For the next six weeks, I will be dedicating my Tuesday columns to sharing excerpts from my book, Dear Preston: Doing Business With Our Hearts. It is my hope that these columns will serve as a source of information and inspiration, and as always, I truly welcome your thoughts and feedback as I learn a great deal from all of your experiences and thoughts as well.
Dear Preston: I’ve worked a steady desk job for a long time. It’s fine, but I find myself longing to do something more creative in my work life. At the same time, I am not sure what it takes to build a creative business. How can I be sure that I am really a “creative person” before I put in my notice at my office job?
I have a simple truth for you: each and every one of us has a creative gift that only we can bring to life. If you want to start a creative business, I guarantee you are creative enough to do it. Being creative isn’t about being born a “creative person” with a “natural” talent, so don’t get bogged down in wondering whether you’re original or imaginative enough. In reality, being creative is about hard work, trust, and creating the right conditions for your creativity to flow.
John Irving, a wonderful American novelist, and one of my favorite writers, is a great example for this truth. He has published twelve novels, each one of them smart, funny, moving, and original. His books are read in high school English classes across the country, and a couple of his best-known works, The Cider House Rules and The World According to Garp, were made into popular films. By anyone’s standards, John Irving is an amazingly successful writer. “I wouldn’t say I have a talent that’s special,” said Irving. “It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.” That stamina, not some kind of special talent sets him apart from everyone, is his driving force. In school, Irving struggled with dyslexia, but he didn’t let this deter him. He claims that his success stems from the very hard work and the knowledge that he is always learning to write. He’s driven not by a unique, innate skill, but by his sheep passion for writing. Rather than relying on flights of creative fancy, work hard on your craft, whether you’re a budding calligrapher or an aspiring dog groomer. “Good habits are worth being fanatical about,” Irving said. You don’t have to style yourself as an artiste to run a first-class creative business. You just have to put in the effort, and do it not because you’re looking for external markers of success, but because you are a passionate individual who wants to learn and grow.
See more of the answer on Page 9 of Dear Preston: Doing Business With Our Hearts.
Readers: Do you think you have to be “born with a natural gift” or that you can cultivate your creativity through hard work?