Collaboration Inspiration – when passion and purpose collide

Hi Everyone, how are you doing this week?

Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve returned to firing on all cylinders, for now, and that’s largely down to working with some great people last week and so today I wanted to talk to you about working in collaboration to spark new inspiration, confidence and deeper connections.

It’s very tempting to stay holed up in the Cabin, but getting out and discussing actual ideas with real people is so beneficial to us as humans!

As creatives, and especially the introvert kind, most of our work I’d say and particularly during lock down, is done by ourselves, on our own at the kitchen table, in our offices or studios or on the sofa whilst half tuning into the TV and the dog nudging your laptop to get your attention.

And whilst that works to a point, in terms of less interruption of creative thought (apart from dog and TV and requests for coffee from you know who), answering just to ourselves and allowing us to go with the flow in terms of timings, there’s a lot to be said for working with others to push our comfort zone and open ourselves up to further opportunities.

So, what are the benefits of stepping out of our caves for a while in the search of fellow creatives, aka our tribe and discovering who’s out there in the big wide world?

  1. Increased connection – working alone can be lonely, and it’s easy to slip into unhelpful habits and become out of practice communicating with people on a regular basis, which we know deep down is good for us, particularly in a world that has lessened our physical connections with humans right now.

It’s about making the effort for our own mental health and that of others, and if you need any more convincing on this, just read my friend @wendyshowellnicholas insightful and poignant blog on the subject of loneliness to realise just how important it is that we connect on a human level.

  • Sharing of ideas – following on from above, what you specialise in may be just the thing that a friend of a friend is looking for or that new member on the business Facebook group you belong to that is just starting out and has a query that you know the answer to – well you may just be able to solve their problem and one day they will return the favour or refer you to a friend.

Trust me from experience, this happens more than you realise and can lead to great friendships as well as expanding your learning.

  • More opportunities – similar to the above but once you start collaborating with people and the project is a success, it builds awareness that you are a good person to work with and who knows it may lead down a completely different direction that you expected, but an exciting one that switches things up a bit and reignites that passion for what you do.
The sessions with Psychologies Magazine would never have happened without the initial opportunity to be interviewed for a Facebook live with Editor-in-Chief,
Suzy Walker
  • Builds confidence – working solely on your own can lead to that inner critic voice, that all creatives are so susceptible to, to becoming quite loud. However, that recognition of someone else saying you are good at what you do, slowly silences those misgivings and beliefs, giving you the confidence to keep going or try different things, and that sometimes is worth its weight in gold.
  • Help and support – When you are working on your own, the buck stops with you, how something pans out or grows, is all down to you and your sheer hard work. Working closely with someone else shares that burden, and you can support each other all the way. The key to this is being clear from the beginning on who is responsible for the different roles of a project and committing to being honest with each other on any issues that come up.
  • Increased awareness of your own skills – Collaborating with people can be a real-life lesson and bring greater awareness of what you are good at, but also where your skills do not lie! This is nothing to be worried about, it would be impossible for us all to be amazing at everything, but it’s something to bear in mind when choosing who to work with – it would be good to pick someone whose skills compliment yours to create a great partnership in which you value each other’s specialist qualities.

So, what are some creative examples of this?

  1. Well, you could be an illustrator and a friend has just finished writing their children’s book and are looking for someone to illustrate it. What you need here is a strong brief and an honest relationship, be as clear as possible what you friend is looking for, the timescales involved, whether this would be a paid upfront or commission project,  how feedback will be given and whether you have any other competition, before taking on this collaboration project.
  2. A friend works for a mental health charity and is looking for a speaker at a local event for young people. You are a trained creativity mentor and have spoken at large corporate events before and would love to help, for free. Whilst your friend may bite your hand off so to speak, there are some questions to ask to check whether this would be a good fit for both of you, such as would the material spoken about be tailored to this very different audience and do you have the time to prepare that? What follow-up options are available if a young person seeks further help after the event? Does the charity have a strong ethics and values profile that you are happy to be associated with, not just because it’s your friend?

And what’s the best way to seek collaboration in the first place? This is where it requires you to think a little out of the box and getting curious about collaboration opportunities that may not be blindingly obvious at first. It’s about using the power of your creative brain and mind-mapping out some ideas and asking what ‘could’ you do, rather than only trusting in what you do now.

Groups like our WOW Wednesdays bring together like-minded people and you soon learn what you have in common including similar directions you want to head in

But at the heart of it is connection – people will want to work with you based on a feeling and how well they know you and what you are about, which requires putting that knowledge out there, whether to friends, family, colleagues or people you connect with online.

This is about being consistent with your brand messaging and purpose, the more people who understand what drives you and what you are passionate about, the more you will come to mind when working on projects that match these topics, vision and values – you want to be the first person people think of as a spokesperson / creator on/of X.

And it’s about ensuring all that is either visible via the likes of your work being distributed or shown at things like exhibitions, through books or workshops, on your website or Blog or using social media, marketing, and PR.

OR the alternative or addition to this is to become ‘famous’ by word of mouth, by sheer fantastic reputation and recommendation by your customers – now we’d all like a bucket full of that please!

To give you some more examples of this, I want to share 3 collaboration projects I worked on last week…all interestingly stemming from our Accountability Group – WOW Wednesdays.

  1. Firstly, was working with Clair, of @asocialnature, my accountability partner and co-founder of WOW Wednesdays. Working with Clair goes a little against the advice of what I shared above in that I’d say 80% of our skills and personality, are very similar, in fact we are exactly the same personality type on the Myers Briggs scale, both INFP-A Mediators.  We also both have children the same age, with similar hobbies and we are both Aquarians!

Our central skill, training and passion is writing and it features heavily in both our work, as well as our love for social media. For Clair that is central to her business as a Social Media Manager.

We both love the outdoors and nature and enjoy photography. I’d say the only slight difference is that Clair is more comfortable technology wise although she swears only when she’s done it once, and maybe I’m more arty and visual, e.g. love playing with Canva and logos. She has more ‘business’ skills being further on in her journey than me, and I’m still at the many 4am ideas stage.

Last year Clair and I attended this vision board workshop together, a fab day and the ideas were flowing!

When we get together, particularly on our passion project of WOW Wednesdays, the ideas start flowing and we spur each other on and create a lot of excitement! So much so we’re now going to make sure we book in a day a month at the co-working space @theflexcollective for this purpose. There’s often been talk of us creating a podcast together, and I can see that happening if we can ever carve out some more time…(it’s on the list!).

But last week, it was all about creating a new Facebook Group for WOW Wednesdays and we had a great few hours working our way through it, setting up the group, adding all the content and creating the logo. All of this we are sharing in our first physical meeting since lockdown in the very Covid-safe facilities in its new home of The Flex Collective and we can’t wait to share what we’ve been up to.

This partnership works so well due to our shared ethos of what the group should be, we’ve been clear and in agreement all along about this and how it is evolving is no different.

  • Next up was the podcast interview I recorded with the Two Northern Lasses, aka Michelle and Jayne who are also WOW Wednesday members. They set up the podcast last year and although they’re now having to record interviews via Zoom, it is growing from strength to strength as a time where the world-wide podcast audience has grown massively during the pandemic.

Little did I know when we recorded it was actually World Podcast Day, and they were close to hitting their big number of 5000 listens, which made it extra exciting (They’ve hit that and some now by the way!).

We’d been trying to get this recorded for some time so it was great to finally manage it and we had a really fun conversation talking about my previous career, moving from corporate life to what I do now, our shared love of nature and dogs, my relationship with @psychologiesmagazine (another huge collaboration!), and my journey with creativity, that also helped me through my chemo treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Key to doing an interview like this, is feeling comfortable with the hosts and I like their very natural, down-to-earth style and banter with one another and so it was such an easy and enjoyable thing to do and we all had a much needed laugh in relation to a tough few weeks for small businesses and child-care issues due to Covid track and trace in schools!

And again, it’s about ensuring your values match – The Two Northern Lasses podcast is all about sharing inspiring local business and career stories, and I’m all for that and celebrating what people can achieve.

This is a good example too of sharing your story in interviews such as this, becoming more visible to allow a wider audience to get to know you and what you are about.

I know that people find how I dealt with the whole diagnosis and treatment of Hodgkin’s inspiring through the many messages I’ve received, and Michelle and Jayne touched on this and whilst that was lovely and appreciated, and I do hope it inspires people in similar positions, I am always keen to reiterate that it’s having a purpose and my creative projects that got me through and for me there was no other way, which I hope then strengthens the message of what I’m all about – i.e. that creativity for well-being, health and contentment works!

For anyone wanting to catch up on the interview, you can find it here.

  • And finally, I had another practice coaching session with Wendy (another WOW member – see the theme here? if in doubt set up your own group of people who you know you will connect with!).

A few months ago, we both contacted each other on the same day in some serendipitous moment that was clearly meant to be!

Wendy needed some help with some new directions she wanted to take her business in and I was desperate to go down the new channel of coaching to help people on a more one to one basis (Wendy is a highly trained Counsellor, psychotherapist, NLP master practitioner, coach, independent social worker, author, mindfulness teacher and passionate speaker and educator on many areas of wellbeing). Following an hour and half chat, we knew we could work together and support each other!

Wendy has helped me so much with techniques, suggestions, and feedback and although initially slightly nerve-wracking (for me!) we are both really enjoying the sessions, in particular the creative tasks I’ve been setting to help with mindset and direction and bring out the creative side that she didn’t fully know existed – you see it’s always in there and I love discovering it in people!

I feel like we both view the world in very similar ways and once again this has led to another idea coming up that I have always had on the back-burner, and psychic Wendy (as I’m now calling her as this keeps happening!) has contacted me with this very similar idea to work on in collaboration!

It’s top-secret, for now, but of course it ensured a 4am wake up call with a billion ideas for the title over the weekend! Will I ever sleep properly again is the question I’d love to know?!

Safe to say this new project has got me very excited as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do – which just goes to show, finding and connecting with ‘your people’ is sometimes all that’s needed to set the collaborative wheels in motion and maybe I was never meant to do it alone anyway?

So, that’s how the collaboration magic has worked for me this week and it truly does feel very special when it happens. If this is something that appeals to you or that you have experienced too, I’d love to hear all about it below in the comments, or via DM on my Instagram @thecuriouscreativeclub.

Until next week, keep safe

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps eagle eyed readers may have noticed that I’ve played around a little with the header and fonts, this is following what we’ve done with the FB Group we’ve been creating as I love that! So, I decided to make this one cleaner and easier to read the titles with a new font and background (still one of my photos though, above, blurred into the background!), I hope you like!

Inspiration Corner – What I’ve been up to this week

Reading

Writing Magazine

The November Issue and in particular the article by Helen Stockton on creative none-fiction was really interesting as I learned what classifies as this specific genre and the increased audience for it – basically this Blog and the book that I’m writing!

Listening

Make a plan, make it happen Podcast – Josephine Brooks

On the same topic as above, Josephine Brooks interviewed Emma Block, author of The Joy of Watercolour, this week for her podcast, on how to tap into the none-fiction market and how she became published, a really interesting discussion with plenty of tips for anybody interested in publishing a none-fiction book.   

Happy Place Podcast – Fearne Cotton

Last week Fearne interviewed Jay Shetty, a best-selling author and podcaster who at just 21 years old became a monk for 3 years, he talked about finding your purpose and my key take away was this:

“Purpose = passion + strength + compassion” – high five to that!

Watching

‘Life’ on BBC 1 / Streaming on iPlayer

I love it when I find a series, I become hooked on and I end up binge watching it I like a book I can’t put down! This is one of those series! 4 different families whose stories interlink and leave you thirsty for more! I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t like it!

Books

I’ve paused the Clare Mackintosh’s book club read, Blurred Lines as it’s just not pulling me in, yet, although the reviews are good, so I might persevere in a while. In the meantime, I’m trying ‘Ghosts’ by Dolly Alderton and I’ve got several new releases stacking up on my Kindle, I especially can’t wait for Jodi Picoult’s new book, ‘The Book of Two Ways’.

3 Comments on “Collaboration Inspiration – when passion and purpose collide

  1. This is a fabulous read, Juliet, very inspiring, going to follow up some of those podcasts! I now feel even smaller because I can’t crack on with all the things I’m desperate to do!! 🙂 xx

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    • Thank you and I do think you’ll find those podcasts useful, especially the Josephine Brooks one on past episodes. I’m interested what you say about feeling ‘smaller’ though, what do you mean by that? Xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I mean that I have all these things I want to do, been working on getting more visible, and then I see others doing exactly what I feel called to, and feel behind, like I’m shrinking again etc. I know it’s the old comparisonitis/imposter syndrome at work, but can’t help feeling it!! xx

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