Artists or businessmen?

So while I’m in the territory of challenging false dichotomies and then proposing new ones which are probably equally flawed but at least different…

I reread my last post and felt a connection with something I tried to explain to a friend recently.

Much of business life seems to revolve around the stated assumption that the customer is king and that matching our services to customer needs is the ultimate business virtue. I’ve never quite felt it but I do recognise the grasp this idea seems to have on people – both those who say they follow it, and those who castigate businesses for failing to.

One way to think of an artist is this: someone with something they wish to express to the world, without regard to whether the world cares to hear it or not. I’ve known a few artists who have laboured for years without recognition. Much as they’d like some, they carry on persistently without it. (A few lucky ones then achieve market success and are often tempted then to play to the audience).

In business, that kind of doggedness is often depised. And I fear that the consequence is a great deal of the fairly pointless, wasteful products put before our eyes in advertising, as if calculated to magnify our sense of dissatisfaction.

This interests me because I host a lot of Open Space, an approach which really challenges participants to give a voice to what it is that really matters to them, rather than pitching stuff to their guesses about what other people want to hear.

I’m sure there’s room for both approaches and many inbetween. After all, it’s a pretty useful social skill to be able, at least at times, to pick up the vibe and fit in with what other people are doing.

But in our uber-connected world, I wonder if the greater challenge for many of us is to find the true kindred spirits out there. And I don’t think you do that by picking up the backround hum; you do it by vibrating at a distinctive frequency.

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