The emotion of business

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The degree of one's emotions varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts.
When we talk about emotion and business they are two words that usually shouldn’t go together. If we are negotiating fees, a new contract, applying for grants or funding or going out to sell our products and services, we need to take emotion off the table.

As creatives we are usually emotional beings. We create our work from a place of passion, love, commitment or the pure desire to share our gifts with the world. These are special emotions and not something that you should switch off.

There are times however when you need the emotional part of you to turn the dial down so that you can negotiate. We have all experienced that moment when we have to sell ourselves, or our products and services and the emotion wells up inside us. Our stomach feels like it is full of butterflies and we stumble over our words.

Selling yourself or your own work is always harder than doing it for someone else. That is why most artist statements are written in the third person, it is easier to talk about ourself if we aren’t saying I all the time. This is why we need to be able to control our own emotions when we need to.

In this podcast I talk about ways you can take control of your own emotions, and when it is important to try to do that. Sometimes we need to be emotional to share our passion, and at other times we need a business head on us in order to be able to negotiate successfully.

It isn’t something that you will get right every time, and I know that over 21 years of being a freelancer even I still get emotional at the wrong times-that is part of learning and developing your career.

When we build our creative career we need to be able to split ourselves into two parts- The Creative Side and The Business Side.

The Creative Side

Is passionate
A dreamer
A Creator
A sharer

The Business Side

Is Committed
A planner
A researcher
An athlete

Now I use the term athlete here as someone who never gives up, even if the start is hard, or if they get tired on the way and need to refocus. When we build our own careers we need to be able to separate the emotional from the grit side of what we do.

Recognising when we need to plan for success or failure is as important as creating new work. Things won’t always work the first time, and even if we have been trying to gain funding for new projects and it feels like the end of the world if we don’t get it, there is always something new on the horizon.

The times in my career when I have failed have turned out to be the best things that ever happened to me. Being able to remove the emotion and look clearly at the facts of what has happened allows you to pull out the positives from the experience.

When we get emotional after something has gone wrong, or not turned out the way we planned, it is hard to see any benefits from it if we are only focussed on the negative.

This doesn’t mean that you have to be a robot, and spend all of your creative career feeling no emotion. That would be awful not only for you, but also for your clients and audiences. We need our emotions in order to be creative, but it is also important that they don’t get the better of us.

Things will go wrong. That is life. If it was always perfect with no bumps along the way we wouldn’t appreciate it. Each day would blend into the next one, and life would soon begin to feel dull.

We need those bad times in order to appreciate the good times. Those bad times also give us the chance to review what we have been doing, to improve on it or change course completely.

I have what is now described as a portfolio career. This wasn’t always something that was approved of when I was starting out. People told me that I needed to stick to one thing, but I knew that wasn’t me. Did it make life easy to follow several different careers? Not at all! It made it hard, complicated, and I faced more rejections than if I had suck to one thing.

But did I enjoy it more? Yes I did! I met some incredible people, I’ve had opportunities and experiences that would never have come my way if I had stuck to one thing. Sure there were times when I wanted to give up, and other times when I took the emotion off the table and analysed what had or hadn’t worked before I moved on.

If you find it hard to take the emotion off the table yourself find a creative buddy to work with. Accountability partners can be a fantastic way of moving your career to the next level. Here are some tips for working with one, and for taking your emotion off the table.

1.Chose someone you trust

2. Sign an agreement that you will meet at a certain time for a minimum of 2 sessions & that everything remains confidential.

3.Give each other the same amount of time. 30 minutes is usually a good amount.

4.Don’t tell the other person what to do, you need to ask them open questions like “What do you have in place     right now that could help you?”

5.You aren’t there to tell them how to run their business, you are there to help them find the answers themselves.

6.Get them to listen to what you plan B would be if something doesn’t go right.

7.Support each other in a respectful way and encourage each other to keep going if that is the right thing to do.


Over this next week have a look at something you are aiming for.

What can you do to research about it now?
What can you plan for if it isn’t successful?
How will you feel emotionally if it goes wrong?
What can you do to change those feelings?
Is there a way to see this as an opportunity rather than a failure?

We need to embrace our emotions but also allow them space to be, but without them over powering us. Emotions come from us, and we have the right to control them as well.

Let me know what your big project is that you are working on and what you plan to do if it isn’t successful in the comments below. Remember that planning for the worst gives us power to overcome it in the long run.

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