One of the things about networking is that you are expected to be in a really good place emotionally and business-wise when you do it. And the thing about going to speak at a conference, or lecturing in education, is that they very rarely seem to want/invite people who are having a really tough time, or failing at something. We often listen to our colleagues around the break-out sessions telling us great good news stories, and expect to watch inspirational speakers telling us how brilliant they’ve been. I wonder whether sharing success teaches us as much as sharing a bit of hard-knock life.
I’ve had reason to think about this three times in recent days. Firstly reflecting on how unmotivated this weather, and returning from holiday, makes me feel. Looking at the Stage Newspaper with all its tough stories of struggle, and inspirational articles of daring-do, can make me feel as though my glass is half-empty and draining. Then I spent the weekend at the amazing, inspiring, powerful, informative and transformational Devoted and Disgruntled conference over the weekend with 250 other creative professionals. [Although it was reported that Equity had decided this D&D thing was just a bunch of amateurs Ahhhh – 10 years of passion about theatre and a major Union still doesn’t get it….end rant]
I was actually bouncing this weekend, full of energy, passion for helping make connections and hear about projects. I suspect along with some others, I was not always aware when there was someone feeling rubbish, or overwhelmed nearby. I heard from someone who had felt this overwhelm, and in the final closing circle of reflections I shared that concern. It was amazing how this one comment seemed to unlock more honesty around the circle about the scary nature of any event, and our need to be sensitive to newcomers and those who may have had tough times/felt failure and need to share this.
And finally this morning I was at a great 4N Networking event when we again heard a very honest statement from someone when asked how things were, and how things had gone along their journey of membership. Rather than showing the swan’s amazing plumage they allowed us a rare look at the less glamorous fast peddling webbed feet below the surface.
How much more can be learned from the honesty of failure and disappointment, than just another person in line saying how fantastic stuff is. Life is tough. Business, and creativity, and arts, and running your own business, and life can be rubbish. We can ask for help. We can regain our full glass of frothy enthusiasm for the business and creativity we love.
“Anything you need is just a question away” and “What is the question that, if we knew the answer, would set us free?” – two powerful thoughts at the end of Devoted and Disgruntled this weekend.
Raise a full glass to the arts / and remember we all have half-empty moments.