What's In Your Blueprint?
This blog post has been taking shape in my mind for weeks. There have been so many catalysts but I have not been able to quite put it all together until now. As those who follow my social media may know, I've been working my way through the book, "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron since the beginning of the year. I still have three and a half weeks to go with it and I already know that I'll need to repeat the material to get maximum and ongoing benefit. There's just so much to work with. But, so far, it's been an amazing and eye opening journey in identifying and working through creative blocks, and learning more about why we often stray from our heart's direction. I have also been working through a program with life and business coach Mike Iamele, who is right down in the Boston area but works with clients all over the world. One of the many things Mike invites us to do is discover five or six words that really capture our essence, the who we are that we bring to every venture, every relationship, every part of our lives. These two experiences so early in the year have helped me to take knowledge that seemed intuitive and break it down in to the "why" of my evolution and direction in my business and my life overall. To put it concisely, we are all here to do our own thing, and if we try to do someone else's thing, it's not going to work out very well for us or for anyone else in our lives. It's as if we are all built from a completely unique blueprint, and if we stray too far from our inherent design, we fail. Like a structure built by lazy or inept carpenters, we eventually break down if the blueprint isn't carefully and respectfully followed. Who the architect of our blueprints is is a question best left to philosophers, scientists, and theologians, but I no longer have any doubt that the blueprints exist. No one can read your blueprint as well as you can. In fact, it's probable that no one can read your blueprint at all except you. Others will say they can, and they will attempt to push you in a direction that follows their idea of what your blueprint is or should be. Don't let them. They may be well meaning, or they may have an agenda to use your gifts for their own benefit more than yours. Either way, just say "no." I have been dialoging recently with book publishers, who I have learned know a great deal about individual blueprints. In one conversation with a publisher, we both sensed that his publishing house and my proposal were not a great fit for one another. Why? Because in order to make my book work for his press, I would have needed to strip away a good deal of its essence, a major aspect of it that made it what I call "heart work" for me, and even he did not recommend I do that. In speaking with the publisher who is much more likely to work with this project, that aspect of the proposal is not only fine, it's desired. On a second project, one that came to me unexpectedly, the book editor said to me, in so many words, "Only you can write this book," going on to explain that every author can only write the thing that's in her heart to write, and if she tries to write something else, it never works. It literally makes for an unsuccessful book. The business model for Parris House Wool Works is not what may have been expected by anyone on the outside, even though had I been brave enough to truly follow my blueprint from day one, it might look even more unconventional. In a conversation with a friend today, we spoke about the differences between my studio and another we are both familiar with. These differences are not good or bad, they're just differences. We are working with different blueprints. As a result, some people prefer this other studio to mine, and some people prefer mine to that one, and that is something I actually love to see play out. It means that the people who come to my studio are the people who belong there. One of the most frustrating things a business owner can do to herself is try to be right for everyone. Not only is it impossible, it stunts growth because energy is wasted trying to please those for whom your offerings, those things driven by your particular blueprint, are just not a good fit. Like the publisher who doesn't fit with my book proposal and vice versa, not every customer, student, client, whatever the relationship is, is meant to be yours. The very best opportunities I've had in this adventure have come from following my own blueprint: my affiliation with Beekman 1802, teaching at the Squam Art Workshops and other amazing venues in New England, working with Making Magazine, doing some major commissioned work, and more. All of these things have felt absolutely right and in keeping with who I am and what I want to achieve as an artisan. Whenever I align my life and work with my blueprint, things fall in to place; not without hard work and careful attention, but they do come together. When I do something because someone else thinks it's a good idea for me, because I feel obligated, because this is what's expected, or because "this is how it's always been done," I am less successful. Additionally, when I crowd my days with too many things, leaving little time to reflect on and sense my best direction, I do poorly. The blueprint is clear and uncluttered. It is in our best interest to read it. What's in your blueprint? Feel free to share a time, experience, or opportunity that felt true to who you are and what is in your heart to do.
- Elizabeth Miller