The smartest thing you can do as a creative professional is to have a mentor by your side. This needs to be someone more experienced than yourself in whatever discipline you’re active in, be it photography, graphic design, writing, web design, whatever your craft happens to be.

Here’s the thing though, choose a mentor who’s crafted a sound business and has set his hourly rates and is being fed from his craft that he can generously offer you some of his time. Don’t take the advice of frustrated artists who haven’t figured out that business is also an art-form and it requires discipline, practice, training, structure and creativity. Most importantly though, seek a mentor who puts his ego aside to serve you and is able to empathise with your personal goals and situation in life. A true mentor or a coach doesn’t seek to mould you in his or her shape but rather works with you to bring out your best so you can apply it to your business practice.

I’m a storyteller first and foremost and I can project into the future, or so I think, if I know someone’s past. Though lately, I’ve been challenged to think of a better way to get a sense of people without knowing their backstories. My value of self-actualisation has led me to a prolific writer who’s studied some of the best minds working on people who are constantly growing and improving their creativity and productivity. Within all the guides he’d supplied on a range of topics from nutrition to mindfulness to meditation to tapping into creativity to using structures like the hero’s journey as a framework for personal growth, I was very lucky if I got any anecdotal references. His about page also didn’t contain any personal information.

He kept it all about THE WORK.

I was curious. Why the secrecy? What’s he trying to hide? Why isn’t he transparent about who he is? He responded saying he’s a private person and he found the personal stories ego-ic.

I had my answer.

All this need I had to talk about myself was ego-ic. It was helpful to me in examining how I was still living within the tight frame of limiting beliefs but my clients and the people who found my website, they simply didn’t care. They wanted to engage me for my work and not for overcoming challenges which seem huge to me, but are simply molehills.

So I cut out much of my about page.

My business coach is also someone who doesn’t talk about himself on his about page. His website is called What Do Clients Really Want? (WDCRW)

Apparently, clients don’t want all your personal history.

They want to know what you can do for them. This is what James has been providing to me. He’s been helping me shape and refine my business model, which admittedly is still buried under mud but I can at least foresee running a workshop helping local business owners write engaging books. During these workshops we’d uncover their business practices and how everything they do in their business is shaped by a desire to serve their customers.

The businesses I work with can be as diverse as Turkish restaurants who have adapted to the Australian life and culture, naturopaths, energy healers, physios, basically any and every business owner with the passion and drive to have practiced their business in a disciplined way because it is their vocation. They’re in it for more than just money.

Why Start with Why?

Identifying why you do something and how it strengthens your core values gets you to stick with it. What I notice on WDCRW is James has identified his core values. They are family, church, reading (chances are he’ll read this, hi James!) and helping people. Lucky me! Core values are more important than whatever has happened in one’s past, what school they’ve attended or companies they worked for. Core values are the basis for one’s work. They are THE WHY.

And here’s why you must start with THE WHY

I’m now enrolled in Scott Jeffrey’s Core Values online course to revisit my core values, which I’d previously identified as the following:

  • Self-actualisation
  • Community
  • Creativity

It only makes sense that I keep doing my vocation, writing, constantly improving and self-actualising into a published author, then serving my community by helping local businesses articulate their why and work through their books. We’d be in a constant flow of creativity in doing this work individually and collaboratively.

It’s all beginning to take shape.

Thank you, James.