If you’ve ever taken a science class and studied rock formations, you know that it is possible to change the face of a rock, any rock, by repeatedly, over time, applying something to it. Water dripping in the same place on a rock will eventually, molecule by molecule, wear a path into that stone. The longer it drips, the deeper the groove.
The wind, which can neither be seen nor touched, is only invisible by in its effect on the surrounding environment, can erode the face of stone. Words, which are equally invisible except for their effect on the people and the surrounding environment, can erode hope and joy and the very well-being of people.
Hope in New Life
In my early 20s, everything was an adventure, and I wanted to go everywhere, and see everything and do everything because it was all new. Remember the sense of expectation that everything would turn out fine? Remember how your anticipation and excitement increased when you thought about your new future? You were graduating from high school or college. You were taking a new job, meeting new people and your whole future lay ahead. What were you dreaming of then? What plans were you hoping to accomplish then?
I had no real map for my life. I didn’t know how anything would turn out. I didn’t understand the importance of planning and goals. I certainly didn’t want to hang around people who were going to rain on my dreams or list all the reasons why my ideas wouldn’t work. I wanted to find out for myself. During the trial and error phase, we sometimes gain insights that slipped by other people for whatever reason. Because of that, we are able to make something that didn’t work for them, work for us.
But without a model, many of us will spin our wheels repeating the cycle of attempt and fail. In the process, some will give up. Some will press on trying many things and keep going. What is the difference in those two groups?
I moved away from everyone who knew me and started over. What I really needed was a mentor. By working with someone who had traveled my path, I would see the choices that led to their success. They could help me in ways I didn’t know I needed help because of where they had been.
In my twenties, I wanted to create humorous illustrations. As a self-taught artist, there were things that I missed out on that “schooled” artists gained: self-confidence, meeting and learning from other artists, considering alternative but equally fulfilling work and networking for future work.
At the time, there were no social media channels. Before I left, the mindset was get hired by a publisher of books or comic books. This limited thinking proved frustrating. I’d moved to another state where I knew no one and worked in an art supply store. Through that, I began meeting more like-minded people. People that knew some of my goals and helped me connect to art-related opportunities.
By divine providence, I met PJ Andrews, a caricature artist. I took one of her classes with a friend I’d met through the store, and we began learning to draw caricatures. PJ had been hired for an event and needed two more artists to work with her for a party. My friend and I were hired.
That night, I was encouraged by the people I drew, and by PJ herself. Through that experience, I learned the value of my work, how to conduct business, write and submit contracts and network to get more gigs. PJ named her hourly rate and never dropped below it. She didn’t undersell herself. She already knew what the market would bear. She helped me chart a course, think through ideas and encouraged me in ways to make them a reality.
As I developed my style, I caught the eye of a talent agent. He sent me work consistently for many years. I was invited to a lot of great parties, saw some absolutely beautiful homes and resorts and met a lot of truly wonderful people and even more caricature artists. Within a few months of taking the class, I began making $50-$75 an hour plus tips. I really enjoyed my work and my life and moved into other creative outlets for my work.
There’s no telling what else would have come out of that had I not moved away, but I was told that my business card was on the desk of all the entertainment people in that city. It opened up a stream of income that served me well while I lived in that state.
The Mentored Path
Even though we learn from going our own way, some of us will derail our dreams, some of us will derail our futures and some may not recover. A mentor can lead you in productive ways to go and help you avoid fruitless paths. At the very least, a mentor can expedite the track you’re traveling on. I might have figured it out eventually. It was worth every nickel to pay for a mentor’s time, get a referral, an opportunity, and prove myself. Because then I worked at an elevated level of income.
Sharpen your Focus. Spend time with a paper and pen narrowing your goal to a single point. One very sharply focused goal makes it easier to find someone in that field willing to be your mentor. Map out steps. What do you need to learn? What does it take to gather a first client and future clients? What is your projected income? Can you make it sustainable? Is it scalable?
Since my caricature drawing days, my focus has shifted, but what has not changed is that my goals still include making a living by creative means. I have hired different mentors who have helped me move forward in those goals. It’s easier now than ever to find people to come alongside, by networking through blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook groups, Opportunity and many other social media platforms globally, nationally and locally.
What this means for you
Wherever you are right now, your thoughts are being aligned to fit your current environment. It may be through that invisible wind or a constant dripping. It may take a short time or many years, but it’s happening one moment at a time. Is it where you want to be? Are the people at the top people you want to emulate? Have you noticed ways that your current environment has either eroded or improved you?
Where do you want to go? How long will it take? The advantage I had in taking PJ’s class was that I already knew how to draw and had been doing so for 15 years. I didn’t doubt my ability. In this new venture, had to learn better face drawing skills. Motivated by the chance to live an exciting new life, through daily practice, I did learn. As I became more confident, my speed increased and I became one of the most active caricaturists at that time.
A lot of skills you currently have may easily transfer to your new opportunity. If you have a lot to learn, it may take longer, but the rewards of taking charge of your destiny are worth it. How do you put a value on intellectual property? Much of what I learned while drawing caricatures transferred to writing and other business opportunities. Those lessons continue to benefit my life many years later, in ways I could not have foreseen from my 20s.
When you look at your future, where are you a year from now? Five years from now? Ten years from now? today is the day to take that first, or next step, toward your new destiny. Let us hear from you so we can cheer you on!