Last week we talked about the Real Work in your business: Make Art + Connect and Beka commented that it can be boiled down even further: Make art TO connect. I couldn't agree more!
For many of us, making art is how we both connect with our inner selves, who we really are and what we really think, and how we connect with the world. We learn to see the world, describe it, and share it with others through our Art. (Reminder: Art = what you make. From writing, to painting, to sewing, to teaching, to parenting, to practicing medicine – it's all Art.)
But for lots of us introverts*, we have to make it a point to connect. We have to work at actually doing it, even when our art requires other people (like teaching or writing). It's not a question of if you're with another person, but if you're really opening up to them, being brave and sharing who you are. For example, right now I'm writing in a coffeeshop packed with people, but I'm not connecting with any of them. When I work one-on-one with explorers, I have to practice opening up, truly listening, and being fully present during the whole hour, and in our email conversations before and after. I have to clear my mind and tune in.
Connection was my big lesson last year, and its intersection with art-making is one of my favorite areas of exploration. See, I spent years of my working life thinking, being inside my own head, and only venturing out when I needed something. It was my handmade business that first sparked my curiosity about why other people do what they do. And soon I realized that dedicating time to learning that (via real conversations) was the best thing I could do for business.
I started to explore this intersection of connection and art in my book, where we dive deep into understanding the person on the other end of the transaction: Who is she? What does she want? Why is she buying what you're selling?…after we get clear on you and your Art. In the book (and in all of my work) I insist that you know the answers to those questions better than anyone else. How? Your connection. Your conversations. Being open and listening in.
Here's a partial list of what learning-through-connection requires:
Presence. Are you there? Or thinking about 50 other things? (This is why it's hard to connect on Twitter – you're absorbing a firehose of information all at once, from a zillion people).
Openness. Are you waiting to say what you want to say? Are you open to being wrong?
Patience. You don't get to know anyone in one conversation. It takes many conversations, over a long period time to learn what makes someone do anything.
Curiosity. Good news – people are fascinating! Be interested in what makes them act, and you'll be endlessly absorbed.
What else is required to connect with your People?
* If you wanna learn more about the wonderfulness of introverts (and how to work with or parent an introvert), you gotta read Quiet, by Susan Cain.