I opened up Hint Jewelry in 2008, but it wasn't until last week that I actually valued my craftsmanship. I was hand pressing some new charms when everything started to click. I rolled up a ball of metal clay, pressed it carefully into a mold, gently lifted up the edges, and thought "wow, this charm is utterly perfect!"
In a simple moment of pure artistry, I saw a whole lifetime wrapped up in one little charm -- twenty years of drawing, four years of printmaking, two years of ceramics, fifteen years of knitting, a year of baking bread, and thirty years of making sandcastles. I've looked at, read about, evaluated, and made choices about art for over twenty years, yet it took me two years and thousands of reassurances later to fully understand that people appreciate and purchase Hint Jewelry charms because they contain the whole blueprint of my creative journey.
I'm sharing this personal story, because making art doesn't always feel so complete. In fact, most of the time it can be downright uncomfortable and frustrating.
One of my favorite movies from the 80s is the The Karate Kid for I always wanted a teacher like Mr. Miyagi to show me the way to mastery.
Repetition = Mastery = Success
One of the concepts I learned through teaching is that the number one thing all people want to feel is a sense of success. To achieve feelings of success you must first obtain mastery, and the ONLY way to master something is through the experience of repetition -- doing something over and over and over again.
The reality is that most people quit when things start to get uncomfortable or boring, so they never experience enough repetition to reach a place of mastery. Here is where I like to keep Mr. Miyagi's wax on, wax off lesson in mind. Learning hurts. You should be crying, confused, swearing, falling down, screwing up, wasting time, tripping over yourself, and looking like a blubbering idiot. If you aren't experiencing anything close to discomfort then you're probably not learning to your fullest capacity.
My two greatest stumbling blocks to mastery are wanting every moment to be easy and running away when something feels boring. I don't have a Mr. Miyagi that dishes out tough love when I complain or commands me to stay present when I want to check out. All I have is a commitment to myself and the faith that repetition is the key.
Last week when I pressed that wonderful charm, I had a small payoff for my hard work. I saw that by going back day after day over the course of two years of making Hint Jewelry charms, I experienced one of those moments of perfection where the truth of my value is undeniably clear.
When you feel a sense of success you might find yourself doing a little dance and exclaiming "nailed it!" However, last week I realized the true magic of mastery is a quiet, still wisdom that builds from the inside. A confidence in your authenticity. A fullness that roots you to the ground.
Make your business your place of practice -- your workshop of repetition and road to mastery. Cherish your mistakes as blessed discoveries. Embrace one thing about your business such as a technique, medium, or process, and do it over and over again until it bores you to tears. Then do it some more before you jump to the next new thing. See your clients as coaches on your path to mastery, for the more they receive from you, the more repetition you will experience in your business.
There is no doubt that you exist and have inherent value. However, by building a practice through repetition and mastery you come closer to feeling the awesome power of that value.