Creative LeadershipCreativity

Are You a Creator, or Protector of Your Turf?

Brad Lomenick has some really good advice on flowing between the five stages of creative development.  His advice?  Don’t get stuck in one. Here’s his ideas:  “Taken in concert, these five stages can be healthy, important parts of growing any creative endeavor. Isolated and obsessed on, any one of these stages can cripple your best intentions. Focus on moving between them. The key is to not just hang out in the “caretaker” stage, where you protect and defend everything you’ve developed, instead of returning to the “craft” stage.

– Craft – You create something out of passion for the art of it.

– Crowd – An audience discovers you’re good at your passion.

– Commission – You earn money for the thing you love to do.

– Career – You turn a passion into your profession.

– Caretaker – You protect and nurture the thing you’ve created, and do everything you can to “defend” your turf. A dangerous phase.”

Once we’ve achieved any level of success, the tempation to become a “caretaker” rather than creator is very powerful.  I encounter it all the time in my media consulting work.  What’s your take?  Do you see it, and how do you overcome it?

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5 Comments

  1. I always find that my solution to a defensive mindset, is to go on the offensive. The minute I start to drawback and try and protect something, I become more vulnerable. But if I go on the offensive and look to expand, the more opportunity opens up. And the more creativity flows because I am stretched to think differently. I now have to think how can I expand and nurture what i have going. That’s just my two cents.

  2. I actually went through all five stages and Lomenick is right on when he says not to get stuck in one. I got stuck at number five. There were other factors involved (deteriorating health being the main one). When I first started my ministry, the church media field (non-Hollywood, church-congregation-centric church media) was tiny. I quickly became a leader in the field through my website and by speaking all over North America. I wrote a book (endorsed by Phil :-)) that became a staple in church media for a while. I had started in 1995. By 2008, the church media “field” had become an “industry” and I didn’t feel like I fit in anymore. I got stuck in the “caretaker” phase and it IS VERY dangerous.

    A few relationships were damaged due to turf wars, although most of my relationships are still intact. Being in this stage limited my ability to create new relationships with up and coming would-be competitors. Some I could embrace, while others seemed to be vying for my “position” in the industry, so again I defended my turf. Unfortunately, being in that position can make you look insecure — and people won’t hesitate to exploit that perception. Although everyone has insecurities, I just really wanted to hang on to what I had put so much time, effort and money into. I didn’t want my work to be minimized or looked at as being passe by anyone. So, yeah, I got into a defensive mode.

    What was hard — and something not addressed in your blog — and something I still don’t know — is knowing what to do during that phase or how to get past it. I felt like I had to not only top myself, but top others as well. I went into a tailspin and ended up selling my website and clients for pennies on the dollar. I wanted completely out. Almost a year later I realized that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I needed to get back into ministry. The new owners wouldn’t sell my site back to me and my publisher doesn’t see me as the commodity I used to be, so now I’m starting at phase 1 again. It’s great to get a fresh start, but very frustrating at the same time. I’m taking a different approach and will avoid “celebrity” as much as possible. But some bridges are burnt and it’s just really hard to start over. And most of it is because I did get stuck at phase 5.

    So how do you get past it or deal with it?

  3. Phil, I think there’s something else at work also.  

    Many artists may actually never actually achieve Commission nor Career because they move from Crowd straight to Caretaker.

    Years ago, I was able to see the Caretaker phase in action in my life.  I went from Craft, to Crowd, to Caretaker in swift succession.  I’d written and directed a short play and left it with a community theatre to reproduce as they saw fit.  I visited a year later and they’d changed some things.  Although I was cognitively prepared for it, my emotions definitely were affected.  “How could they?!” I thought.  But after a while I realized that the piece was no longer mine.  I experienced the Caretaker in me letting go.  It’s been helpful for me to recognize that, as an artist, I am also a servant.  The key is to figure out how to always move back to Craft; and that key may be different for each person.

    For me, I try to recognize what about an idea or story makes me excited.  If I’m excited, I’ll pour myself into it.  If I’m defensive or dreading working on it, I’ve moved out of Craft.

  4. I have seen all phases of this process. Those who tend to be a little more insecure in their skills will get into the Caretaker stage but those who have confidence in their abilities tend to take a different route.

    I don’t have a “C” word to continue the alliteration, but I’d describe it as empowering, equipping & mentoring others. Instead of hanging on to what’s been created, it’s given away.

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