What if I were to tell you that you probably already have the mindset and MO necessary to become outstanding in your creative career or business?
And that to do it, you need to be even more your artist-self…?
Level 7: Shining your brilliance to all levels of your creative career or business
In the 7th and final Level of the 7 Level model we have been using to assess and potentiate our creative career or business, we bring the light of our brilliance to bear on our work and our world.
When we reach the 7th level it is as if we have climbed a very high mountain and finally have a view, not only of how far we have come, but of the possibilities open to us to evolve into something greater.
All the skills, insight and intuition that we’ve developed at the first six levels create this brilliance. Yet this brilliance is turned both outward to illuminate a larger path, and back downwards to brighten and sharpen each of the other six levels level - and so enhance every facet of our creative lives and careers.
Most of us will never fully realise ourselves at this level but from time to time we will see glimpses of its possibility - especially within our creative work itself.
The rare few amongst us who do grow fully at this level, will be recognised - sooner or later - as outstanding in our field.
(Sadly, history has taught us that the world very often only recognises the light of true brilliance when it realises that it is still shining even in posterity.)
In her post, 8 Traits of Outstanding People, psychologist and author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person, Sherrie Campbell says,
“Outstanding isn’t something a person has, it is something a person does.”
Sherrie goes on to list 8 traits she believes it takes to be outstanding:
Level 7 is the most intangible of all the levels, and for this reason it is the most difficult to get a handle on. It is not about developing a specific skillset, projecting ourselves in a certain way or even really about how we connect with others. And yet it is about doing all those things - but in a very mindful way.
Mindfulness - a practice for balance at the 7th level
Mindfulness means paying attention to what’s going on in the moment regardless of whether it’s to our liking or not.
When we are mindful, we simply witness.
Mindfulness means that in our creative work and our business, we can be objective and subjective at the same time - perceiving, analysing and assimilating the most important information from both states of being.
When Level 7 is balanced, we are intelligent, thoughtful, aware, open-minded and able to question, but we bring all our senses to bear on the subject of our enquiry, not just our analytical brain.
7th Level - natural stomping ground of the creative
The good news is that, as artists and creatives, we are naturally very at home at the 7th Level.
We tend towards being mindful - because the creative act requires us to be so.
We are also more comfortable than most people with wrestling with the intangible. For what is the creative act if not the transformation of something intangible and almost mystical into something with a physical existence?
“The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity”
As such, the 7th Level invites us to approach all aspects of our creative career or business with the same openness and curiosity we harness when making our art. It is a chance to use our greatest innate strength to maximise all the other areas, yet to simultaneously transcend them.
Realisation at the 7th Level is the catalyst that causes the whole to become greater than the sum of its parts.
Stepping into the Mystery
Another reason that we creatives are at home at Level 7, is our willingness to open ourselves to what I like to call ‘The Mystery’.
The Mystery - aka the Muse, the Source, or whatever name feels right to you - is that indefinable place we tap into when we create.
For me it is embodied by the word mystery because it seems at once outside of me and yet I am able to access it by going within.
Julia Cameron calls this universal field of intelligence or consciousness, “The River”:
“It is as though all the stories, painting, music, performances in the world live just under the surface of our normal consciousness. Like an underground river, they flow through us as a stream of ideas that we can tap down into.”
Whenever we enter the state of Flow, we experience the Mystery. To do this, requires us to surrender.
In order to step into the magnitude of our universal identity, we must surrender our attachments, our unworkable belief systems and our need to control. Only then do we open to the abundant possibilities that exist.
To surrender is to simultaneously face our fears and yet let down our defences. To truly trust the process.
As creatives we do this daily when we embrace mistakes and (un)happy accidents. We accept the idea of a ‘greater good’ that may ultimately have useful lessons or consequences for us, even if superficially it appears not to be working in our favour.
“They choose joy, they choose grace, and they choose to see their blessings…Outstanding people make the choice to look their fears in the face. Through this process, they gain the strength, knowledge and experience to be exactly who they are.”
Imbalance at Level 7
So why is it that creative people so often fail to realise our potential at the 7th level?
The problem lies in our attachment to misguided beliefs.
We believe either that we are completely in control, completely without control or that we simply don’t need to exercise any control whatever!
It is like navigating a boat on the high seas whilst hostage to believing one of the following:
In all these instances we are lining ourselves up for disaster.
It's only when we are able to skilfully balance our own course with the movement of the ocean’s currents on which we’re travelling, that we can successfully pilot our ship and enter into the glory of unchartered waters, discovering worlds previously invisible to us.
Skepticism versus discrimination
If, when I talked earlier about the Source, Mystery or the Muse you started to feel distinctly turned off, this may be a sign of imbalance at the 7th Level.
If you cannot open yourself to the idea that there is something more than the tangible world, how can you trust the Muse? Or open yourself to the unknown - which is a prerequisite for entering into a state of Flow?
If this is the case for you, then changes you make at Level 7 will have a profound and positive impact on every level, but particularly on your creative work at Level 2 and Level 3.
However, I’m not asking you take up permanent residence in La La Land. A certain amount of skepticism is a healthy thing! A total lack of discrimination is just as much a symptom of imbalance at Level 7 as unbridled skepticism.
Bringing balance to the 7th level of your creative career or business
To fully realise ourselves at the 7th Level, we need to bring our creative mindset to bear on each and every level of our career or business.
We need to work diligently, feet on the ground, whilst simultaneously trusting that we will be born in the direction we most need to travel.
We need to shine the light of our creativity on every facet of our work, not just the making part, so that we create a whole that is extraordinary.
We need to believe - just as we do when we pick up brush, pen or chisel - that there is a vast sea of possibility for us to tap into if we are only brave enough to first dip in a toe. Then we need to immerse ourselves fully and determinedly start swimming whilst simultaneously allowing the water to support and carry us.
Level 7 Health-Check
To get a handle on where you’re at with your development at Level 7, ask yourself:
Exercise: Questioning the Muse
Whether you feel skeptical or not towards the idea of a source of universal wisdom, it’s worth playing with this exercise to see what it throws up for you.
Create a mental image of your Muse. Your Muse can take any form that feels relatable and brings you wisdom and compassion.
Now think of an issue related to your creative work or business for which you need guidance.
Do not ask yes or no questions but rather phrase your question:
Assume the role of your Muse and write down the question in your journal. Now free write in answer to the question to allow insights to surface from your subconscious.
You can also write the question on a piece of paper or in your sketchbook and use the stream-of-consciousness drawing technique detailed in this post, to draw your answer.
(In fact the stream-of-consciousness drawing technique is a perfect tool for tapping into 7th Level wisdom. These intuitive drawings allow you to experiment with absolute trust in the process, in the ability for your Muse / the Mystery / the Source to bring you exactly the marks you need in the place you need them to be; as well as giving you the possibility of being an ‘interested observer’ or witness to the process who does not need to control the outcome. )
Warning! You may not receive a direct answer to your question. You may receive more questions. Or only pointers towards a possible direction. But as you continue to work with the process, you will gradually feel your way towards the solutions you need.
Setting sail for uncharted waters
Level 7 is, without doubt, the most challenging and yet the most rewarding of all the levels.
To begin to navigate it, we must lean into the wind, yet keep a firm hand on the rudder. We must know that, while we are but tiny specks within this massive ocean, we also carry access to the whole, boundless sea within us.
How do you feel about your 7th Level?
Are you ready to shine the light of your brilliance on all all the levels in your creative career or business? Or is something still holding you back?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.