You are a Creative Visionary. Meet Your Coach, Lauren Russo.

Lauren Dearing Russo. Photo courtesy of Tom Daly.

And that’s where the rewards are—being willing to withstand the uncertainty of whether people will like your work, will respond to it, whether it will turn out the way you wanted, or better, or worse.

Today, life coach for creatives, Lauren Dearing Russo talks to MD about some common obstacles artists face and some ways we can all tackle them. If you’re interested in learning more about how to leverage your time, energy and talents to make your creative dreams a reality–definitely check out her website laurendrusso.com. There you can find more free insights, plus an opportunity to work directly with her. Thanks for taking time to chat with us, Lauren!

You work with creative people, but in particular I always hear you talking about creative visionaries. What is a creative visionary? How do you recognize one?

Put simply, a creative visionary is someone who uses her creativity in service of a vision for something different. Creative visionaries are first and foremost grounded in the possible–as opposed to the likely or ‘business as usual’–it is from there that they envision and then actually create solutions, projects, art, and ways of being. I believe that we’re all innately creatively powerful people. Creative visionaries just feel more comfortable owning that power to actually make good on their visions for a life less ordinary.

For me, the visionaries are those who are not only choosing to do something different, but choosing to create something or some way of being that wasn’t there previously—and it all starts with envisioning what could be possible and then using your creative power to actually make it happen. We’re used to applying the word visionary to people like Steve Jobs, but I am actually way more interested in the ways that the world as we know it is opening up to allow all of us to flex our visionary muscle. The internet has created this amazing plethora of platforms–crowdfunding, self publishing, social media, and more—that mean that suddenly we are all our own gatekeepers of our own visionary work. I get so excited thinking about this.

Why do you like working with them? How did you decide to work with them? 

I love how courageous and brave and open and vulnerable my clients are. They aren’t afraid to the do what it takes to get what they want. They know that they deserve it (at least, after working with me, I hope they do!) I love empowering people to be their own bosses, mentors, and gatekeepers. A lot of them start off feeling like there’s something wrong with them—a lot of well meaning people have said to them why can’t you just get a job and be normal?—and I get to tell them that there’s nothing wrong with them and not just give them support but actually be a part of their project or business or life in some way. I love how many cool fields and projects they’re involved in—fashion, art, entrepreneurship, healing, writing, teaching, community-building, social justice, education.

Part of the reason I became a coach is because I think the world is changing—that a lot more people have the freedom to create a life and work that really engages them, lights them up, and impacts the world. I wanted to work with those people. When I thought about the kind of people I wanted to work with it was not just creative people but people who really wanted to change ‘business as usual’ in a lot of different ways. I think a lot of it comes from my own natural love of rebels (or, as my friend Teddy says, “stone cold pack of weirdos”). I love that I get to work with people who are doing something different that maybe not everyone around them understands, but are driven by this passion or this desire that they can’t always explain.

One challenge a lot of artists struggle with is uncertainty. We all need a certain amount of certainty in our lives to feel safe and secure–especially artists who often have a lot of uncertainty in their lives. Can you tell us more about how you think about certainty?

I think everyone struggles with where to land on the freedom-security continuum, but especially artists. Artists are all about taking risks, pushing themselves and their work, which involves a lot of freedom (which feels great, yay!) but also uncertainty (which is naturally terrifying, boo).

I think it’s easy to confuse certainty with security and think that we can’t have any freedom that feels safe if we don’t have certainty. But external certainty is very slippery—I would go so far as to say it doesn’t even really exist. I think the best thing we can do is cultivate an internal sense of safety and certainty—as in, believing that no matter what happens to you, if you fail or succeed, you will still be okay, you are still safe and loved and worthy. For me, that is the only true certainty. And when you are grounded in that certainty, in that internal sense of safety, it is much easier to take risks, to be willing to deal with all the myriad uncertainties out there. And that’s where the rewards are—being willing to withstand the uncertainty of whether people will like your work, will respond to it, whether it will turn out the way you wanted, or better, or worse. When you let questions of certainty, or your discomfort with uncertainty, guide you, you get a very different set of artistic results than when you are guided by an interior sense of security coupled with a openness to the uncertainty of life—because that’s where all the juice is! 

You work a lot on helping folks recognize their daily thoughts and beliefs–positive and negative streaming through their mind–so that they can alter them if needed to better suit the life they desire. What are some other common hang-ups artists have?

The most common one that artists and creative people engage is in questions of worthiness—is my work good, am I talented enough, will this project be good enough, will people like it, will it be successful, will it be as good as so and so’s project, will I get the recognition I want, do I deserve recognition, etc.

Very often artists use questions of worthiness to avoid the act of creating—actually sitting down and doing the damn thing—and to avoid questions of desire—am I doing what I want, am I listening to my intuition, am I being honest, am I connecting with my own inspiration, how can I problem-solve this block, what is my vision, etc.

I think one of the best things you can do is just refuse to engage those worthiness questions because they’re just there to slow you down, they’re not there to help you. Sidestep them, and put in your 10,000 hours. 

What’s your advice to those just beginning to recognize the creative visionary in them?

Stop worrying so much about whether or not you’ll be good or successful and start committing to a creative practice that is aligned with your vision of the future—even if that vision isn’t super clear right now the only way it will get clearer is for you to start actually creating stuff! You don’t have to quit your job or enroll in an MFA program to start your practice—you have all the tools you need already.

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