Seeing and Being Seen

By nature, many creative people tend to work alone. While I don't put as much stock in the ideas of introversion and extroversion, I do know that many of the people that I work with, and I myself, tend to spend most of our time in solitude. Even in the midst of a clamorous coffee shop I'm still within a shell of my own making, alone with my thoughts, oblivious to the people around me. One major challenge that I've found that's created by this need for alone time is that I don't get out into social circles, and people have no idea at all what I'm up to. Staying in isolation for such long periods, while often productive in terms of creative output, isn't conducive to making my livelihood.

In the beginning of 2016 I made a list of all the people that I'd met over the previous few years that I'd wanted to meet for more in depth conversations. I like to make lists of 100, so I had the names of 100 people. I made the commitment to reach out to each of them and invite them for coffee or lunch, or a drink after work. I made the time for this two days a week through the year. At the end of the year I'd met with 82 of the hundred people, and I'd added another fifty names to the list to continue the commitment into 2017.

This commitment has paid off in multiple ways. First, I feel much more a part of my community. In these few hours each week I've made friendships with people who I've come to support, and they support me in return. I am aware of all the things that they're doing, and they're aware of what I'm doing. I've also seen a boon in every area of my work. Many of these people show up when I have a music performance, and they share my coaching events with friends. Some have participated in events themselves.

These conversations open the door to being able to ask for support from each other. In fact, during the conversations I look for one way that I can be supportive of what they're doing, and if there's something they can do to help me, I'm becoming much less hesitant to ask. This has built a huge amount of goodwill and positive direction.

One of my guiding principles is that community is the source of all opportunity. If you feel like you've been too disconnected, try this commitment. I promise that the reward for the time you invest will be great. Make it a habit to get together with people and get to know them. See them and allow yourself to be seen. This is the foundation of thriving.