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Creative Collaboration: Playing The Win-Win Game

By K.M. Tremills

As a storyteller, I always assumed I had to go it alone.

Whether I was writing, pitching, or taking meetings, I bought into the solo artist myth. Our do-it-yourself culture reinforces that to earn something — to be worthy of your success — you have to scale the mountain without help.

No oxygen. No sherpas. No one to throw you a rope when you’re hanging off a cliff.

But here’s the thing.

Collaborating with other folks is FUN. Oh my god, yes!

As I dangled from yet another creative precipice, and wondered how the heck I was going to get myself out of this latest terrifying scenario, I noticed that there were folks who knew how to scale rock-faces WAY better than I did. In fact, they wanted to show me HOW to scale the cliff. And they had the ropes, shoes, and carabiners ready to go.

What, exactly, am I referring to with this rock-climbing metaphor? Graphic design. Marketing. Event Planning. Copyediting. Sales savvy. Any skillset you’ve been led to believe you must master and do all on your own. I promise that there is another person who is not only far better at it that you, but who LIVES to do it!

This is what I call the blessing of the Win-Win scenario.

To paraphrase Gay Hendricks, from his game-changing book, The Big Leap, we all have a genius zone. Not our comfort zone. Or excellence zone. But our genius zone. That Einstein-level, time warp you enter when creating from your true passion and brilliance.

Time disappears. Creation flows. And magic happens.

Every person on this planet has a genius zone. And if I pretend that I am any good at graphic design (which I am not), I am robbing another person of expressing her genius! I discovered that if I accept that I suck at design and choose instead to empower a person who is brilliant with graphics, I step into the virtuous, time warp of creative collaboration.

Even more exciting, is how fast someone in her zone completes tasks I put off for weeks.

One of my genius zones is writing and storytelling. I have honed my craft for years and adore the process of telling stories. So when I choose to write, I am fast! If I focus, I can create a short story in one day. I finish that day feeling tired, but deeply satisfied.

When I struggle to complete a task that I am far from good at, it takes hours, weeks, or even months. Partly due to procrastination. And partly thanks to that old belief that I have to do everything alone. Plus, I am learning while doing, which slows every action down tenfold.

No more! What a beautiful world we make together by empowering each other to live in our genius zones. All while building our businesses faster and easier.

So how do you get started with collaborating creatively?

First, ask yourself what tasks you’ve been putting off. If these skills are not your expertise, make a list of people who either excel at them or might know someone who does.

Next, reach out to those people. Creative collaboration begins the moment you make a request. Even if asking for assistance feels scary or difficult, take the first step by believing you are worthy of partnership and support. Then make the request.

Finally, be clear about what you need and what you are willing to exchange. The currency of collaboration can be money, time, services, products, expertise, and more. Remember that you have as much to offer a creative partner as she has to offer you.

Once you discover the liberation and exhilaration of creative collaboration, I promise you will leap with joy off the Do It Alone cliff into the wide-open Win-Win skies!

K.M. Tremills is a lover of myth and story. She delves deep into the realm of the human spirit in two distinct series, The Great Lands and Fated, as well as her Fiction Vixen collections, Fabled and Three Short Tales of Red. When not creating fantastical worlds, she gives strategic counsel to creative entrepreneurs. Her latest offering is a course in Creative Breakthroughs: Smashing through Blocks to uncover the courage in your heart. Kate has contributed to Elle Canada, Moving Pictures, and ScreenTalk and is a member of the Writers Guild of Canada. Find out more at www.kmtremills.com and connect with Kate at Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook.

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Has your business hit a plateau?

By Rachel Jessica Huxtable

There’s one thing that we all face as creative business owners and that’s plateauing. It’s inevitable that we will face challenges along the way, just as we will inevitably face periods of coasting. But at each stage we have to recalibrate and figure out what’s stopping us from taking our business to the next level.

The first business I founded in my early twenties was a film production company that started out as a platform for myself and other creatives to produce visual stories. It only took a year before we were being asked to shoot corporate and private client videos. But once I started earning some nice dollars on film projects, I noticed I wasn’t pushing for more clients. Why when things were going well did I seemingly just stop?

The thing is, whilst I am passionate about telling stories, being a producer wasn’t something I really wanted to do in the long-term. So eventually, we ceased working with corporate clients and now just do in house work for my current business.

Secondly, I created a health and wellness website called eatbeautiful.org. It was going great guns, I grew the platform to 12 regular contributors, with a team of 4 editorial staff. The site was moving along nicely however, progress had stalled and I wasn’t seeing the results I really wanted.

I decided that whilst we had created a beautiful community of health and wellness seekers, it still wasn’t quite hitting the spot. I had to take a step away from it to really contemplate if I was willing to put in the time and effort to take it where I wanted it go. So I literally stopped all business operations for a few months. And in that much needed time off, I was able to get clearer about the purpose of Eat Beautiful - and we recently relaunched the organization with a new social conscious focus and a clearer vision about what we wanted to offer our community.

All the while, I had been writing for my own site www.racheljessicahuxtable.com since 2009. I have always written about personal development, spirituality and entrepreneurship, but didn’t turn it into a business until a few years ago (I self-published my first ebook in 2011). Now we help people around the world through our blog posts, videos, books, mentoring and online programs.

It became really obvious that all the skills and talents I had been investing into my other businesses were now all encompassed into just this one. 

I remembered that my real purpose was to help people live their best lives and I was obviously passionate about storytelling and communicating across various mediums. Remembering this helped me get clear about the vision of my business, WHY my business exists, what we stand for and how we serve our customers and audience. Putting all of this into my business vision was really the key to overcoming all of the plateaus I had faced over the years.

So here are some of my tips to help you overcome a plateau in your business;

1. Know your purpose.

Why is this important? Because knowing your purpose will get you through all the plateaus and lows. Being an entrepreneur is a journey of self-discovery. Building a business is a journey of peaks and valleys. As much as we would all LOVE to be on the up swing all the time, there are going to be highs, lows and plateaus.

Knowing the deeper purpose for your business and how it’s going to help change the lives of the people you serve is one of the most powerful tools you have to get you through the tougher times and inspire you to take your business even further.

2. Set regular review dates.

Setting goals for your business is great but if you don’t review the progress it’s really hard to measure its success. 

Pick a time frame and set a review date in your calendar (I like to do 3 and 6 months and each financial year). Write down all the goals you want to have achieved by then and what you want your business to look like.

When that date rolls around, you’ll need to take a look at how your business is doing. These are great moments to really assess whether your business is moving in the direction that you ultimately want it to go and whether it’s making the impact that you originally intended.

Ask yourself some questions like;

What is my intention for this business?

Is it being received well by my customers?

Are we making substantial progress?

Is this what I am passionate about?

And where do I see this going?

3. How can you expand or grow as a person?

Our business can only expand and grow as much as we have as a person. Being an entrepreneur is an incredible opportunity to not only become the best versions of ourselves, but to create, innovate and lead with what we’re offering to the marketplace.

If you have stalled in your own personal growth, it’s likely that your business will have too. Dedicate yourself to constantly learning and growing your skills in all things business; leadership, marketing, sales, but also invest time in your spiritual and personal growth too.

Most of the time, people are buying your products and services because of who you are rather that what you are offering them. 

Ask yourself; 

Who do I need to become to take this business where I know it needs to go?

Like any journey in life, creating a business is just another way we can uniquely express ourselves. We are going to run into all sorts of challenges, great successes and mind-numbing plateaus. If we view each of these as opportunities to reassess and reevaluate our vision for not only our business but also its place in the world, we can keep growing, improving and creating businesses that make a difference in the world.

Rachel Jessica Huxtable is an author, speaker and mentor on personal growth, spirituality and entrepreneurship. Through her blog posts, videos, books, mentoring and online programs she inspires women around the world to live with purpose and soul and make a difference in the world. She has been featured in The New Daily, Peppermint Magazine, Tiny Buddha, Your Zen Life, Youthful Habits, Desire to Done, The Sparked Company, Beautiful Because, Bliss Habits and Gabby Bernstein’s HerFuture.com. Get her Purpose-Driven Business Planner FREE HERE. Connect with Rachel at her websiteYoutubeFacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Photo Credit: Unsplash