05 July 2011

The Middle Way

This is a guest post by Cari of CoquetteBath.
Scientists have long ago determined that folks can be either right or left brained. That is, they say, why we are either analytical or creative. But like all reality, the truth lies somewhere in between. I've never met anyone who was so analytical as to be robotic. And I've never met any creative who wasn't concerned, even slightly with commerce.

But I 'get' the analogy. And for most folks, it is rather true. But for some of us, those of us lucky (or cursed, depending on your point of view) to trod a middle path. One foot (probably clad in a most businesslike loafer) squarely planted in reality. The other wearing a way cool paint splashed clog delicately balanced between heel and toe. Ready for adventure.

At least, that's how I view the world. And while The Middle Way is a Buddhist philosophy that makes a lot of sense (after all, we are all a mixture of everything), business folk often downplay the necessity of creativity. Stalwart soldiers of commerce as they are. And creative types often have trouble resisting that cool new paint, bead, or fragrance oil. Creativity, after all, does come with a price. And that is often bulging cabinets and bank accounts with withdrawals that might make an accountant scratch her head.
Photo: kanelstrand
Do what you do to the very best of your ability

If you make anything, eventually, you'll want to sell it. And that makes perfect sense. And brings the creative one step closer to the business world. And that's okay. But it can also be daunting. To be successful in this brave new world, you have to push yourself aside a little. Speaking as a fellow creative (who, weirdly enough, has a degree in business...) the most important words of wisdom I can offer are these. Do what you do to the very best of your ability and don't sweat the small stuff.

Lots of power in that one sentence. So, let's break it down a little. Do what you do. Well, that seems easy enough. Do what you do, what you love, what makes you happy. Because happiness is contagious and that makes other folks happy. Do it to the very best you can do. But get this... you'll never 'get there'. Even the finest artisan is constantly improving, refining, both skills and presentation. And that is perfectly fine and wonderful and even... expected. Life without improvement is stagnation at the best.

And that is not the creative way. Not even close.

So you're doing what you do to the best that you can and you run face into the wall that is... to not sweat the small stuff. By small stuff, I mean don't worry about how much you are going to sell. When are you going to sell it? Will anyone like it? Is my vision clear enough and bold enough to be noticed? To...

See where I'm going. The latter part of my original statement... to not sweat the small stuff is more critical than anything else. Naturally, if you want to go into business selling your way cool items, you're going to want to actually SELL them for ready cash. Makes sense. I get it. But don't worry about it. You'll get, in the beginning, a lot more 'no's' than yeses. And that's fine. Each time you don't get a sale, pay attention. Are they your customer? Would they have bought from you if the price were lower, the size larger, anything? If no, then they're the 'small stuff'. Let them pass you by like chaff on the breeze.

Photo: kanelstrand
Put your energy where it needs to be

Go back to doing what you're doing. Artists are famous for being sensitive. And for being a bit—honest here—too sensitive. Maybe your product has a very limited market, but in that market it will be amazing. You just have to find it. The wild world of the internet has linked us in ways unbelievable a few decades ago. As I write this, I'm sitting in an extremely hot (100 degree F) day in Fort Worth, TX. And yet, you could be on the entire other side of the world. That's cool. That also opens up your market for your stuff to a huge audience. An audience that would never have seen you a few years ago.

Progress, for sure.

By not sweating the 'small stuff', you're putting your energy where it needs to be. In the creation of bold new ideas. Of making something (which is what, if you are a creative, you live for in the first place). Please keep in mind, while you're doing what you do to the very best that you can, and avoiding the small stuff, that some stuff...well, it isn't small. And you do have to pay attention to it.

Life and friends. Family. Health/exercise. Balance and moderation in all things. That is the Middle Way of the sages and seers. It is the best way to have a more balanced life. And isn't that what this entire jumble is all about, anyway? To figure out the best path (and best is simply what is best for you and yours) through this life, creating, smiling, living and breathing.

If I write to you again (and I hope I do) we can chat more about this. But I want to thank Sonya for giving me a space to write to you. I am also an artisan. I own Coquette Bath & Home™ and make fabulous bath and body products (plus the most deliciously scented candles, wax melts and more). I do sell on Etsy and Artfire, but you can also check me out on my main site www.coquettebath.com. Unfortunately, the only place (due to shopping cart restrictions) that I can ship internationally is through Etsy. But if you see something 'elsewhere' and want it there, just let me know. And, if you do shop with me, drop me a note and say that you've read this post. I'll put something special in the mail with your order. Promise.


  1. awesome article! I am so happy that happiness is contagious!:)

  2. My Mom always told me to find balance in everything. Nice article.

  3. Great post, thank you so much!

  4. Happiness is contagious!


  5. Excellent article! Islamic religion also places importance on the 'middle way'; and I strongly believe that moderation & balance are key to a healthy life. It's probably one of the things that many belief structures can agree on! A wonderful subject, and wonderfully written!

  6. This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately! I think I'm one of those people who's close to the middle way, but I still struggle with art and commerce, making what I want to make and earning a living. I know many others are in the same creative boat! I've read a lot of "how to sell" business articles, but it ends up taking the joy out of creating a bit for me. I don't really want to have to think about if something is cost-effective or production time. So for the near future, I'm going to take your advice and go back to doing what I do and trust that my customers will find me. Thanks! :)

  7. Beautifully written post that touches upon some really powerful points. Although I lean toward creative, I definitely have some of the business side in my as well. And as someone who lived at a Buddhist center for 3 years, I've all too familiar with the middle way! Thanks for a really lovely guest post!


  8. This is something I struggle with. I prefer to be on the creative side but need to think about the business side. The business side zaps the joy from the creative side...always a struggle! This is definitely some food for thought!

  9. Well said! Too much energy is wasted worrying about details that end up being irrelevant in the big picture...

  10. Great post! I can't wait to delve into this blog! I found you via the Etsy Blog team.

    - Janet

  11. you make some very good points .. very encouraging ~