Incubation: Maybe You’ve Been Creating This Your Whole Life

When I announced that I was closing my marketing business, many people asked if I was going to devote myself full-time to my dance business, Smoothstyle. But I’ve always known that my calling is about writing and communication.

But for years I did dream of “bringing it all together”. I just couldn’t figure out how to do that in a satisfying way.  Sure, I could do marketing for dancers; I could write about dancing. Those were “obvious” ways to blend the two businesses, but none of it seemed appealing.

The expression, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” sounded so good. But for me, the path wasn’t clear.

During a sabbatical of reflection, I came to understand that Smoothstyle has been an incubator for “Maria 4.0”. Through it, I explore and develop skills, experiment with ideas, and express myself in ways that I was never able to do in my marketing practice. Through Smoothstyle, I’ve developed as a teacher and mentor, and I’ve discovered two things that I love to do almost more than anything else: creating space for people to develop, and guiding people to discover.

Turns out it was never about finding a way to combine writing and dance, or dance and marketing. It’s actually been about gathering a unique set of passions, skills, and experiences into a new venture. Phrase Strategy wraps up my core talents and passions into a business whose value, necessity, and potential I believe in.

Many people say things like, “I work to [fill in blank with favourite hobby].” I wonder if they’re incubating something, too.

What could you create?

Here’s an activity to try if you have a favourite hobby or a side-line “passion” business.

1. Cut up a bunch of pieces of paper, let’s say 25 pieces. On each paper, write down ONE thing that gets you excited about your side-line.

Go deeper than the “thing it is” and focus on the things it allows you to do. What satisfying experiences does it give you? What parts of yourself does it allow you to explore? For example, let’s say you are passionate about golf. Don’t focus on the game of golf; instead, identify the experiences it gives you that are fulfilling – like being outdoors, moving your body, doing repetitive things, networking, having quiet reflection, etc.

2. Next, write down the skills that you gain from your bread-winning job or business. Again, write thing one per paper.

3. Get a big bowl and make a salad out of your pieces of paper. Yes, really. Mix it up. Then let it sit for a day or two.

4. Return to your word salad, take out each piece of paper and place them all, writing-side-up, on a table in whatever order they come out of the bowl.

5. Look at the word salad. What do you see? What could you make with these ingredients? Move them around and look again.

Be bold, be ridiculous – it’s just paper!

Progressive Tense Cards (1)

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