I’m a Pisces. It’s my natural tendency to live in a dream world of my own making.
Not surprising, then, that basic survival skills are not my greatest strength.
For years I played ostrich and ignored this part of my development beyond the day to day necessity. Yet, since I’ve dedicated time getting a serious grip on the material, I’ve learned that, rather than dragging me down to earth, it liberates me to soar.
In this previous post, we looked at using a 7 Level model (similar to the Chakras in Yoga) to get an overview of the needs of our creative business/career.
Now we’ll take a more detailed look at the meaning of the super-important first level - and how to optimise it as a solid base for the development of our creative practice and business or career.
Fertilising the roots - our hidden source of growth power
Remember I said to think of the 7 levels as a tree?
The bottom three levels of our creative ‘tree’ represent how we make sense of the physical, cultural and social world of which we are part as artists and/or creative entrepreneurs. But of these three levels, the first is the most crucial.
This is literally the ground level we come in at; the roots of our creative career or business tree; the foundation upon which everything else is built; the material level.
“The foundation largely determines the shape of the structure above, determining what it can hold, how high it can build, what kind of stresses it can withstand...”
The obvious manifestations of this level are our basic needs and output:
This is the bread and butter level. If it’s tangible it has its home in Level 1.
But Level 1 also goes beyond what’s visible, to encompass the subtle influences beneath the surface.
We need strong roots in order to grow a tall and healthy tree, so we also need to optimise our:
“To build a strong foundation is to gain solidity. Solidity allows us to be firm and make boundaries. Solidity has consistency, repetition, accountability.”
Level 1 - creativity for beginners
Level 1 also represents our creativity in its undeveloped state. It’s where we get to grips with the tools and techniques of our trade, so that later we’ll be able to wield them fluidly and fearlessly to express ourselves.
This is the stage at which many artists quit because it’s frustrating. We don’t yet have the skills to truly express ourselves.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.”
The importance of the material - and, yes, money!
This first level is an extremely emotive one because it has everything to do with our tribe or family of origin - especially when it comes to our attitude to money and success.
When the first level functions correctly, it becomes a magnet - fuelling our well-being, abundance and prosperity. It also allows us to gradually develop our nascent creativity into something unique, as we work upwards through the other levels.
If this level is not functioning well, we can’t manifest the well-being, abundance and prosperity we need, and we’ll never be able to go beyond the initial (and essential) ‘copycat’ phase of creative expression.
Why building our strong foundation is crucial
As artists and creatives, we’re often not very comfortable dealing with issues in the first level. We’re much happier focussing on our connection to the ‘higher’ and more ‘spiritual’ aspects of our lives.
Yet if we get the first level working well, it releases a huge amount of energy to dedicate to refining our creativity and growing our career or business.
And, ultimately, it is the solidity of this first level that permits us the freedom to give back to the world - both through our work and teaching or mentoring others.
Level 1 Health Check
One way to see how your first level is functioning is to look at the physical things in your life and notice what’s working and what’s not:
Over the next week spend some time paying attention to these fundamental aspects of your life.
Is everything in working optimally? Are there some underlying beliefs and/or practices that you need to change in order for you to function more healthily at this crucial level? What is the first step?
Read the next post about Level 2: Beware! Your Need to Belong Stops You from Taking Creative Risks!
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