s flowers or writing — you confront your resistance and learn from the feedback you receive. This enables you to iterate, improve, and ultimately make a more significant impact in your field.

The value of shipping lies in its role as a catalyst for growth and learning. When you ship, you open yourself to both the appreciation and the criticism of others, providing you with a new perspective on your work.

As a result, shipping contributes to your development as an individual. It helps you better serve your people professionally and personally by consistently providing them with valuable, thought-provoking, and quality work.

Many people fall into the trap of waiting for perfection, but that’s a form of hiding. I champion the notion that shipping and refining along the way is better. Waiting for perfection can lead to never getting your work out there and missing out on valuable opportunities for growth and feedback.

So, whether I manage a commercial greenhouse or pursue the creative work that comes with freelance writing, I can never ignore the importance of shipping.

I can never let fear or self-doubt hold me back. I can only embrace the process of iteration and improvement and have faith that it will help me significantly impact the field I serve.

Human business works

Gary Vaynerchuk’s famous question, “What’s the ROI of your mother?” challenges the conventional wisdom that everything in business must have a measurable return on investment.

I have followed Gary since 2009, and I even met him in Portland at Powell Bookstore so he could sign his book, Crush It, for me. His keynotes and that book especially, were foundational as I started with this idea of building a business from scratch using the Internet.

As a successful entrepreneur and internet personality, Gary Vaynerchuk is known for his emphasis on building long-term relationships with clients rather than focusing solely on profits.

What a concept!

This idea is particularly relevant to my freelance writing, where building strong client relationships is essential. As a freelance writer, I aim to deliver high-quality work that meets clients’ needs. And while doing my best work, I prioritize building solid client relationships.

Over the past eight months since committing to this work, I have enjoyed working with four clients in my freelance writing business. Interestingly, three of these clients were from enduring relationships I had built over the years rather than from cold outreach. This experience further illustrates the importance of building solid relationships in freelance writing.

When prioritizing building relationships with clients or potential clients, I seek to create a foundation of trust and credibility that can lead to repeat business, referrals, and long-term success. It means communicating effectively, delivering work on time, and providing excellent customer service.

I emphasize the importance of bringing a human touch to business interactions.  Despite being in the age of technology and automation, there are real people with emotions, desires, and needs behind every business transaction.

Human business has never been more important. It means treating your customers, clients, and colleagues as human beings rather than just numbers on a spreadsheet. It means listening to their needs and concerns, understanding their unique situations, and finding ways to connect with them.

Human business is about building relationships, establishing trust, and creating a positive experience for everyone involved. When businesses focus on the human element of their interactions, they create a sense of connection and community that goes beyond the transactional.

It also means being proactive about staying in touch with clients and asking for feedback to improve my work continuously.

By focusing on building long-term relationships with clients, I will establish a reputation as a reliable and professional freelance writer. This reputation can lead to more opportunities, higher rates, and more fulfilling projects and work.

Today is Mother’s Day, and I woke up thinking of Gary Vaynerchuk’s question, “What’s the ROI of your mother?” it reminds me that building solid relationships is as important as business profits. As a freelance writer, building long-term relationships with my clients leads to success in terms of repeat business and personal fulfillment.

​Taking the plunge versus wading in

Sometimes, taking a considerable risk can be intimidating and may not be the best way to go about your work.

People use the phrase, “Take the plunge.” Let’s make the case for wading in instead of plunging. Simply start small and finish what you begin. When you commit to wading, you can build momentum, doing bigger and better things each time. Taking a small step forward is better than doing nothing at all. And it’s better than taking the plunge but failing or quitting. Take the plunge into wading and begin to make progress.

You don’t have to take the plunge. Start small, make progress, and build momentum.

Tell me what to do

Are you familiar with the feeling of people constantly seeking guidance with a “tell me what to do” attitude?

This is a common experience for me, having been a school teacher but also as the manager of a commercial greenhouse. Most often, people don’t want to be on the hook. The underlying reason for “tell me what to do” behavior is the desire to shift responsibility for the outcome to someone else. By taking direction, some people feel a sense of safety in the event of failure. I don’t always give in to this behavior because it’s essential to resist the urge to always provide answers and encourage individuals to take ownership of their actions. There’s just as much to learn from failure as there is from winning. It just feels differently.

This just as easily applies to parenting. Similarly, I keep this in mind for myself when I’m working with contractors.

Tipping point

Progress is realizing no singular tipping points will make me immeasurably better than I was the day before. Everything I do is a work in progress, and I’ll encounter multiple tipping points by taking the next best step I can on my journey.

How to start

Health is not important. But sickness is. If you are sick, your thoughts will be stapled to that sickness. You can’t get rid of it; you’re in pain, and pain takes up the mind. This is why being healthy, capable, and strong is not about looking good in a bathing suit and feeling attractive (although that has a place, too).

The point? We don’t think about our health unless something is wrong, and then that’s all we think about.

Focusing on your spiritual life is the point of the bigger picture. And to do that, we must become and stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. Spiritual can mean many things to many people. In this context, spirituality means gratitude, gratitude means God, and God means miracles.

So if someone were to ask me Where or how to start – start anything? I would say, Start with physical, mental, and emotional health. Then document that process and what it looks like for you. What unfolds will inspire the right people to take the course of action you recommend.

Create connection

The people who are whipping out their smartphones… They’re not just avoiding boredom, they’re searching — not only for information, entertainment, or updates. They are searching for a feeling of connection. It reminds me of how the person across from me wants to feel when we arrive belly to belly. With so much content on the web, it’s a reminder that the best content makes people feel connected.