8 lessons I’ve been gifted from an investment in myself and my future;
As I continue to grow Suzy Wakefield Designs, the studio I’ve founded to support brands in bringing their apparel vision to life, it’s been recommended to many times by friends and colleagues alike, who have participated in a Mastermind group, the extreme benefits of the experience. As I would hear them all categorically rave about the value of this endeavor, my mindset was somewhere between the admiration I had for taking this step, juxtaposed with a small internal voice that it was not my thing. Partially, because I have long been of the thinking that I left corporate to start a design studio and I didn’t want to be too business oriented. WHAT? Yes, it doesn’t make sense but bear with me.
Over time I have come to the realization that wanting to run a creative venture and a business venture are not binary thoughts or endeavors. Consequently, as I warmed up to the idea, did some more research and talked to many in my network for the extra push, I was fortunate enough to find the Brand Masters Guild run by the talented Philip VanDusen. In a few short weeks not only has my business continued to flourish (more on that below) but it has seriously had such a positive impact on my life.
1. Strange Happenings Strangers can instantly become friends by joining in a shared purpose. In other words, connection and intention are great dance partners. Ever walk down the street and see something completely out of place and then notice that the person next to you does too? You’re instantly invested and you might even begin to chat and often walk away feeling good from the connection. This is that exponentially! We all walked in with some variation of the intention to grow our respective livelihoods and now leave ever weeks’ meeting knowing that there are nine other people supporting us to do so. This in itself is a huge motivator to keep on growing.
2. You Can Crowd Source Courage Part of getting thrust into a new group is that they don’t know your strengths…And the flip side is that they also aren’t aware of your Achilles heels. One of mine is being less than tech savvy. So, when I identified as one of my weekly goals, that I was going to put in my first mechanism to get email sign ups on my website— the members of our collective weren’t aware how much of a stretch this was for me. And that while I can easily identify corrections to make a woman’s bra fit her better, I cringe at the idea of restarting my computer, lest it lose anything that I have on it. Without the participation in my self-doubt, I was moved to work through my fear and figure it out. Thank you YouTube and thank you my new friends who gave me the implicit courage by not knowing how very much I needed it or how challenging it was for a remedial techie like me to figure it out. And by the way, here it is!
3. Perspective is Everything, Preferably not your own. We’re all so hard wired to think in the way we think. As resident creative guru Andy J. Pizza just referenced in his latest interview for Creative PepTalk with Peter Hastings, if you are doing R&D and you’re not finding anything new then you need to look at it from another angle or look outside your comfort zone. In our guild we have scheduled one on one meetings every week where we are paired with another member. It has been incredibly valuable to gain insights on ways of thinking and working outside my own. I leave every interaction with both tangible ways to improve whatever project we’re discussing and also with a healthy change in mind shift from taking in another viewpoint. As a result, something small can spark some action that takes your piece from How to Wow (Thank you Robert Smith). The constructive feedback and the experience of pushing you to embody different thinking as you create are intertwined.
4. Inspiration has to find you working There’s no getting around it. Motion causes momentum. I joke with my friends that Trying is my superpower. Of course, it’s not so super a power because anyone can do it, but you’d be surprised how many people lose an opportunity or a connection because they don’t go for it. I’ve been surprised time and again from way something I’ve tried worked out just because I did so. And this experience has reinforced that belief even more.
5. You Fly, I Buy A phrase I learned from one of my nearest and dearest that applies to a whole lot outside of lunch. It illustrates the support of the wonderful community I’m now part of in our guild. The mantra being, help each other in whatever way you can, whenever you can, wherever you or they are. Being in a group of creatives and business entrepreneurs crystalized this lesson for me. Everyone in it brings their unique talents, resources and network to help each other. Which then benefits all. Between our various human points of view, variety of interests, expansive networks and talents we all make up a complementary circle of trust. Which brings me to the next great lesson
6. The Shadow of a Leader is Real! In Life and in Work. I come from a long career in the corporate world where this phrase was bandied about often. It was meant to be inspiring about our founder and inspirational in how we should conduct ourselves within the organization. In the rearview mirror and in my current circumstances it has even more significance. In our Mastermind group, run by the wonderful aforementioned Philip, I am experiencing this at its most effective. He is knowledgeable, kind, talented and caring. His exuberance and painstaking care for all of us is exactly what we need. And it is his shadow that inspires each member to pick up the person who looks like their having a hard day as intensely as we celebrate with the person who knocked it out of the park in some way. Philip’s generosity of spirit is what keeps everyone doing the same. This has served to set a tone for the interactions inside and outside of our set group time. It’s also a great reminder to me to show up for others as I want to be seen. We are all leaders to someone whether we know it or not…
7. The Guild Effect. Philip mentioned this on our first exploratory call. It’s the idea that while you are investing in yourself and choosing to make a step forward, Karma will reward you with opportunities opening up. When I first heard about it I was internally skeptical without saying it out loud, because, well, it just didn’t make sense to me. Since starting our journey, I’ve become a convert. While I still don’t totally understand it, I’m a believer. I’ve gained opportunities, increased volume in my business and generally positioned myself to keep growing since our group began. I don’t say this to toot my own horn. I share it to encourage others that whether you join a paid group or set an intentional time with peers to be purposeful about forward motion, I truly believe that there is a tide lifting value in it. This value might not be tangible but it is real. Whether it’s a cheering section or a kick in the ass, the accountability of this group-think forward motion becomes the ethos for it.
8. Falling is not Failing. And last but not least-this lesson has been crystalized by the support of this wonderful group of counterparts that I now call my friends. They are talented, smart and prolific in their crafts. And this aside, a through line for all of us is that we have and will continue to fall. And some of these will be real calamities. It’s inevitable and necessary for growth. Without doing so, we will never truly rise to our potential. And as the great Thomas Edison said,
So, go ahead my friends- Put on your heels and don’t be afraid to fall!