A heart-centred business. It’s a phrase that’s bandied around a lot these days.
But what does it really mean? And how do you know if you’re creating one?
At Level 3 of the 7 Levels of Creative Business and Career series, we worked to throw off our need to please others rather than ourselves.
We sought recognition for our achievements, but we accepted responsibility for our own progress and success.
We embraced the idea that there is no ‘right way’ of doing things - only the way that is right for us. The way that comes from our heart.
At Level 4, this heart-centred approach becomes the needle that moves the dial in every part of our creative life.
Level 4: Same issues from a different perspective
On the surface, Level 4 may seem to deal with very similar issues as Level 3. We are still:
But, whereas we did this work at Level 3 out in the world, in the spirit of “This is ME!”, at Level 4 we look inward to find the answer to the question,
“What do I stand for?”
We begin to explore what a heart-centred business really means for us.
What ethics, values and beliefs do we want our work and our business to express? What do we want to embody? To be remembered for?
At the previous levels, we have become proficient at:
But at Level 4, to develop a life and career that is truly heart-centred, we have to set aside the validation of others and embrace our own values.
This shift from dependence to independence is one of our most difficult transitions because it brings us face to face with our fears.
Further enriching our Unique Creative Voice
At level 4 we expand the work we began at Level 3 to express our Unique Creative Voice. We now embrace the idea that even our shortcomings are a vital part of our individuality.
Level 4 corresponds to the Heart Chakra. As such, it is all about love and relationship: The relationship we have with others, but also - and more importantly - with ourselves.
At this level we must truly learn to love ourselves, warts and all. To forgive ourselves for what we see as past ‘mistakes’ and to learn to exercise compassion towards our shortcomings. To finally reach the place where we can say,
“I AM enough.”
By embracing every part of ourselves, we transform our shadow side into a positive ingredient in our self-expression.
We learn to love our work, our very particular way of running our business, our individual - and maybe, peculiar - career path.
We let go of some of the teaching and cultural conditioning we’ve received that doesn't reflect who we truly are - both as artists and as people.
Individuation versus Integration
Way back when I started writing this series, I went with the title I found Level 4: Individuating.
This makes sense if we look at our career or business from a Western perspective. ‘Progress’ is something we achieve in a logical, step-by-step manner. And Level 4 completes the phase of being dependent and relying on the validation of others.
But thinking holistically, we're functioning on all levels at the same time, to a lesser or greater degree. So the concept of ’Integration’ is a better aid to understanding this level. It literally calls on us to integrate the many sides of our complex self so that we can create something truly ours.
Balance and opposites
The fourth level is all about balance. Internal balance between the different aspects of ourselves:
as well as balance between ourselves and the world around us:
It’s also about the balance between our need for:
To say nothing of the dichotomy that almost every artist feels between commitment and freedom!
Imbalance at Level 4
The core concept of love is is at the heart of imbalance at Level 4. Often the roots lie in our childhood when love was perhaps withheld or used as a means of control.
Level 4 calls on us to love ourselves but, without knowing what healthy love looks like, how can we love ourselves?
When this level is out of balance, we are overly self-critical - and consequently, judgemental of others.
We believe that being perfect = deserving of achievement.
We refuse to forgive ourselves for our perceived failures. We feel lonely and isolated. Or we are overly-dependent on others, and jealous.
Dealing with the Demon of Shame at the third level prepares us to find ways to accept ourselves as we are. But there is still work to be done at Level 4.
Self-reflection - the key to growth at Level 4
To really grow at this level, we need a way to reflect on our experiences. We need to know our needs, wishes, fears, boundaries and hopes.
Self-reflection allows us to understand the different parts of ourselves and integrate them into a whole. Only by knowing the self within can we honour the self without.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Without examining where we’ve been, we are destined to always return there. To move on, we must come to terms with the details of our own journey.
Happily, the ideal tool to do this is available to us all: Journaling. Whether visual or written, journalling is the ideal tool to carry out the self-reflection we need to potentiate Level 4.
“In honoring our individuality, we honor the subtle relationships within ourselves. We honor the individuality of every composite part: the part that seeks success, the part that fears it, the part that longs for commitment, the part that wants freedom the inner child, the rebellious teenager, the pleaser the nurturing parent and all the other selves we observe as we go through life. They may want different things at different times, or even different things at the same time.
During the final three levels we'll explore what it means to function at a ‘higher’ level in our career or business. How we reach up to higher levels of achievement, but also how we integrate higher values and calling into our daily work.
Here at Level 4 we are at the bridge between the mundane world and this higher calling. This is the part of the tree where the trunk splits into a myriad of branches. The tree is both anchoring down into the earth with its roots, and reaching up into the sky with its branches.
Think of it as the centre: the balance point where you integrate your worldly self with your higher self.
Level 4 Healthcheck
To get healthier at Level 4, ask yourselves the following questions:
Writing or making art in the ‘voice’ of each of these selves can help to see how their ‘personalities’ can be used to enrich your creative voice and to develop a career path or business that feels both heart-centred and truly individual.
Do you integrate your different selves into your career or business?
How have you fused your different needs and values to make something uniquely yours? I'd love to hear in the comments!