This is the 1st post in a new Series-
Key Principles for Creative Life & Career Design.
FIND INSPIRING (virtual) ROLE MODELS
Knowing what is possible for you in your careers scope and impact is greatly supported by finding exemplary role models who’s works and achievements truly inspire you. They don’t even need to be accessible or alive to act as a muse and guiding force.
“Almost all artists derive succor from the dead. The dead continue to give willingly when the living won’t return phone calls and refuse to remember your name. Holding fast to your creative heritage is a way of building an impassioned support system without dealing with anybody! …Having a deep love and understanding for the men and women whose work has inspired and influenced your own can create a spiritual family that has just as much power as a living friend.” -Carol Lloyd from the book ‘Creating a Life Worth Living’
Of course, it is more ideal is if you can find a role model who is not only alive, but also willing to do some active mentoring with you. These relationships can be hard to come by, and the people worth having them with are often very busy. In all centuries previous to ours, apprenticeships and mentorships were the primary ways that trades were learned. Even though we have come so far from that now, many of us feel a sense of nostalgia, or a yearning for that sort of relationship. And anyone with a good heart who has had a fruitful career wants to find ways to help those who are coming up with similar callings. So if you do find a living role model from who’s guidance you would greatly benefit, create a win-win proposal of how you can also benefit them and then pitch it to them!
My own college experience was more based on mentors and advisors than teachers. I did a self-designed degree program through Prescott College (Integrative Arts major & applied Ecopsychology minor). Each course that I designed had to have a clear objective, a set of activities to meet that objective, method of evaluation, and a local mentor who would oversee the course. I was responsible for finding that local mentor and requesting their help. Even though the monetary exchange was very small, I almost always got a yes, and so for 4 years, at any given time I was engaged with 3 or 4 mentors loosely helping me to achieve the objectives of my courses. It was very enriching to work with so many people already established while I was just a student, including authors and key contributors to my field. One of those mentors in particular became a key advisor to me and is now on my board of advisors for Catalyst Arts.
Now most of my role models are virtual and I tap their wisdom through their books and their examples.
1.) Write a list of 3-5 people who’s career path inspires you and what it is about their work that turns you on.
2.) What would your ideal apprenticeship be? Who is the teacher (if they don’t exist imagine them up) and what are you learning from them?
3.) Make a word document of web sites and bios of anyone you come across who does something either similar to you or something you aspire to do. You can also put businesses and organizations on this list. I call mine ‘Role Models’ and open it up when I need a good reminder of what is possible 5-25 years down the road.