Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Unpopular Business Advice: An Audacious Manifesto

A while back, one of my Audacious ones posted something. She was starting a new business venture- and asking for any guidance the rest of us might have. ANY act of courage is a cause for celebration in my book, and I was looking for direction for the day.

So I wrote a three page manifesto on what the point of the whole thing is and some unpopular business advice that I firmly stand by. It is here for your perusal, and in case it resonates with you, there is a downloadable PDF that is public on my Patreon.

"I believe that god is in me, or not at all. All I want is myself, and the god in me." I wrote that in high school, unsurprisingly, and it has haunted me since.

Trigger warnings for woo, etc.

I believe that our birthright is the divine, and that it is not mutually exclusive of the secular or corporeal. Call it whatever suits you; the Source, the Muse, Goddess, God, the Divine, the Universal Well of Whatever...not only do I believe we are all worthy of it, I believe we are unable to be detached from it. Its presence and its directives are coded into us, in whatever language we will understand, and if we could revert back to our factory settings it would be clear as day and easy to hear and understand. I believe this force directs us through our creative impulses. I mean, where do they come from? Electricity in your brain? Why is there electricity in your brain? If you try and follow this rabbit hole, more power to you, but I'm a simple creature and I'm already satisfied at the offset.

I believe this force directs us through our creative impulses. I am not urging you to follow every flippant whim you experience, because many of those can be destructive. There is a difference between the destructive lurchings of a traumatized ego and the unbidden creative urges of your psyche. One feels restrictive, the other feels expansive. Expounding further on the differences or worthiness of "desires" does not interest me.

That brings up another point. What interests you? What interests me is extremely specific and I'm afraid I have severe tunnel vision to that end. I used to apologize for that because I was afraid it made me selfish, but it also makes me what I am, so we are now friends, my tunnel vision and myself. I'm not interested in broadening my horizons to consider the viewpoints of this or that esoteric philosopher, I'm not interested in intellectualizing art and wrapping it up in theory or postmodern this or deconstructed that. I don't give a shit about those things, I want the make the things that emerge half formed and compelling as a primordial lady-beast from the stew of the ocean. I do not care to classify it, theorize it, or try to defend it with lofty elitist language. I'm sure that interests some people and I'm glad, and I would sit them down over a coffee, take them earnestly and awkwardly by the hands, and urge them to trust that interest and to devote all that they could to serving it.

I believe that your interests deserve to be served. In fact, not to do so is an affront to the Muse, the Source, the Force that gave it to you in the first place. I'm also not interested in trying to defend this view point. If you don't agree with it, I heartily support your right to that. But I also don't care. I'm too busy lugging this half-demon/half-angel out of the viscera of my own subconscious because I believe that is what I am charged to do. I agreed to do it and I intend to do it fully and with every sword in my arsenal.

This is where things really get unpopular.

This is how I have started and created everything I've started and created. It's how I made the Audacity Project. The compulsion to mentor, to safeguard by way of permission, was inexorable. I wanted and needed to share the lessons I'd learned and try until my fingers bled to shake someone, anyone, even one person out of the fog of self-doubt and oppression that is supported at every turn in the world, to holler into their ears that they were fucking worth a damn, that they were worth the chance of failure even. And what's more, that greatness courts failure, so even for them to try and fail should make them proud because they had the courage that so many have had stolen from them, to at least give it a fucking shot in the dark.

Some say the morning after a failure is the greatest show of courage. It's not, although that is tremendous. It's the morning after a success. When you open your eyes and you realize that in spite of your accolades, in spite of your grand reception and the money that may or may not have followed, your charge today is exactly the same as your charge was 10 years ago, to zero in on the instinct of what is trying to make itself manifest through you. That your charge is still, even after all this time, to pick up the pen, the hoop, the brush, the corde lisse, the knife, the sword, and continue carving out a path in the jungle of darkness. And not even to get anywhere, because where exactly are you trying to get to? You carve the path because you have no other choice, and this is the only thing that makes you happy, the forging of a new path that was not there before, because you have not been here before. And you KNOW it is worthwhile, even while the gremlins shout that everyone is going to laugh at you. So what if they do? What do you care? You're holding a sword of righteous creative instinct and looking like an idiot will come with the territory. So will new territory, that wasn't there before.

My business is run on interest and intuition. I don't post shit on social media unless I want to. My "want" is well tuned by now, and I can tell if I'm doing it out of a need for validation or FOMO or some nonsense like that, or if I'm doing it because i have something to say that I feel needs to be said. This is not "good marketing advice." Good Marketing Advice is to post every day (ugh) and make sure your stories are always full and that you keep growing your email list and blablabla who the fuck cares, none of that is interesting...to me. Some of my peers are amazing at this and it always interests them and there are many rewards there...I am so extremely proud of them. I'm proud of me, too.

What IS interesting...to you? Keep the channel open. Tell the truth. I say it about art and I mean it about business, as well. That is the only guidebook I know of, and I believe it is worth saying, so I'll say it. For too long I sat by nicely waiting for an invitation, a permission to speak that never came. I wondered in awe at those who would just say without invitation, whatever they wanted to say. If you, like me, identify as an introvert, there is something important for us to know. There is no red carpet that will be unrolled for you. There is no letter from Hogwarts (dammit) coming to invite you to your destiny. There is only this moment, and the pen in your hand or the itch in your muscles, and your inability to sleep if you're not using those things, whatever they are, to do the thing you want to do.

If you build anything- whether work or business- on Good Advice alone, sooner or later you will get burnt out. You'll spend your time fretting over social media followings and if this contentious post is worth putting up and what if you alienate your base by making this piece of work that is political and blablabla. You'll short-circuit, because you're acting out of social hierarchy, as Stephen Pressfield would say.

The opposite of hierarchy is territory...claim your interest, claim your ground, it doesn't belong to anyone else but even the ground occupied by the soles of your feet needs to be acknowledged. I am standing here. No, I will not disappear. I am standing here. The writing desk. The studio. The gym. This is your church. If you build a business on what is good and interesting, on what is compelling and fascinating and worthy TO YOU, you will find something extraordinary happens...it is easy. Don't get me wrong, it is still hard work, but you're essentially just being yourself- just louder, and on purpose. And hopefully, eventually, for money. That saying "do what you love and you'll never work a day" is bullshit. You'll work until your ears bleed. But you will be working at something that feels worth your life, your breath. You won't regret it. You'll know it was worth doing.

It's not "passion". Passion is a flash in the pan. It's a wonderful flash in the pan, but like its cousin inspiration, it's not a reliable form of fuel. It will come when it comes, but interest...interest is there for you. Interest plus some discipline over yourself. It makes it easy. Death is natural, pain is natural...suffering is not. More unpopular advice: you do not have to suffer for the first 3 years of an endeavor before you glean any joy or produce any work. It starts right away, and you're not suffering because you're in love. Like being in love, it doesn't mean you'll walk around in a fit of romantic fever at all times, but the truth of the thing remains strong. The bedrock is there for you, because it is you.

Your interest will change as your work and your business change, which are not mutually exclusive. Keep trusting that. Follow it.

What else is there to follow? Some clickbaity article on best Instagram practices? You are a far better compass than some SEO writer churning out articles. Trust me, cause I used to be one of them. I tried to tell the truth in those articles but I didn't give a shit about the content. It wasn't interesting. I didn't want to be doing it.

So what do you want to do? In what direction is your blood flowing?

Whoever you are, whatever it is you are wanting to do and afraid to do, it's good that you're afraid. It proves you mean business. It is always scary and it never stops being scary, but you stop being "scared." You're too busy falling all over yourself in love with whatever crazed half-formed lunacy has lit up your insides. Do that. Make that. All of it. The hunger won't wait for you, you have to feed it while it's there, because it will eventually morph into something else.

I see you. I salute you.



Rachel Strickland




1 comment:

shuttertosync said...

Your words always seem to land right when and where I need them. Thank you.
*signs up for patreon