The Humility of the Artist

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog post this morning and it profoundly hit the nail on the head. Here’s what he said,

It seems arrogant to say, “perhaps this isn’t for you.”

When the critic pans your work, or the prospect hears your offer but doesn’t buy, the artist responds, “that’s okay, it’s not for you.” She doesn’t wheedle or flip-flop or go into high pressure mode. She treats different people differently, understands that she is working to delight the weird, not please the masses, and walks away.

Isn’t that arrogant?

No. It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it. Our best work can’t possibly appeal to the average masses, only our average work can.

Finding the humility to happily walk away from those that don’t get it unlocks our ability to do great work.

Knowing who you are and where you are going is branding. That is the brand, whether the brand is you, a product or service. Being confident in allowing your brand to be itself is not arrogantit is strategic. We must be artists, creators, innovators; we are all original.

I asked a client (singer/songwriter) the other day in a session, “Who was Michael Jackson like?” “What about Prince? Or Miles Davis?” The answer, obviously was no one. They were confident in being themselves and they created forms of music that no one before them had created. We don’t really consider musicians who followed in their footsteps to be legends. Being legendary requires being unique, different. It required these artists to be themselves, not attempting to please everyone, but pushing to have personal integrity and originality in their work.

Michael Jackson Prince Miles DavisNo one can be you. There is no competition to you. When you choose to be yourself and stay focused on a clear path, you don’t really compete with anyone. You now have something unique. Now all you have to do is market, effectively tell your story to a specific demographic. Branding and marketing…defining who you are, where you are going, and sharing that story effectively. 

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