I think I’ve mentioned before, that even though now is when a lot of the “here’s how to run a business” blogs are talking about planning your next year, I usually start thinking about the next year in October. If you’ve ever worked retail, you know that November and December are way too busy to think… so I like to get my thinking started before I’m exhausted at the end of the day. Being that this is my personal blog, y’all get to hear me natter on while I hammer things out before going public with them.
2013 was primarily about production. Learning exactly how fast I could make stuff, experimenting with turnaround times, evaluating and reevaluating my work spaces so that I could become more productive and/or produce requested items faster. What I learned from all of this is that I am not a production factory.
2014 is going to be about creativity and balance. Because my creative nature is why I run a home-based Maker/Crafter business, and I’m truer to my heart when I tip the balance towards being creative rather than being productive. That’s not to say I’m a slacker when I’m creative, but more that… natural productivity follows me when I follow the creative path my heart wants. I can be a production factory; I proved that last year. But that doesn’t make my heart sing (in fact it makes me a little twitchy and distracted and unsettled). What makes my heart sing is when I give myself time to make a few things that I want to make, even if they don’t sell right away, or at all. Experimenting with new glazes. Painting Sugar Skull Virgins Mary. Playing. The closest I could probably get to describing this “productivity following creativity” would be the Chinese concept of “Wu wei”, which loosely translates into “doing by not doing.” A river flows, not by trying to flow, but simply by flowing. Plants grow, not by trying to grow and reaching towards height with all their might, but simply by growing. I know in my heart I reach a better level of productivity not by planning and rushing and working and setting deadlines, but simply by being creative.
I’ve sold a lot of things in the last few weeks, some of which I don’t plan on restocking. I plan on shaving off a few more things next year. And I plan on making a lot of things just to make them – using glazes I won’t use all the time, making things that I make now but in new or different colors, retiring colors I’m tired of or just taking a break from them. I might be a little more unpredictable and a little less willing to make something exactly the way I made it before. But I’ll be being truer to my Self, and following my Path.
“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made–or imagined–by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.
When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress, no struggle. Egotistical Desire tries to force the round peg into the square hole and the square peg into the round hole. Cleverness tries to devise craftier ways of making pegs fit where they don’t belong. Knowledge tries to figure out why round pegs fit into round holes, but not square holes. Wu Wei doesn’t try. It doesn’t think about it. It just does it. And when it does, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything. But Things Get Done.
When you work with Wu Wei, you have no real accidents. Things may get a little Odd at times, but they work out. You don’t have to try very hard to make them work out; you just let them. […] If you’re in tune with The Way Things Work, then they work the way they need to, no matter what you may think about it at the time. Later on you can look back and say, “Oh, now I understand. That had to happen so that those could happen, and those had to happen in order for this to happen…” Then you realize that even if you’d tried to make it all turn out perfectly, you couldn’t have done better, and if you’d really tried, you would have made a mess of the whole thing.
Using Wu Wei, you go by circumstances and listen to your own intuition. “This isn’t the best time to do this. I’d better go that way.” Like that. When you do that sort of thing, people may say you have a Sixth Sense or something. All it really is, though, is being Sensitive to Circumstances. That’s just natural. It’s only strange when you don’t listen.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh