Four Business & Creativity Lessons We Can Learn From Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton is one of my favourite writers - Essays In Love struck a chord with me that I’ll never forget. And How Proust Can Change Your Life is one I recommend to almost anyone and everyone. If you haven’t come across his work before, Alain de Botton is a writer and a philosopher and although he may not be to everyone’s tastes, his ideas and philosophies have really resonated with me over the years, and even more so now as a creative business owner. 

Although de Botton himself isn't a creative entrepreneur, many of his mindsets and values really align with those of my own, and today I want to share four business and creativity lessons we can all learn from Alain de Botton, and use these following four quotes as jumping off points to share some lessons and practical insights I’ve learned along the way in my solopreneur journey so far. 


Number One:

One of the best protections against disappointment is to have a lot going on

As a business owner, we’re pretty much betting against ourselves if we put all of our eggs into one basket. Industries are forever changing, and for a business to thrive it needs to evolve and grow along the way. If you want to build a life of creative and financial freedom, embracing the approach of having a lot going on is one I would really recommend. This isn’t to burn ourselves out or just do any and everything for the sake of it, but to be savvy and wise along the way it makes sense to have multiple income streams and a bigger vision for our work than what we’re just doing now.

Takeaway for you: Are you putting all of your eggs in one basket right now? Are you setting yourself up for disappointment? If you’re struggling to feel financially stable each month, or if you’re counting too much on just one service, client, or area of your work to bring in money and pay the bills, or maybe if you’re afraid your business isn’t built for the long haul, my best advice is to have more going on. Experiment, evolve, and move forward in your business. This is currently a huge intention of mine as we move into the second half of this year, and although it feels like a huge step of of my comfort zone, I know it's the only way to really move forward with my business and my work.

Number Two:

There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life

The quest for the perfect work-life balance pretty much always leaves me empty handed. Sometimes I can feel like I’m doing this whole thing completely wrong because I struggle to find and embrace what some would argue is a healthier approach to work and life. This quote from de Botton really resonated with me, it reminded me that when we choose this path of creative entrepreneurship we’re embracing a road that completely unbalances our life - but when done right, it can unbalance our life a really, really, great way. 

So now instead of searching aimlessly for a better balance, I’m choosing to embrace this road I’m on. Because even though I work from sunrise to sunset some days, there’s a peace and a wellbeing that comes from running my own business and doing work that feeds my soul that I wouldn’t give up for the world. And also the freedom that means I can take an afternoon off in the middle of the week to spend time with my favourite people - so maybe I don’t have a traditional work-life balance, but maybe what I do have is even better. 

Takeaway for you: If making big things happen is leaving you feeling a little unbalanced, a little overwhelmed, and a little like you’re making some serious sacrifices along the way - you’re not alone. Building a creative business isn’t something we do half-heartedly - we give it everything within us to make it happen. It’s an extension of our purpose, our passion, and our creativity, and that unbalance and need to embrace a new approach to life is just a huge part of this journey that we’re on. 

Number Three:

Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again - if we stand still, so will our business. And to move forward there is a lot of trial and error and mistakes to be made along the way - because that’s how we learn. I want to look back a year from now and see how much I’ve grown, evolved, and changed within my business. Even looking back just six months ago I can see how much I’ve found my feet within my client work and my voice as a content creator too - and I never for one minute regret the steps and the trial and error it took to get me from there to here. 

Takeaway for you: If you’re in a teething stage right now, if you’re finding your feet and you wish you had it all together already, I want to encourage you to embrace this part of your journey. We’re supposed to look back and wince a little about the mistakes we've made, because that’s how we become remarkable and unforgettable along the way - by committing to becoming the best we can be. And if you’re looking back and feeling uncomfortable about the mistakes and mishaps that you’ve made in the past, I want to encourage both you and I to show ourselves a little grace - as those mistakes and mishaps have played a huge part in helping us get to where we are today.

Number Four:

The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to

The mindsets we embrace along the way in our journey as creative entrepreneurs can be as much of a game changer as the strategies and tried-and-tested formulas we implement too. If I’ve learned anything in life so far it’s that we’re never really headed where we think we are - there are always twists and turns along the way that leads us onto a path that we didn’t even see coming - and to enjoy this journey wholly along the way, we can’t ignore the power and importance of the mindsets we embrace.

How we think, how we see the world, and how we manage setbacks, dissapointments, and unforeseen circumstances along the way defines our journey as much as our results and successes do too. 

Takeaway for you: Be intentional with how you’re living this journey. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a trap of negativity, entitlement, and ego-based decision making. Be flexible to the twists and turns along the way (because they always, always, happen), give yourself permission to let your dreams change and evolve as you go, and show up with a heart to serve and the will to learn. What defines our journey sometimes is not what we achieve at the end of it, but how we achieve it along the way.

Over to you - I'd love to know your thoughts?


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