I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my financial situation, if I bury my head anywhere it’s usually in the sand.
So it’s pretty weird that I’ve spent the last year with my head immersed in spreadsheets. It’s not my native location, I can assure you.
Last week I finally looked up and said, “Enough!”
It’s time to start focussing on vision.
It’s not that that time spent focussing on numbers and metrics wasn’t well spent. It was.
It’s simply that now, in order to grow my reach, I need to put my attention in a different area.
Our creative careers or businesses have different needs and motivations at different times. This is influenced not only by where we are at personally and creatively, but also where we’re at in the development cycle of our career or business.
My long sojourn in the land of spreadsheets and my eventual need to stop staring at the ground and take a longer view, got me thinking about these different levels that we need to operate at in our creative business or career.
Exactly what are the different levels we need to consider? And how do we know which level we most need to focus on at any given time? Or should we be working at multiple levels?
Trying to get my head around this reminded me of working with the energy centres in Yoga known as the Chakras.
Why 7 Chakras as a model for looking at your creative career or business?
The Chakras aren’t just a way of working with bodily health. They represent an energetic circuitry which touches every major aspect of our lives.
Although there are minor Chakras throughout the body (roughly corresponding to the Meridians in Traditional Chinese Medicine), when we talk about Chakras in a Yoga setting, it usually means the 7 main Chakras that run along the spine from bottom to top.
Each of these 7 Chakras is related to a very particular function with the lowest Chakra (1) representing survival mode (hence the spreadsheets) and the highest (7) representing far-reaching vision or transcendence.
I like to think of them like a tree with the roots buried firmly in the earth and the canopy spreading out and reaching for the sky.
It turns out I'm in good company when it comes to applying the concept of the Chakras to other fields.
Carl Jung used the Chakras to represent the awakening of consciousness both in individuals and mankind in general. And modern thinkers such as Richard Barrett have continued to expand this model to potentiate the evolution of human values in business and society.
In today’s post, I’ll give you an overview of how you can look at the needs of your creative business/career using this type of 7 Level model. Then in subsequent posts, we’ll look at how we can work with each of the levels in more detail.
It’s helpful to divide these levels further into three types:
The first three levels are where we build our foundations, the fourth level is the bridge between who we were as people, as artists and in our career or business, and who we will eventually become. It’s a time of transformation.
Finally the top three levels are focussed on refining our inner development and connecting this inner development with the outside world.
The basic needs of our creative life/career
The first three levels represent our attempts to make sense of the physical, cultural and social world which we are part of as artists and/or creative entrepreneurs. They are:
At this level we’re concerned with our basic needs - both financially and in terms of our ego. This basic level also represents our creativity in it’s undeveloped state.
At the second level, we’re still mentally dependent on what we learned from our teachers/professors/mentors and tradition but we are also beginning to develop our self-image and trying to ascertain what our value might be.
At this level we seek validation from the art world that we are worthy of being a member of their community.
We want to belong, but we also want to stand out and be acknowledged.
The bridge between yesterday and tomorrow
There is a bridging stage between our basic development and our higher calling in which we focus inwards in order to develop our own values and purposes. This is:
At this level we focus on developing our authentic voice and becoming responsible and accountable for the decisions we take. This requires us to let go of some of the cultural conditioning and teaching that doesn't reflect who we truly are - as artists and as people.
Growing inwardly and outwardly
Finally we have the three uppermost levels in which we refine our unique voice and niche and use it to reach out into the world - both through collaboration and teaching or mentoring others. These are:
Letting go of the aspects of our art career/business that do not allow us to express our true calling, so we can fully embrace our natural gifts and talents and access our full creativity.
Using our unique gifts, talents and creativity to collaborate with others to make a difference in the world.
Teaching, mentoring and leaving a legacy. We may re-examine our priorities as we search for meaning and fulfilment.
Working with the 7 Levels
While there is a clearly a sense of progression from one level to the next, it's natural that we work at multiple levels at once. We may cycle through some of the levels many times throughout our lives, gradually refining our relationship with them.
At any given time, our primary motivations will be those of the level(s) we’re most focussed on, but any unmet needs from preceding levels, will act on us as secondary motivations.
For example, we may want to focus on connecting and co-operating with others, but if we don’t have our basic financial needs covered, we will have to divert a lot of our energy and attention to that.
Additionally, as we switch focus from one level of development to another, what we value at another level may also change or shift priority.
Which of the 7 Levels of your creative career need activating?
Take another look at the 7 levels:
I’d love to hear if this model resonates with you.
Please share any insights - or confusions - in the comments!
Read the next post about Level 1: Why You Need to Focus on the Bottom in Order to Reach the Top