I think we artists and entrepreneurs are double crossed by our own imaginations.
We act as though, because we can imagine something, we have the right to pursue it. We seem to think the greater the detail in which we envision something, the more likely it will be successful. And this isn’t a failure of imagination – not in the sense that we fail to be able to imagine it; but our imaginations fails us, because it is so much greater than the reality (which is why we’re blindsided by mediocrity).
The two audacious claims of most entrepreneurs and artists are that:
1) There should be this thing; and
2) I should be in charge of it.
That can’t always be true. Sometimes we create things the world doesn’t need (Regretsy, anyone?) but more often, we promote ourselves to incompetence. The sad reality is that, many times there are mid-level professionals that are not internationally talented–––or maybe not even nationally talented. They’re regionally talented. So they could be a really good drama professor at the local university; but instead, they’re going to run their own theater company. And you wind up having nine or ten theater companies in a town of a million, where even if there was just one theater company, you might be able to–––if you added all the budgets together, assuming that they weren’t cannibalizing–––have one viable organization. Instead you have nine starving each other. And I don’t know if that works. Maybe you’re not into theatre… web design, anyone?
I’m with some friends, and we’re discussing hosting a new art event, an art festival of sorts. I’m not going to go into too much detail, because we’re still working on it, but very quickly what happens is, we start envisioning. And we have very well developed imaginations. And very gifted people who are running a number of their own projects quite successfully–––passion projects. Somehow or another, by combining all our passion projects, we’re going to be able to pay everyone. I don’t think it works that way. Just because we can envision a theater, and film, and visual art, and story telling, and trans-media, and bloggers, and radio broadcasters, and music videos–––we’re in Nashville, we can throw those in–––that somehow or other if you throw all those together, it is suddenly going to work.
It’s quixotic. We can envision this castle on a cloud that only Don Quixote could see, or that there are these windmills that he was tilting at–––it’s a little bit like that.
Someone who has the ability to envision… “Oh, it’ll be this great restaurant, and it’ll be like this, and it’ll be like this, and it’ll be like this. And I’m gonna put it in this town.” I think there’s two things: 1) Could that town support such a restaurant? And 2) Should such a restaurant be owned by you just because you can envision it? And sometimes there’s a mismatch there as well. And when that happens, you can sort of suffer along with that idea for a while. But at some point you have to say either, “This thing doesn’t fit this time and place,” or “I’m not the guy, or girl, to make this thing work that way.”
I’m not sure everyone sees that, particularly my artist friends who very quickly want to make collaborations out of everything. And I’m not sure that more cooks in the kitchen is better, either. From a financial standpoint, if you’re going to split, now you have to split with everybody. So everybody gets less. And if everybody is doing 90% administration, 1% creation, it feels idealistic and naively short-sighted.
[alert style=”success”]Sound Off: Have you been betrayed by your imagination with starting something new? Are you an entrepreneur or artist that has realized the above? Let us know in the comments below. [/alert]