A few days ago I was speaking to a friend who runs an intimate guitar fixing & teaching business. He is an artist in his work and puts much care and attention into it. Over the past few months he has also been learning to make guitars – he dedicates an evening every week to building a guitar under the guidance and supervision of an experienced guitar maker.
My friend has also been struggling with questions on the nature of his guitar-fixing business and it’s place in his life. He strives to live a simple life and spend time at home with his family. He recently began a business-consulting/mentoring process to help him grow his business. This consultant asked him what was his objective in running a business in terms of profits. My friend answered a sum approximately equivalent to $2000.
When he told me about this – there was a sense of heaviness in his voice, presence and body. A number like that, in business terms, translates into questions: how many guitars need to be fixed? what do I need to do in terms of marketing to reach enough people to create enough guitar-traffic? The questions quickly go through so many topics which have nothing to do with his work – that the result is a dissipated energy, heaviness and a lack of motivation.
When we talked about this – I asked him why not focus on what he really loves doing – building guitars? It seems reasonable that a hand-crafted guitar can be sold for a profit of $2000 – so all he has to do is manufacture & sell one guitar a month to achieve his business objectives. In response to this his energy grew and expanded. The same objective, when stated in terms that are closer to his heart lit a spark motivation and passion.
Inspiration, motivation and passion need to be treated with care. Work can be about creating something, business can be about an exchange of values. When money becomes the objective it blocks out the core qualities of doing and leaves an empty and purposeless space.
When my friend creates a guitar and exchanges it – the exchange is an isolated, complete, beautiful and natural entity. When money is involved, it opens a door for other interests that are foreign to that exchange – a financial abstraction is born and has a life of its own. You can take 10% of $2000, but you can’t take 10% of a guitar. This life is independent of the original exchange or the intents of those involved. This in itself can be a thing of wonder because it enables others to partake in an exchange and enhance it’s total value, but it can also be abused and manipulated.