You know those magical creative moments when it all just flows? The story or the business idea or the picture emerges and it’s like it was just waiting for you to finally discover it. That’s what it was like for The Sovereign Standard, this new weekly curated newsletter.
In the midst of a typical family Saturdaymorning, the idea announced itself:
The Sovereign Standard takes its stand at intersection of livelihood, message, and everyday creative magic and aims to give creative entrepreneurs access to noteworthy insights from across the web.
But you know how it is - you careen from visionary brilliance to obsessive wordsmithing. All the initial genius leaches out and the concept begins to feel overanalyzed and underdeveloped.
Sometimes the fault line in an idea stems from a single word.
The flaw in the initial Sovereign Standard “download”? “Intersection.”
Intersection indicates that business and communication and creativity all merge, but it also implies that they’re distinct tracks that are only drawn together from time-to-time by a project like this one.
In truth, you're constantly braiding together of all those strands - all of the elements of life and work, body and soul. To set your own Sovereign Standard, you take all aspects of your life into account and, consciously as you can, integrate them all.
Why Would a Writer Want to Curate Other People’s Stuff?
Thanks for starting with me from the very beginning. Here’s a window into the “why” of this new Sovereign Standard adventure.
In a word: connection.
The goal of a weekly round up + commentary is to expand your connections in a meaningful way by introducing you to fellow creative entrepreneurs as well as leading thinkers in business, creativity, and progressive leadership.
The Sovereign Standard community may be rich with solo entrepreneurs, but this is not a bastion of the DIY mindset. To borrow a term from a great community builder, Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder, it’s about DIT - Do It Together.
Jeffrey names the contradiction that so many creative entrepreneurs face: “We want to feel supported in our work, but when we receive it, we don't know what to do with it. We don’t trust it.” In this detailed and, yes, lengthy piece he lays down a compelling case for why support and collaboration are vital to even the most brilliant solo acts.
In the process of building up this publication, I’ll also build my own connections as I read with your needs in mind. I get to create relationships with smart, tuned-in writers and media makers who are saying things that matter.
And, yes, I admit that I am working to build my email newsletter list. I trust that the insights carefully gathered from at least a dozen other sources will be more compelling than sending you the same single voice each week.
These aren't new ideas. They don't have to be.
Think you may want to build community in a similar way? You wouldn't be copying me. You’d be joining a growing cadre of content curators who understand that their tribe is plagued by information overload. Your tribe would appreciate it if someone they trust would handpick some “must reads” each week.
I trust Copyblogger products and after investing many car rides in the Rainmaker podcast, I can tell you I trust their CEO Brian Clark’s instincts.
He has launched his own new curation project. The process is detailed in three episodes beginning with this on Content Curation Positioning. I immersed myself in this topic over the last few weeks and can also recommend an earlier episode that gives an overview of the entire curation as content concept.
Soon you’ll notice that many of the people you trust most on the web are building a community by assembling useful, compelling resources all the time.
The day before I announced a weekly feature that would speak to livelihood, message, and creativity, I came across Gina Fiedel’s article that drew those exact ideas together - and curated the hell out of some quality content too.
Her post, which ostensibly focuses on how to connect to your creativity even when trying to feed the content beast blossoms into a chorus that celebrates the blending of writing and marketing, creativity and productivity, and work and play.
Gina offers: “Here’s a secret I told myself. If I start with play and if I continue in that vein, what I end up with contains more overall creative style and elements than if I hadn't done that. I achieve both creative process and (hopefully) a creative product.”
This is the delightful pivot point. All this writing, all this curating, all this community building that our work depends on is enlivened by play.
Play is How We Make Friends and Build Connections
Play is the space we learn how to engage with others. Play is also the space we learn to engage with ourselves.
Play makes taking risks feel less threatening. Play is riddled with successes and failures. It’s suppose to be. Failing means learning.
Play is how we learn and grow; long into adulthood. Play is a doing activity, not a trying activity. We don’t try to play, we play.
When you're hooked on productivity, play seems like a chore. We work to build community (yep, I say above that I am "working to build my email list"). But really, do we win friends through work or play? Really, any newsletter list worth having is full of people you'd like to call friends.
Better to attract new friends to your hive with the sweetness of play rather than the sweat of work, right?
Recently I’ve been redefining play in my house to make for our collective imagination and really see one another. If knocking a few Disney Princesses off their thrones appeals to you, check out When You Wish Upon Someone Else’s Marketing Star.
Saundra Goldman of The Creative Mix is a self-professed “serious girl” (but I can attest she has a great laugh!). She is making 2015 the year of #ContinuousPractice. This #365project is intended to document her daily writing practice and to encourage others to show up to their creative endeavors each day.
Though not ostensibly about play, sharing evidence of your daily practice can build connections in much the same way that playing can… You show your authentic self and you dare to be vulnerable. You invite people close in a way that efforting never quite permits. Since you're not a photographer it's ok if every image isn't perfect.
It’s an honor to know that Saundra credits me with inspiring her photo-a-day project. My 365 Project as a Creative Process appeared on her blog recently. Just a few other creatives who have picked up the 365 habit include Brenna Layne (#rootsandwings), Ginny Lee Taylor (#livetrue), Deirdre Walsh (#justbreathe), and Lauren Ayer.
As Saundra asks, “What would it take to make today Day One?” If you need a little more encouragement or incentive to consider launching your own #365 project, here’s a post on how daily photos make you a better writer. If it feels overwhelming you may want to modify the yearlong project to suit your needs and resources.
But Is Everything Supposed to Be Integrated?
I’m a self-avowed #365project evangelist, but what are the downsides to all that photo snapping and sharing? Is it play or process? Is it obsessive brand building? Is it an exploitation of your own intimate moments?
In When a Picture Breeds A Thousand Questions Blair Glaser asks some probing questions about why we’re motivated to capture a sunset and then share it. Blair concludes “I write this post not as a judge, but as a witness: A witness to the changes that are happening in my business, in my brain, in my life, and in the way our culture is shaping these changes.”
She then introduces the Bored and Brilliant project from WNYC’s New Tech City podcast. It’s a collective experiment in putting down the phone and embracing the power of daydreaming. This is “challenge week” and they’re putting out daily podcasts encouraging you to change your phone behavior.
Tuesday’s challenge: don’t take a photo. Not only do I have a photo-a-day commitment, but it was my daughter’s first birthday, so I failed miserably (but cheerfully).
Listen to the episode (only 6 minutes) and make up your own mind about the “photo taking impairment effect” and whether it’s detracting from life as you’re living it. I won’t be quitting my #365SovereignReality practice, but I will be monitoring how I’m using the camera to witness the moment and decide if I'm shortchanging my senses and my memories.
Setting Your Own Sovereign Standard
This is the first step in a new adventure - finding the Sovereign Standard that serves each of us as individuals, but doing it collaboratively.
To get The Sovereign Standard delivered each week (and to let me know you'd like to be featured in future editions), sign up today.