Every so often, someone unsubscribes from my blog or my free Creative Pathfinder course and leaves me some angry feedback.
The gist of their complaint is that they signed up for some help with their creative career, and they don’t want to hear about marketing, sales or anything else to do with business.
I know how they feel.
Twenty-odd years ago, I would have said the same. I just wanted to write, I didn’t want to have anything to do with the business world. I had vague dreams of landing a book deal, but I had no idea how to go about it.
Even several years later, once I’d learned a trade (psychotherapy) I was horrified to learn that it’s not enough to be really good at what you do. You still have to persuade others of the value you’re offering – whether you’re an independent artist, freelancer, entrepreneur or employee.
Whatever business you’re in, you are in sales.
So when I get one of these emails, I’m reminded of the words of the Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah:
You are looking for a turtle with a moustache.
Obviously, there’s no such thing as a turtle with a moustache. But that doesn’t stop us looking for one.
When you want to be a great novelist, but you can’t face sitting at the laptop day after day, struggling to get the novel written, you are looking for a turtle with a moustache.
When you want to be a great actress, but you avoid auditioning because you can’t face rejection, you are looking for a turtle with a moustache.
When you want to be a famous artist but you think your art should sell itself, without any effort on your part, you are looking for a turtle with a moustache.
Or when you want to have a thriving business, but don’t want to get your hands dirty with sales and marketing.
Or when you love someone but wish they would change a few of their irritating personality quirks.
Or when you want to be a successful blogger, but don’t hit ‘publish’ because you’re afraid of criticism.
Whenever you want the juicy reward without paying the price, or facing the unpalatable truth, or doing the hard work, you are looking for a turtle with a moustache.
Whenever you think your work exists in some kind of pure spiritual dimension that has nothing to do with the grubby realities of life, you are looking for a turtle with a moustache.
If anyone should know about pure spiritual dimensions, it was the Buddha. Yet even he struggled when he first tried to communicate his insights to the wider world.
He could have given up and lived out his days in peaceful seclusion, but instead he rolled up his sleeves and learned how to communicate his message effectively, so that others would benefit from his discovery.
If you want to know how he did it, read my new piece for Copyblogger, How the Buddha Solved His Marketing Problem.
And if you want to learn what it really takes to succeed as a creative professional in the 21st century, sign up for my free course The Creative Pathfinder. (Turtles not included. 😉 )
What Are You Looking For?
Have you ever caught yourself looking for a turtle with a moustache?
If so, how did you stop?
And what did you do instead?
About the Author: Mark McGuinness is a Coach for Artists, Creatives and Entrepreneurs. For tips on creativity, productivity and creative entrepreneurship, sign up for free updates from Lateral Action. And for bite-sized inspiration, follow Mark on Twitter here.