I’ve always been somewhat creative. Naturally, as an entrepreneur, I have a talent for out of the box thinking, and at different times in my life, I’ve dabbled in different creative pursuits, like photography, art, and design.
But if someone told me 15 years ago when I started my business the thing that would make the difference between failure and be building a sustainable, successful business was an art form that saw me playing with sticks and twigs; I seriously would have laughed. But that’s exactly what happened.
It was about six years ago where I was working flat out building my business. Like most entrepreneurs, running my business consumed me. I never really switched off, and I was starting to burn out from the intense pressure.
What’s more, my industry of public relations was (and still is) going through significant change. Dealing with the changing media landscape was like operating in quicksand, where I could be pulled under if I didn’t keep innovating.
“Like most entrepreneurs, running my business consumed me. I never really switched off, and I was starting to burn out from the intense pressure.”
Something had to change. I went through a process of reflection on what I wanted out of my business and my life, as the two were inextricably linked. I realised my ability to cope with change was being impaired; my creativity was being sapped. I needed to figure out a way to slow down and allow myself the space to problem solve and be innovative in responding to challenges.
I needed to find an outlet for my creativity that was tactile and not about perfection but more about exploration and play. I wanted to think in new ways and use creativity to gain new insights and perspectives.
Looking back now, I found an outlet that was opposite to my world as a business owner. I discovered the art of sculptural basketry – an art form that goes back to our primal roots and hasn’t changed for thousands of years. It was feminine, introverted, meditative and nature-based; compared to my entrepreneur life which was masculine, extroverted, technological and fast-paced.
As I explored this new art form, weaving twigs, leaves, sticks, and vines to create sculptural beauty, something incredible happened. My ability to bring new ideas to my business expanded. It started a new period of innovation and evolution in my business.
“I started to say yes to more opportunities, and instead of shunning the spotlight for myself, I used it to help other business owners struggling to be seen and heard.”
A light was switched on. I began responding to change in new and unexpected ways. I wrote a book; I launched an online, productised side to my business. I started to work with my team in different ways so the business could leverage the collective strength of our ideas. The business became more stable, but more importantly, I felt more in control of where I wanted to take the business and what its purpose in my life was.
I started to say yes to more opportunities, and instead of shunning the spotlight for myself, I used it to help other business owners struggling to be seen and heard.
Through art, I was able to change how I saw things. It helped me to overcome business challenges and appreciate risk and potential in different ways.
Engaging in slow and creative activities such as arts and crafts has been proven to benefit the brain by working both hemispheres. I’ve learned it’s important for us to strengthen the part of our brains that not only engages with logic and problem solving but also taps into the creative and imaginative side of our minds.
Having a hobby where you can sit down for a few hours and block out the constant noise of society can work wonders for your mental health and bring down stress levels. Not focusing on constant deadlines lowers cortisol, the ‘stress hormone,’ and engaging in relaxing, enjoyable activities heighten levels of oxytocin and serotonin in the brain.
Today my art is very much part of my identity. I conduct weaving workshops with my team, my office is overflowing with my sculptures, and I hold my own exhibitions – the artist and entrepreneur within me are interwoven and interdependent.
And my business is better for it. There are still challenges, things don’t always go to plan, but how I respond to these situations is heightened with creativity and innovation. Rather than feel inundated and paralysed, I see the opportunities that are only limited by my imagination and creativity.
CONNECT WITH CATRIONA HERE.
Catriona Pollard is an artist, author, speaker, trainer, and CEO. She’s the director of CP Communications, and the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step-by-step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. Catriona‘s latest body of work is a solo exhibition titled 11:11 running from 26 October to 12 November 2017 in Sydney, details here.
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