Over the years I’ve taught a number of different workshops and classes on business skills for creatives. But what I observe over and over again is talented, creative individuals who completely panic when it comes to ‘selling’ themselves or their creative creations.
All. The. Time.
[so if you recognise yourself in that statement, you have good company]
I get it. I really do.
You feel judged.
That’s at the heart of it.
Every single one of us, deep down, worries that we aren’t good enough or our creations are good enough.
This is true for every artist I’ve ever met or worked with. Me included.
It’s a very vulnerable experience to put yourself on the line.
What if someone doesn’t like it?
And it’s this fear that get’s in our way over and over again.
Eric Berne came up with a nifty branch of psycho0logy in the 1950’s he called Transactional Analysis. At it’s very core, he was looking at transactions that happen between two individuals. He recognised that in most transactions people took one of three roles: child, adult or parent. He wrote a book in 1964 called ‘Games People Play’. He said that it is the interactions between two individuals where they games are played out.
Eric Berne’s work was picked up by Thomas Anthony Harris who wrote the 1972 bestseller ‘I’m ok, you’re ok.’
It’s his basic premise I want to share with you for when you start any kind of business relationship or transaction.
Harris’ premise is that healthy relationships are where you feel ok and I feel ok. When that is met, we can met as equals.
I’m ok – you’re ok
In this relationship, we are equals. We can both meet head to head, or heart to heart. I can be ok about about showing you my painting and you can be ok about deciding if you want to buy it. And if you decide you don’t want to buy it, I can be ok with that too.
This is a healthy relationship where we meet adult – adult.
But the problem is that we seldom meet that way.
I’m not ok – you’re ok
This is where most creative transactions take place.
I’m feeling insecure about myself or my work. So I enter the transaction feeling that ‘I’m not ok.’ But I see you as holding all the cards – you might buy my work, so you’re ok. So now we have a power imbalance! I’m not ok and you’re ok. How are we ever going to have any proper negotiations? How am I ever going to ‘sell’ you on what I have to offer?
There’s one more perverse permutation which sometimes rears its ugly head
I’m ok, you’re not ok
This is the artist thinks they’re hot sh*t and looks down their nose at anyone that comes near them. This is like the power attendants that lord over some art galleries sneering at anyone who sets foot inside. You will never develop an audience for your work with this attitude. You will simply push them away.
I’m ok, you’re ok
This is the only sane way to approach your work, your relationships, your selling.
You can use it as a mantra you repeat in your head. You can write it out daily as an affirmation. You can look at yourself in the mirror and repeat these words. You can have it tattooed on your forearm. Whatever it takes to drill it into your mind and make you believe it.
This is the only way to do business. All the rest will just trip you up.
I’m ok. You’re ok.
It’s the truth.