"I am what they are not" - Esther David

"I am what I am" - Ani Di Franco

Most of the artists I work with beam when they talk about their creative journeys. To hear them describe their experiences singing, dancing, painting and acting is like witnessing Christmas morning or a surprise birthday party. The wonder and joy are both captivating and intoxicating.

The journey isn't all performing, of course. In addition to the magic of their artistry, there is the need for these men and women to stay at the top of their creative learning curves as well as position themselves in their respective marketplaces. Even those that have achieved enormous success must continue carving out a niche, lest they become irrelevant and obsolete.

Unfortunately, there is something that happens to so many creative people when they are asked to address these aspects of their art. The passion and talent that come through on every channel all but dissipate when they consider where and how they 'fit' into their fields. The proud, declarative 'this is me!' all too often shifts into a frustrated and confused 'who am I? who should I be?'

This is a common tendency not only of artists, but of entrepreneurs, company owners, and frankly, anyone not living in virtual isolation. The struggle to swim against the tide to the shore of self-distinction necessarily brings us face to face with those from whom we are trying to individuate and stand apart. It is a meeting more often of confrontation than communion.

Yet in focusing on and comparing ourselves with whom and what we are not- rather than on our unique contribution and value- we are splitting our energy and focus; we are dividing, rather than conquering. By nurturing the perception of competition between rather than our personal and proud creative process of, we remain in an endless struggle for position, rather than allow a distinction born of true value to emerge.

This value is meant to fuel not only your creative pursuits, but the business plan that supports it as well. Strive therefore in your positioning- as in your art- to be your most wholly authentic, entirely genuine self. Pour your energy into and prove nothing other than how much meaning, contribution, enjoyment, and learning you can pack into your work and relationships each and every day. When you do, the 'Who I Am' of your voice and passion will resound throughout your entire being and rise like the inevitable Phoenix... a rising and distinction that people will be inspired to see and go to great lengths to share.

There is no better marketing strategy.

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