7-Lessons for Business Success
I participated in a “painting party” with seventy business owners. Painting has never been my thing. I don’t see myself as artistic. And creating an image by drawing, painting, sketching or anything else like that makes me uncomfortable.
There were rows of tables and easels. Each seat had paint, brushes and an apron. There were three platforms, also with easels for the instructors and a bar.
I searched for an excuse. How could I possibly get out of this “party”? I did not think it was going to be fun; in fact, I was certain I was about to expose some serious shortcomings.
With no way to escape, I got myself a glass of wine, took a deep breath and picked a seat near one of the platforms (I wanted to be close to an instructor).
I listened, I watched, I followed the directions as best as I could and I painted (and drank a little wine).
After a few minutes the room filled with laughter. We were having fun.
It took about an hour to finish the paintings.
Afterwards, I wandered around and looked at the paintings. Every one was different and while they probably aren’t museum quality, they all came out really good.
As I checked out everyone’s work I realized that there were lessons to be learned from the experience that apply directly to your business.
Here’s what I noticed.
1. We were all given the same materials and directions and told how much paint to use. Yet the colors turned out all different. They were all nice but some used more pigment and the colors were bold and deep, some used less color. They were less intense and softer.
Lesson: How do you approach your business?
Do you just go for it, throw caution to the wind? Do you take it slowly and cautiously? Do you stop when it is good enough, like I did because I was afraid I’d mess it up if I touched it anymore?
2. The instructors talked about “working the colors,” adding more to increase the depth, the texture and the contrast in the painting. It was obvious looking at the paintings that some people did more of this than others.
Lesson: In your business do you just put something out there and walk away from it?
Do you tweak and refine it a little, so it’s good enough? Or do you keep working and working it and are never satisfied?
3. No two paintings were alike. Some of the difference can be attributed to skill with a paintbrush but it went further than that. The real differences were about following, or not following, the directions. We were supposed to paint a sunset scene, there were several paintings that had nothing to do with a sunset, the painter simply wanted to do something else.
Lesson: In your business when do you follow directions?
When do you do whatever you want to do? When there is an expert leading do you follow their advice or do you ignore it? Do you follow an assignment or do you set your own rules? There is certainly a time and a place for both, just make sure that you consciously decide which rules to follow and which to set aside. 4. At some point along the way, most of us fell behind or got lost in the directions. Everyone handled those moments of confusion differently. Some asked the instructor for help, others called to assistants who were walking around, some asked the person sitting next to them, others looked at the person next to them and guessed at the next step, some made it up and others gave up.
Lesson: What do you do when you don’t know the next step to take? Do you get frustrated and stop? Do you ask for help? If you ask for help, who do you get to help you? 5. There were over a hundred people at the event; only seventy participated in the painting party.
Lesson: These people missed out on a really fun time. Do you engage even if you’re scared? Trying something new can be scary. Painting is WAY outside of my comfort zone. What do you automatically avoid in your business without really understanding what’s involved or even trying?
6. I already told you that I do not see myself as an artist. I don’t believe I can paint; yet when I came home I showed my painting to my son and he said “Wow, that’s really nice! And you say you can’t paint!”
Lesson: What assumptions do you make about your skills that stop you even before you start? Where are you shortchanging yourself? Where are you shortchanging your clients?
7. When we were done we checked out everyone else’s painting. A lot of them were really good but the “artist” would say that they didn’t like it. Thinking back to the evening, I said that I liked my grass but didn’t like the way the sun looked. The next morning I walked by the painting in my hotel room, it caught my eye and before I realized it was mine, I thought, that’s a nice painting.
Lesson: Do you see yourself and your work fairly? Do you pre-judge yourself? Are you open to seeing and acknowledging what you are doing well? I mean, be honest with yourself for a moment, if you weren’t talking about yourself what would you think of your accomplishments? Would you look for the flaws or the good?
Have you ever done something out of your comfort zone and found yourself surprised by the outcome? Do you pre-judge yourself? Do you risk embarrassment?
Carrie Greene is a speaker, author and business coach. She is a business strategist who helps entrepreneurs get clear on what they want and create simple and straight-forward plans to get there. She is the author of “Chaos to Cash: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Eliminating Chaos, Overwhelm and Procrastination So You Can Create Ultimate Profit!” Free resources at http://carriegreenecoaching.com/