Wow! What a weekend I’ve just had. I’ve just attended Clare Bowditch‘s AWESOME Big Hearted Business (un-)conference for the second year…and to think that both times I almost didn’t go! Last year I wasn’t sure that I (or my new business) was “creative” enough, until I kept getting signs front the universe that indeed I was and I was meant to be there…and if it wasn’t for last year’s event…this blog would not have been born (read more here), and I might never have started my own architectural practice. This year I honestly thought that as I’d had my turn last time, it was now time for someone else to have a go, as there were limited tickets. However when they initially announced that it was not sold-out, a friend’s grandmother’s wise words would not leave my head…”What’s for you will not pass you by“, and I jumped and bought a ticket for this year’s event. BEST. DECISION. EVER. (Twice now!)
I went along last weekend trying NOT to have any expectations…but that is very difficult when the inaugural event was such a life-changing moment for me (and everyone else there!)…does the sequel EVER live up to the original? Not usually…but thankfully I was wrong. This year’s BHB was every bit as inspiring, motivating, engaging, encouraging, emotional, funny, educational, connecting, etc., as the first, but more importantly for me, it was a very timely reminder of just how far I’ve come on my journey this last year, and it reaffirmed that I’m on my right path.
My head and my heart are so full after the weekend, so I cannot give justice in this one post to the all the words of wisdom by trying to summarise them now. (I might go into some more detail in future posts). But the real secret (SHHHHHH!) of the Big Hearted Business (un-)conference is that it is NOT really about “business” at all! The essence of whole event, is that it is really about life, happiness & fun, dreams & goals, values & purpose, ethics & truth, emotional wellbeing and not just a focus on finance, ….sounds pretty good, huh?! “Do what you love, make money, and save the world” is their tagline. And really, this stuff should be taught in schools, to everyone, everywhere! How many business conferences do you know where you get to laugh and cry, sing and do “bo-ga” (Bogan-yoga), meditate, and hug your frentors? (No “schnetworking” here people!).
So what does this all have to do with my business as an architect with a passion for green buildings, sustainable design and healthy homes? Well, it’s confirmed that for me to be creating my sustainable architectural practice in a non-mainstream way, and on my own terms, is not only “acceptable”, it is absolutely VITAL. Want to why I became and Architect? See here. And what about my philosophy? Try here.
The speakers that I engaged with the most, were the ones who were able to tell their story in such a simple authentic way – pure communication that made their message appear SO SIMPLE, made it FEEL SO RIGHT. That is part of my vision, to tell “elemental” truths, to practice “elemental” design, and to lead by example like these inspiring big-hearted people do….and I’ve just figured out WHY these speakers such as Joost Bakker, Danielle La Porte, Fabian Dattner, Pip Lincolne, Missy Higgins & more were so able to connect with their audience on this level. They have such a strong belief in themselves and why they do what they do, that we instinctively want a piece of the action too! We all over complicate things and have lost touch with what really matters. But things are changing. Revolution is a BIG word, and not one I’d use lightly, but if you were there on the weekend you’d feel it too….watch this space and look out for the rise of these big-hearted businesses!
PS A huge THANK YOU to Clare Bowditch and the Big-Hearted-Business team and to ALL the big-hearted attendees who are now part of my tribe…If you’d like to read more about the conference from others who were there, I highly encourage you to check out these blogs and support these amazing folk!
Pip Lincoln from “Meet Me At Mikes” http://meetmeatmikes.com/2014/05/stuff-i-learned-on-the-weekend/
Martine (Vintage Prints) http://viewsfromtheredbrickroad.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/deciding-to-rise/
Helen Edwards – no relation to me! (Recycled Interiors) http://recycledinteriors.org/2014/05/07/big-hearted-business-conference-2014-good-fail-happy-dance-feeling-way/
Amanda Dziedzic (Glass-blowing artist) http://littlebirdbigchip.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/big-hearted-business-and-my-crush-on.html
Tahlee Rouillon (The Attitude Revolution) http://attituderevolution.net/big-hearted-weekend/
Selina Braine (I Can Draw) http://icandrawwithselina.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/the-bhb-un-conference-has-brought-me-here-what-a-weekend/
Lisa Miller (Multiples of Two) http://multiplesoftwo.com/you/big-hearted-business-unconference-2014/
Always Josefa http://www.alwaysjosefa.com/pieces-of-me/big-hearted-business-2014/
Gill Stannard (Naturopath, Health and Happiness coach) http://gillstannard.com.au/2014/05/13/what-missy-higgins-knows-about-wellness/
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Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop generously funded by the City of Ballarat for creative businesses. It was held in the award-winning Annexe at The Ballarat Art Gallery, and was presented by Susan Nethercote of “Creative Conversation” Australia. Susan happens to be a dear friend of mine (and we’re also second-cousins!) so I’ve seen all the love she’s put into this new business, and I must say, it is very impressive! Susan knows what she’s talking about when it comes to running a small business – she has been running successful urban designer clothing label Manque for over 13 years (if you don’t know her label, check it out, as her clothes are awesome – “urban designer clothing for REAL women”). She is passionate about helping others in their creative quests, and is a natural when it comes to speaking to an audience – she’s very authentic and engaging.
The workshop was called “Holistic Business Mapping” and was essentially about creating a business plan, but not in the traditional sense. As the name might suggest, it was really much more about using our intuition to help map out not only the future of our business and how to make a living, but also about creating a life we love. There was so much content crammed into the one-day workshop that I left feeling exhausted, inspired and excited! After attending the Big-Hearted Business conference earlier this year (and my eyes being opened to a different way we can ‘do business’) this was the perfect practical follow-up for me – a whole day dedicated to thinking about the future of my business/life, and setting actionable goals to get where I want to be.
Susan had thoughtfully made a special folder for each of the 24 attendees, including the four topics that we covered over the day, complete with custom-made dividers, inspiring quotes, notes, blank paper, exercise sheets, and lists of resources/links/further-reading. Susan is a very organised and motivated individual, and she explained her love of lists and folders (YES! Embrace the inner nerd!), so to have this folder to keep all our business-plan info together is a great gift!
We also all received a little show-bag which included business-cards and flyers of all the attendees on the day. This was such a great idea as we can now all follow, support and encourage each other’s endeavours too. The creative conversation can now continue…
If you’re a creative type and are running a business, you might be interested in signing up for the Creative Conversation newsletter, or following the Facebook page. Then you can be kept in the loop about future workshops and also the coaching services on offer.
Tell me, are you a goal-setter? Do you have big dreams? What drives you and keeps you motivated? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
Recently I’ve been thinking about creativity, passions, dreams, and also about fear, self-doubt, and a lack of confidence and courage. I’m probably not alone here.
What am I afraid of? Failing. Making a mistake. But I’m human, we all make mistakes. Fear shouldn’t stand in the way of our dreams. I know I can learn from the experience, and improve, so where does this fear come from?
Is it in our nature? Is it nurture? Is it because I’m a woman? Or perhaps because I care about the consequences of my actions? Do I try too hard to be perfect?
It could be genetic; my mum is a bit of a perfectionist too, and would often say “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”. There was never any pressure from my parents for me to succeed. I loved learning, and was diligent. I suppose I earned a reputation for being a good student, so it became expected that I would do well. But whose expectations where these? Probably mine alone. I was motivated to get high results at Secondary School so I could study Architecture at University. Although I was a confident teenager, I still remember being in shock when my VCE results came through and I was one of the top students at my school – I had seriously doubted myself.
“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong” and
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do” (both gems from Eleanor Roosevelt)
I then went from being a big fish in a small pond, to being a teeny-tiny fish in a massive University ocean. I felt pressured to do well – I had a fear of failure. The subject of “Design” was so different to my high school studies. It was so subjective. There was no correct mathematical answer to get right. I was always nervous to make that first tentative line on the page that would begin the creation… what if it didn’t turn out the way it should? (There is a also whole other story here about how “Design” was ‘taught’, with many tutors giving very little in the way of helpful encouragement and guidance, but plenty of criticism which rocked the confidence of many impressionable students).
When my eldest son was just 2 years old, I noticed that when we sat down with crayons and paper, he too seemed to lack the confidence to draw. He’d ask me to draw things for him. He knew that his ability could not match what it was that he wished to see on the page, and it frustrated him enough to give up. I came across a fabulous book at the time called “The Dot”. It is described as being “for anyone who has been afraid to express themselves – from a child in art class to an adult whose fear has shut down a long-held dream, Peter H. Reynolds’ book “The Dot” is there to remind us all to “Make your mark, and see where it takes you.”
My son has since become very creative with his drawings. He was just going through a phase, like we all do. He just need some time, and some gentle encouragement so he felt supported which boosted his confidence. We all need encouragement, motivation, and reminders to help us on our way, and I guess we need to learn to rely less on others to provide this guidance, and try to find it from within so we don’t forget how courageous we really are.
“Creativity takes courage” Henri Matisse
I believe that by staying interested in the world around us, finding beauty in nature, being inspired by the creativity of others, nurturing ourselves and connecting with loved ones, all help keep that positive inner sparkle alive. Taking risks makes you feel alive too! Especially when you do succeed, what an enormous confidence-boost that is! We have to be prepared for the inevitable failures too, but know that they will only make us stronger. A wise woman recently told me to “fail while daring greatly“. So that’s what I plan to do! And another of my mum’s favourite sayings was “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Thanks mum, that’s good advice.
I have taken a few risks recently, and it felt good! It felt right. Things started falling into place. We packed up our family and moved from Melbourne to Ballarat for a “tree-change”, and to be closer to family. I’ve started my own Architectural Practice, no longer an employee, but having to take full responsibility. These were both big scary things, but I followed my intuition, and everything seems to be falling into place.
Joseph Campbell said it this way: “…if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
I’m looking forward to seeing what’s behind the next door…
Tell me, have you been courageous lately? If not, why? Go on, just do it! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
My life has changed. The planets are aligning and everything seems to be falling into place. This is my first post of my new blog/website which will not only give me a presence for my new business (architectural practice), but also a voice with which to share some passions, and perhaps inspire others in the way I now feel after experiencing THE most amazing weekend. I am now more confident in the direction I’m headed, and the future looks bright!
The term “life-changing” may sound wanky, but in this case I believe its warranted. I spent two days at the “Big Hearted Business” Conference (www.bigheartedbusiness.com) at Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne, which was dreamed up by the gorgeous, talented, big-hearted Clare Bowditch. The promo read “Do what you love, make money, save the world. (Is that too much to ask?)”, and the room was full of 200 odd creative women (& a handful of gents) who were keen to find out if their passions and talents could really translate into a successful business.
However this was not any ordinary “business” course. It was really about something much bigger than that. How can we have a meaningful life? What are our dreams? Is it possible? What’s stopping us? Clare began the weekend by strumming her guitar and singing a track “Amazing Life” from her latest album “The Winter I Chose Happiness”. It brought tears to the eyes of many in the room, as Clare has the ability to share stories through song which resonate to the core of her audience… and the energy in the room shifted – we all knew this conference was going to be amazing!
Each and every speaker who presented their story, also generously shared their pearls of wisdom and were all truly inspirational. There were many common themes throughout the weekend, that I felt I should try to summarise/interpret the essence (if that is even possible!) so the knowledge can be shared, and I can also return to these reminders when in times of doubt.
INGREDIENTS FOR AN AMAZING LIFE
- MIND Many of us are “Multi-passionates” and we require both left-brain and right-brain thinking. A calm “smiling-mind” will help on our journey each day.
- BODY Our bodies need to be nourished with healthy food and excercise. These are the foundations before anything else can happen.
- SOUL Follow your heart, do what you love. What are your desires? Feel inspired. Nurture you. Achieve Life Balance – it is possible.
- EMPOWERMENT We must take responsibility for ourselves. We must make the choice (“Choose Happiness”). Listen to your instinct for the answers you seek.
- TAKE RISKS Get out of your comfort zone! Get over your fear of failure, be daring and learn from your mistakes. Start now. One step at a time. Just do it.
- ENGAGE Continue to make connections with those who inspire, support and nourish you. Forget the rest. Make new friends. (Very different to “networking”).
- TIME Efficient time-management requires discipline and good planning. Learn to prioritise, .
- CONFIDENCE Believe in the value that you bring to the world. Be positive.
- YOUR STORY What is the big picture? Set goals, acknowledged passions, and find meaning in your life.
- SHARE Be authentic and honest about your story and other will want to share your journey with you
- EVALUATE Welcome feedback, ask for advice, improve yourself and strive to be better! Be a role-model and an influence to those around you. (But don’t be a perfectionist, be a “completionist” – Thanks Catherine Deveny!)
All of this SHOULD be so obvious to me, as a woman. But it feels as though everything we have ever learnt, the way we’ve been educated as been from the ‘left-brain’, and from a male perspective where there is too much ego, too much competition, bullying and criticism. Businesses run by creative women with big hearts really are the future…and we all (particular the younger generations – both women and men) should have the opportunity to learn these lessons too.
So now that I and my fellow conference attendees are still on a high from the weekend, while the enthusiasm is still fresh, and while the light is still burning bright, we must seize this moment to ‘pay it forward’ and make a pledge to lead by example, and be an inspiration to others. Clare and the BHB team have started the movement. now we must lead the way…