I’m writing this post on my vacation because I’ve been thinking a lot about work. I know—you’d probably rather read about my weekend in LA, or my wine tasting adventure in Napa, or my dinner at Chez Panisse. Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “Here’s an idea, Chrissy: Why don’t you try not writing a blog post while you’re on vacation?” You would be making an excellent point. Why in God’s name would I want to talk about work?
The truth is, I think about work all the time, not just because I run my own business, but because my work is literally my life. Before you take that sentence and run, let me clarify: my life is the inspiration behind my work. When I quit my Wall Street job to pursue yoga, I had no idea just how much of my career would be driven by my life’s practice—that I would have to dig deep within myself to connect to the heart of what drives my business. Everything I do on this laptop—the writing, the editing, the strategy, the design, the planning, the marketing, the operations—is guided and supported in some way by my practice.
The force that brings my practice to life is my creativity; it translates my personal experience into a message I can share, giving a voice to my purpose. It’s my greatest asset and my biggest headache. My creative spirit sees the world in colors and words and light and texture. She paints these beautiful pictures in my mind and then expects me to drop everything to execute her vision. I’ve got a list a mile long of things that need to get done and my creative mind is off styling makeup on a marble tray for a piece she wants to do on my no-makeup makeup routine. She doesn’t care whether or not I can pay my bills, or if her ideas hijack the energy and resources of everyone else on staff (which, by the way, consists of me, myself, and I). Honestly, she’s kind of a diva, but we put up with her because she’s really good at her job.
Here’s what I’ve learned about creativity: it can only flourish when it doesn’t feel pressured to deliver on expectations. This is a real problem for my inner manager, who’s in charge of making sure that my creativity produces content that adds value to my business. My manager is responsible for fostering an environment in which my creativity can thrive, but then has to deal with the endless barrage of ideas that emerge as a result. It’s an operations nightmare. Getting the two of them to work together is my biggest challenge. I’m smart enough to know that this is a great problem to have, but sometimes I wish I could just be the creative or just be (someone else’s) manager.
So as I sit here on my vacation writing about work, I find myself chewing on an important question: How can I find more balance between the right and left sides of my business? How can I make my manager’s life a little easier (poor thing is totally overwhelmed) while also supporting my creativity and all six million projects she wants to pursue?
I think the answer lies in creating clearer parameters that allow each of them to focus on what they do best. For example, my creativity needs a designated block of free time where she can just stare off into space and daydream and experience life. Without that, she has nothing from which to draw inspiration. Tightening up my workflow systems could help me make that happen for her. A serious audit of my operations would probably reveal some inefficient investments of my energy. If I could redirect my manager’s attention to the nuts and bolts of my business, for example, it might help alleviate some of her anxiety while also optimizing her strengths. That way she’s not breathing down my creative’s neck, desperately trying to understand why she skipped the sales meeting to bake a peach tart.
This vacation has given me some much-needed perspective; I feel like I can see the forest through the (palm) trees. I want to work smarter, not harder. As my teacher Genny says, “We do this practice so that we can walk through our lives with more ease.” Her wisdom marks another opportunity to apply my practice to my work—that by redirecting my attention in a thoughtful way, I can better support the heart and soul of my business.