I saw the delightful French film Amélie in the theater when it first came out. I remember sitting there (by myself of course) wondering “How did they know about me?” I always connected so much with that film, and one of the scenes I remember the most is where Nino, the focus of Amélie’s curiosity, was on her scavenger hunt at the Sacré-Cœur. He comes to a living statue that is pointing to the sky, and looks at the statue’s finger.
A young boy comes up and says (in French):
“The fool looks at a finger that points at the sky.”
That’s the same approach I take most of the time with my business and moving forward to the next big thing I will create. The finger to me in this metaphor is the noise of “what everyone else is doing”, the constant updates and onslaught of information we receive on a daily basis, the number of followers we have/want, and comparing what we do to what others similar to us are doing.
Instead, We should allow ourselves enough space to pull back, and see what could be possible in the expansive sky.
The digital noise can act as a crutch if you let it, constantly checking and rechecking updates, comparing yourself to what others in your field are doing. The only way to be truly distinctive and fresh is to stop looking at the finger, concentrate on what you want to make, and who you are making it for.
The real gold in doing business today is to find what makes you unique. Even as I wrote that, it felt a bit trite because this has been said over and over about building a business online. The truth of that statement will become clear, however as you continue down your own path of creative entrepreneurship.
Creatives have a different approach than most businesses because we are literally building a business off of our distinct point of view. Our talents come from a mixture of our upbringing, interests, passions, and drive, each element unique and painting a picture of a mind who has a different take on their craft than the next creative.
This is your rallying cry to stop looking at the finger (what everyone else is doing), and spend more time in the sky (what truly new gifts you will give this world).
Here are some exercises to help you do this
Find the space in your brain by meditating. Staying in the actual now of life will do wonders in more ways than I can describe. One thing it helps me do is to keep a firm grasp on who I am, and how I fit into the vastness of everything. Constantly keeping up with what everyone else is doing is a shortcut to watering down your essence.
Go analogue. Turn all digital screens off, and go for a walk. I’ve talked about this so many times before, but it begs repeating. Keeping a real balance between screen life and real life is crucial to maintaining our humanity. So get out there, no matter where you are and notice all that nature has to offer you. Talk to people face to face. You’ll be surprised how this organically leads to ideas you never would have had by staying immersed in your profession.
Take a mini vacation. Even if you take a day to explore your own city, be a tourist for a little bit. Think like a traveler and visit museums or art exhibits close to home. Try a new restaurant (and don’t Instagram anything). Having experiences that you don’t document makes them even more special, and ensures that you give everything in front of you your full attention.
Takeaway: Be honest, how much time have you spent lately looking at or consuming what others like you are doing? I bet this has affected how you are creating. Pick one of the suggestions above and practice doing it each day this week. You will begin to notice how your work will come from a genuine place, and feel like YOU.