The solution, for me at least, lies in trying to cultivate an attitude of abundance. I'm talking about the belief that there is enough for all of us. That by behaving as if the next job will come, the next check won't bounce, the next work will be fulfilling, I am more likely to have that experience. This applies to life in general as well as the #tellinglife.
So many working artists assume scarcity. They assume that work is hard to find and so limit the places they are willing to look for it. They assume they won't be paid enough and so won't ask for an appropriate fee. This all comes out of fear. Yes, the world is a scary place and yes, living the #tellinglife is sometimes walking a knife-edge of terror. I fall into this all time, I'm not trying to suggest I don't. But when I'm lucky and smart, I notice. I take a deep breath. I remind myself that there is enough, I just may need to be a little more creative or even redefine what enough means, but there is enough for us all. It's up to me to do the work to find it, since it's unlikely that success will land on my doorstep if I don't do something to encourage it.
I do a number of things to try to create abundance rather than scarcity in my life.
- I keep my eyes open. I am always looking for new opportunities. I don't leave home without at least business cards. I've gotten gigs from conversations I've had in laundromats, on the bus and in ladies' rooms at the airport. By being open to opportunity I am assuming the opportunity exists and I will be that much more receptive to it.
- I accept work that is appropriate for me and pass on the work that isn't. I am an excellent storyteller for many audiences and the right organizational storyteller with many for- and non-profits. But I am not right for every opportunity. If I'm asked to tell stories with really little kids, pre-schoolers, I'd much rather refer a teller I know loves telling with small children and has honed the craft for that audience. Likewise if someone wants a historical re-enactor. Storytelling requires a great deal of craft and work; none of us are experts at everything. By passing on work for which I am not suited I build a stronger internal community and increase our external value, thus building a larger potential audience, since they know they will get the best when they hire a storyteller.
- I ask for what I'm worth. I spend time learning what other performing artists charge and base my rates appropriately. I can always negotiate down; I can't negotiate up. If I were to charge $50 or $100 for an hour gig that's an hour from home I'm establishing a low-bar at a non-living wage for not only myself but the next storyteller that client wants to hire. By asking for what I'm worth I am assuming financial abundance is possible rather than assuming I cannot realistically support myself as an artist.
- I keep learning. I keep trying new things, working on new material, engaging in continuing education and more. By learning more about my craft I am assuming I will have opportunity to practice it.
- I remind myself to be grateful for every opportunity, including failure. When I am grateful for the work, even when it's hard, I remind myself of just how fortunate I am that I get to live this Telling Life. By experiencing and expressing gratitude, it is harder to slip into bitterness when things are tough so I remain more open to possibility.
- I remain passionate about my work. If I love my work, if I am passionately engaged in my life, I cannot help but experience abundance because each instance of experiencing passion reminds me that more can come. When I talk about my work that passion is clear, so potential clients know I care about what I do and will give them better work. I continue to do the work I love. Each time I work I allow myself to love it a little more. By remaining passionate and loving what I do I cannot help but become better at it and so increase my likelihood of being rehired or recommended.
We create so many self-fulfilling prophesies in our lives and so often they are negative. Why not try to create some that are positive? If we put as much energy and work into the possibility of hope as we do into the certainty of loss, maybe our lives will veer just a bit more in the direction we want. Assume abundance while continuing to do the work and see what happens. It's not likely to make things any worse and might just help you live a more joyful and prosperous life.
(c)2015 Laura S. Packer