The other day out of the clear blue I got a referral to write some original music for a high end international dance troupe. These guys are Not F*ing Around. Fortune 500 corporate gigs, celebrity birthday parties, sold out shows in New York, London, Shanghai.
I spoke to the artistic director about her vision, the scope of the gig, how they wanted to use the music. It was a serious job. With tons of mutual respect for each other and the project, we dialed in everything except the magic number— the money.
Being creative and applying your skills, just like any other profession, generally has multiple perspectives. I LOVED this woman, her troupe and this opportunity. If I was loaded and didn’t have to sweat paying the rent, I would have done this gig for a thank you and a cup of coffee. But that’s not the case. My sched is packed. I’m always hustling side gigs. And I’ve earned my cred as a musician— a million downloads on Pandora (literally). An international award. A teaching gig at a prestigious college. Etc.
In years past I‘ve largely undervalued myself as an artist. And ya know what? It’s taken me forever to realize this simple connection, but it’s largely because I have undervalued myself as a person. F!
As in, believing I’m not good enough, smart enough, capable enough. I don’t want to admit it, but I know it’s true. And it’s shown itself not only in business deals, but in relationships, self care, and in other more subtle ways.
But I’m doing the work. Healing through my poetry, music and meditation.
So I gave the artistic director of the dance company a fair offer for my talent and cred, and the ways she was going to use the music. It was a big number. In fact, it would’ve been my biggest single music assignment ever. But she shot me down. She didn’t want to negotiate because she knew she would be at a tiny fraction of my offer and she didn’t want to offend me. Fair enough.
Even though I didn’t get it, my heart was shining big and bold and open and true.
I know what three decades of writing and recording music is worth. I know what I am worth. And if that didn’t fit her budget, that’s totally cool. Because I know it. And I shouted it out with no regret.
Not getting a sweet, high paying job is one thing. But it’s quite another to tap deep and find the love and truth within ourselves.
Our value is not based on the way the world responds to our creativity. Our value is deeper than that. It is huge. But so often it’s hidden. From the world. And even from ourselves.
Know your value. Please. As a creative. And much more importantly, as a person.
In what ways do you value yourself and a creative? As a person?
In what ways could you improve?