About this episode
Are you a pivoter, an opportunistic optimist or a hero? This episode is for anyone who thinks people should've done the pandemic pivot, anyone who feels like they should've pivoted but didn't, and anyone who just plain couldn't do anything else but get through the long pandemic days.
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What do you mean you didn’t pivot in the pandemic?! I can’t believe you’ve not learned 4 new languages, started 7 new businesses and written a thesis around world peace. What’s that? You’ve not even learned to bake the perfect banana bread?!
Well guess what, my message for you this week is that you know what, it’s ok if you did none of those things, and I’ll tell you why on this episode of The Positive Creatives.
Ahh welcome back my creative friend. We’re all settling in here now I think! I have really started to look forward to recording these episodes each Sunday – that’s right, no batch recording here, how very 20th century of me!
Still I guess this might be your first episode and if so, welcome, and I hope you are able to go back and listen to the previous five bitesize, easy to swallow chunks of my thinking around a positive creative mindset.
This may not be the ultra light hearted vibe of previous or future episodes but let’s go for it and see where it goes.
I don’t know if I’ve ever said explicitly, but I of course have a creative business – I’m a photographer and mainly what I do is wedding photography. So I have a creative business but I care far more about the creative side than the business side. Even with that belief that a creative business is founded on creativity I’ve hit that cliche six figure mark consistently.
Of course you need to know stuff about business and have some interest in that along the way but I’d say my interest is 80% creativity and 20% business. So I’m not totally disinterested in business, but I am obsessed by creativity and that’s where this podcast comes from.
Why am I telling you this? Well I kind of want people to see and believe that it’s possible to run a successful creative business if your focus is on the creativity.
I’m also telling you this because this week – during my foray into the new Clubhouse app – I encountered someone with the polar opposite opinion.
Their focus was entirely on the business side. The financial side. The money in the bank, food on the table side.
Don’t get me wrong, those things are important, and again, I’ve run a successful business while remaining committed to and focused on being as good as I can be at my art.
But during that conversation on clubhouse, this person hit out at all those people who haven’t pivoted their creative businesses in the last year. They were flippantly branded as lazy and short sighted, and I’ll admit this struck a nerve with me.
Again to be clear this won’t be a rant and isn’t aimed directly at this person, but I’m setting the scene for you because I guess I want to, and I’m about to talk to all you non-pivoters.
Isn’t this pivot concept just such a horrible cliche, but yeah anyway, I’m using the word because it has a kind of new universal definition, but I will be disappointed if every time I say it you don’t mimic me by saying it like Ross from Friends.
Where do I start. It’s taken me some time to collect my thoughts on this so this doesn’t come across as a rant so I’ve kind of split the creatives I know into three main groups.
Group 1. The pivoters. These people have found it relatively easy to make money in other ways. For example, in my immediate circles there are a bunch of wedding photographers who’ve been able to turn to commercial work for income with relative ease. One of my best friends has had one of her best and busiest years during a pandemic and fallen in love with commercial work and realistically that may now be her main business going forward. She already had a commercial business bubbling under her wedding business, whereas another friend was able to start a commercial photo and video business totally from scratch. He used the fact he’s a born extrovert and his experience in sales and recruitment to get out there, knock on doors and drum up business. He’s been busy and again, has realistically it appears found something he loves more than wedding photography.
My message to you Group 1’ers is what luck. What luck that you’ve had the vision and strength to do this in such a strange year. I’m not branding you as lucky, I’m saying that you’re fortunate you had the vision, energy and strength to do it.
My second message to group 1’ers is keep listening because I think you need to understand the other two groups I’ve conjured up during my deep thought.
So next is Group 2. I’m kind of calling you the opportunistic optimists. You saw early that there was a massive opportunity here to rest, reset and reconsider. If you’ve got kids you saw it as a time to connect with them. Maybe you’ve felt like a passenger in your business before 2020 and welcomed the fact to stop, slow down and work out your next move. To be in group 2 you had to have a sense of hope and optimism that this won’t last forever.
Of course some of these groups will overlap.
Group 2 my message to you is nice work and I don’t think you’ll ever regret this. I’ve had many many conversations with my opportunistic optimist friends, and we’ve kind of agreed that for many people this has been a necessary evil.
Maybe in slowing down you’ve questioned your choices up until the pandemic. Maybe you’ve questioned your goals and plans going forward. Or maybe you’ve just had some nice time off, and will be ultra refreshed and ready to go when things open up again. You’re not lazy and you’ve nothing to be ashamed of.
And then there’s Group 3.
And group 3 I kind of want you to know this episode is for you, and for groups one and two to understand you a lot better.
Group 3 have needed all their energy to navigate the daily anxiety and unknown of this pandemic. Group 3 is a tough place to be. Anyone in group three, you’re doing amazingly.
Mental energy is finite. The glass half full analogy exists for good reason. Mental energy is the glass. If it’s empty it’s because it’s full of something else and that something else is usually anxiety.
Group 3 hate hearing the success stories of creative friends – not because they’re jealous, because they feel under pressure to do the same but with zero mental energy. Your group 3 friends are happy for you, deep down, but your ability to pivot has made them feel inadequate on top of the fact they’re already using their energy to go from one day to the next.
I see you, group 3. And it’s because I see you that I was so offended by the sweeping statement that anyone who didn’t pivot did something wrong.
My personal pandemic story is that I started in group 3 – full of anxiety and dread. Then I somehow had a moment of fortunate realisation and spent most of an enjoyable summer in group 2. I spent time in bed, I played more tennis than I ever imagined possible, I watched some TV. At some point late summer because I was feeling good mentally I spent some time trying to get into Group 1. I made a commercial business but as an introvert I can’t do the cold calling thing. But I did manage to bag one job.
That one job reaffirmed that I absolutely love wedding photography.
Because the other thing many creatives have in common across groups 1, 2 and 3 is that many of us are absolutely in love with and attached to the thing we’ve chosen to do creatively. In my case wedding photography, and your passion might be different. I love to make my art at weddings. So I’m desperate for weddings to come back, and that’s not because I’m lazy or because I refuse to do the work to start a new side hustle, front hustle, back hustle or whatever. It’s because that’s my thing. That’s the thing that ticks the boxes in my creative soul and I just want it to come back.
My favourite recent TV show and I think I mentioned it back in Episode 1 has been Ted Lasso. In the show there’s an amazing moment where Ted, who is my new mindset hero by the way, Ted quotes the poet Walt Whitman. And the line is this, I’ll let Ted tell you because he says it better…
“Guys have underestimated me my entire life. And for years, I never understood why. It used to really bother me. But then one day, I was driving my little boy to school and I saw this quote by Walt Whitman and it was painted on the wall there. It said, “Be curious, not judgmental.” I like that… and all of a sudden it hits me. All them fellas that used to belittle me, not a single one of them were curious. They thought they had everything all figured out. So they judged everything, and they judged everyone. And I realized that their underestimating me… who I was had nothing to do with it. ‘Cause if they were curious, they would’ve asked questions.”
What a guy Ted is. If you’ve not watched it there’s no spoiler and I’ve watched it 3 times start to finish already. So get on it.
I won’t dwell on this.
Whatever group you’re in. Whether you’re a pivoter, an opportunistic optimist, or whether you’ve spent some or all of your time in group 3 which I didn’t come up with a snappy name for. I’ll go for the heroes.
Whatever group you’re in, be curious, not judgemental.
Ask questions. Why are they reacting like that. Do they need my help. Do they need a chat. Are they doing that on purpose.
I love this concept, and I really hope something about this helps every group be a little less judgemental of, and ask more questions of the other groups.
You didn’t need to do the pandemic pivot. If you did, you’re doing great. If you didn’t, you’re doing great.
So before you type that comment, before you force your opinion into that conversation wherever it may be, be curious not judgemental.
Because when all this is over – and it will be over soon enough – we will all re-emerge into the world and we will all need to interact with each other again within and across our own little industries.
And whether you were curious or you were judgemental, people will remember that.
Thanks for listening and please, come and join the conversation this week with me on instagram where I’ll theme my posts around the same theme as I think it’s so important.
Ok let’s take a final trivial turn into listen, read and watch for this week to finish on a slightly lighter note.
LISTEN – I’m going with a single song this week, and it’s All Your Favourite Bands by Dawes. I absolutely love listening to the lyrics of songs and not just the melody and this song is what I’d say to my own kids.
READ – A nice short read, Creativity by John Cleese.
WATCH – Song Exploder on Netflix. I’ve only watched one episode but there are so many amazing creative messages that go beyond music. And the greatest one is that you don’t start with a finished track. But you have to start in order to end with a finished track. Deep.
Thanks again for listening this week and I’ll talk about something more upbeat next time! Until then, be curious, not judgemental.
See you next time Positive Creatives.