Thursday, September 20, 2018

Social Ownership

In "Extreme Ownership" former US Navy SEAL John "Jocko" Willink gives solid tools for success. His position is simple; you are more successful when you take ownership of things that affect your success. Commanders take ownership for their teams: they prepare the troops, get what they need from command, and engage the battlespace in ways that make their teams successful. You need to do the same, to give your creative work the best chance of success you must take "Extreme Ownership".

There are three challenging groups of people involved with your creative effort; taking ownership of relationships with each group will raise your chances of the success you deserve.

People who want to help

Friends, family, co-workers. People you meet on the internet or at social gatherings. There are a lot of people who want you to succeed and can contribute. The issue is that until you own the relationship and communicate what you are doing and what you need, their "want to" remains unused. Take Ownership! Be specific! Help them help you!

I write fiction and computer code. My best work requires extended blocks of focused time. My wife loves to support me but she thinks and works differently. When I explained what I needed and we worked out ways to help her help me focus I became even more productive. For example, if I close the door to my office it means I'm working. If she needs to come in she can but she weighs the time criticality of the question before breaking my focus. When I don't need to focus as much the door is opened again and I'll let her know. Another small thing that has helped me succeed is measuring time with her. She knows to say "supper will be ready in an hour" instead of "I'm making supper". That way I know I have an hour to focus on something and I need to wrap it up at the sixty minute mark. The specific time allocation doesn't matter, and I don't hold her to it. If supper takes an hour and a half then I have time to decompress, set the table, pet the dogs, and relax from my work. We both win because I have helped her understand how to help me.

People who want you to fail

Not everyone is your cheerleader. Some want you to write their story or to take their pictures. Often they want the story or the images free, too! This seems funny until you start dealing with it over and over, then it becomes exhausting. Dawn is a photographer; producing a fantastic image takes craft, time, and expertise. She produces art and people pay for art. People pay for skilled craftmanship. Yet some people think taking a picture it all it is. It isn't, trust me.

There's an insiduous sub-group. They try to hide but you feel their negative effects. They want to be successful but don't want to put in the effort or go through the pain you do. They smile for you but try to bring your down, to sabotage your success. You being successful makes them look bad since they aren't successful. The more they slow you down the less insecure they feel.

Time to be real: Some people need to be out of your life. E-mail lists and social groups where people talk about doing stuff but don't? Log off and walk away. Sitcoms and fake news taking your creative time? Turn off the television. Even family members may need some extra distance if they are trying to sabotage your craft. Just because the phone rings or the little dots turns red on your social media stream doesn't mean it is important enough to stop your success. Own your success by removing those who try to encourage your failure.

People who want your art

There may be folks who can burp and produce a perfect song. Someone might be able to flip up the phone and take a million dollar image. For the rest of us, though, producing art takes time and money. It takes even more time and money to get good at our craft and to get the tools for our craft; that time and money has to come from somewhere. Time spent on our art means time we cannot work a second or third job. Money spent on tools is money that has to come from the limited family budget. Sometimes weeks of rice and beans is what it takes.

People want art, and some of them are willing to pay for it. Take ownership of this and you'll see life change. When my craft became computer programming I found out those books aren't cheap and you don't see them in libraries. Amazon's "Used Book Price" was a decade in the future. Family money went to my craft. Lots of it. People wanted my craft and were willing to pay for it. Taking Ownership of this meant I could work in what I loved to do and put money back into the family budget.

As you grow your craft you need to start marketing yourself as a craftsman. Photograpic art. Fiction author. Computer programmer. Song writer. Bass guitar player. Whatever your art is, whatever craft you bring to the world, the world has to know about it. You need to own the "M" word: "Marketing". Communication. Sharing the word. Being in active groups or going to conferences. Letting your friends and family memebers who still talk to you know that you're producing art and you appreciate them sharing the word. Somewhere out there someone is willing to pay you to work your craft. Own the process of letting them know to build your success.

Bottom Line

Ownership takes energy, dedication, and courage; own your success.

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