The Courage to Connect

Today I’d like to discuss making connections, online and offline. An essential part of developing your creative business is forming meaningful, helpful connections that will encourage your work.

When we talk about making connections and forming meaningful relationships, what we’re talking about in the end is love. You can get sources of love from your parents, your family, your partner, your kids, your pets, even from professional relationships in a broader sense.

Anytime you’re getting support and encouragement from other people, I see that as a form of love. Obviously we all want to increase these positive connections in our lives, because the more loved and connected you feel, the more creative and productive you’re going to be. It’s important to value and honor all of your supportive personal relationships.

“Love is life. All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love.”
– Leo Tolstoy

Women have a gift for creating new connections, but we often tend to be the givers and caretakers in our relationships. That’s a very admirable characteristic, but it’s also necessary for us to be able to receive. We must all work on being open to receiving support, and love, and encouragement in our relationships – whether they’re personal relationships or professional relationships.

This can start with something as easy as being able to receive a compliment. When people tell you, “Oh you look great today, what a pretty dress!”  you can practice not immediately saying, “Oh this old thing!” Instead, try responding with a generous, simple, “Thank you!” Practice accepting the love that is behind the kind, supportive statements you receive from other people.

I know this is easier to say than to do, and I tend to use the denial strategy quite often as well. When people pay me a compliment on something I’m wearing, I tend to say, “This? I got it at the thrift store.” But I’m practicing being more open and receiving, and I hope you will, too. It could open some new, undiscovered doors for support and love in your life.

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
– Anais Nin

During the past several months, I have been traveling through Europe and interviewing many successful women who are publishing books, developing e-courses, and living out their creative, entrepreneurial dreams. It’s easy to get awestruck and overwhelmed by their accomplishments, but I hear again and again that these amazing women often have incredible, supportive networks behind the scenes. No one can do everything alone.

Your job is to build your own personal support system.

Who could give you more time to work on your creative work? How could they support you with paperwork, email, housework, cooking meals, and/or child care? We’re all responsible for building our own supportive networks; this is essential to making our creative work a priority.

“Success occurs in clusters and is born in generosity.”
– Julia Cameron

Surround yourself with optimistic, positive people who are realizing their dreams, and it will definitely help you move closer to your dreams at an increased speed. Be generous with giving compliments (and with accepting them!) and keep good, focused energy in circulation. The flow of positive spirit and generosity will multiply and come back to you in surprising and unexpected ways!

Also, seek out people who are doing what you would most like to do – and don’t be afraid to contact them! People are more accessible these days than ever before through email, Twitter, and Facebook. Often, creative people are happy to answer questions or they might be future collaborators for a special project. You do need to think about what you can offer your collaborators in exchange: what kind of a creative project could you come up with that would benefit both of you?

Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid to ask others for their feedback and ideas.

Get in touch with the people you admire. Don’t see them as competitors, see them as peers and potential collaborators. The more you can help them, the more they can help you.

We’re all in a network together. The old-fashioned way of thinking is very protective, closed, and doesn’t let other people see what we are doing. The newer, more positive way of thinking is accepting that we are all in a network together, that we have the possibility to connect and collaborate with one another, and that we can help each other in the long run. Making those kind of connections is one dynamic key to getting your creative work out into the world.

One last thing to remember: Once you’ve formed these connections – once you’ve planted the seeds, you must go back and water them, nurture them, and give them light and sunshine and energy, just like with a garden. Plant the seeds of your relationships carefully, then take exquisite care of them so they can grow and flourish.

How do you make most of your personal and creative connections these days – through the Internet or in “real” life?  Have you made real life contacts with people you’ve “met” on the Internet?

Have a great week!



9 thoughts on “The Courage to Connect

  1. This was such a wonderful, positive message to read first thing in the morning. It was also the second message I read this morning about optimism — must be a sign. So thanks for the reminder to radiate generosity and love and gracefully accepting it from others.

  2. Lovely! The part that resonated most with me is that it’s essential to reach out to mentors. I tend to hold tight to my dreams–probably because of fear. I think what you’re saying is that sharing helps your dreams become reality. Did I get that right?

  3. This post triggered me to begin a blog posting of my own on the subject.

    I’ve never been strong at relationship building, but blogging has cast me into the fray and I hope that any success I have in the virtual world it will transfer into my flesh and blood relationships as well.

    Health is in loving relationships. I does take courage. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Thank you for this post Stephanie. I feel like I am a living testament to the power of connection, in fact it underpins my life and work and is the central theme in my Artists statement below;

    “The universal theme of connection underlies all of my work; connection to each other and the ways in which we express our humanity; connection with the natural world and the beauty that surrounds us; connection with the divine and a sense of something greater at work in our lives. My art is an expression of all that I see and do…a kaleidoscope of impressions, small things noticed and filed away, experiences processed or unfiltered, landscapes of my mind, characters and dreams impossible to forget. My paintings are often created intuitively and I am often surprised at the finished piece. I am inspired by our travels in Mexico and the colours, exuberance of Spirit and magical experiences I have shared with my family there. I love texture and the sensuality, rhythm and pattern of fabrics and often incorporate these mixed media elements into my work. I like to believe that we are all part of an intricate and breathtaking tapestry. Our only choice each moment is whether to be a part of the creating or a part of the unraveling. ““

    In the past twelve months I have made the journey from being a small town artist, teaching popular classes and workshops in my local area here in Australia to becoming an internationally recognized artist and workshop facilitator with a 5 month teaching tour in the U.S and Mexico this Fall/Winter and an invitation to teach in the South of France next year. All of this has happened because I dared to connect, put myself out there, build community and ASK for help. Powerful stuff!!

  5. I’ve just recently really realized how important it is for me to have real connections with women. I find that it nurtures my creativity and in turn my greater creativity leads to better connections – a fantastic positive feedback loop! While the internet has provided a unique portal to find and interact with like-minded people, it’s always fun to find those people in my area by attending classes or meeting up in real life with internet connections.

  6. Great message. I’ve made a ton of creative connections by going back to school and getting a master’s degree in creativity studies. Doing so has connected me to a great community of professors and alumni at Buffalo State.

  7. I realize this is not a recent post, but I stumbled across this great post when doing a search to see what else is out there re: the importance of encouragement and social connection when it comes to creativity. Four years ago I started a “Creativity & Camaraderie Club” for myself. (I had been facilitating groups professionally as a psychotherapist for 20+ years, but decided it was about time to give that gift to myself!) We have been going strong, having fun, and “upping our ante” since then. There is so much interest and desire for this sort of thing. It feeds two “hungers” at the same time: creativity and camaraderie! (I’m finishing up a manual soon on how we structured our group.)

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