I’m generally more successful coaching younger artists in selling their art than middle age artists.
This doesn’t mean that I haven’t succeeded in helping middle age artists or that a middle age artist can’t be successful. In fact, I made the leap into a full time art enterprise at age 39.
But it was just nagging me why artists who already know that the art establishment is broken and that it is not working for them, still resist change and don’t just embrace the entrepreneurial approach to selling their art that is Artists Who THRIVE.
Chris’s story about the five monkeys struck me as the explanation that I was searching for.
This story is straight out of the book. It goes like this.
Five monkeys are thrown in a cage by a sadistic monkey-hater.
Enough food and water is available at the bottom of the cage, saving them from starvation while forcing them to lead a boring life of staring through the glass every day. The food at the bottom is bad, but sufficient.
At the top of the cage, however, a large stalk of bananas alluringly waits.
Conveniently, a ladder to the top has been provided by the sadist.
After getting over the shock of being caged, one of the monkeys scales the ladder and reaches for a banana.
All of a sudden a fire hose appears from nowhere.
The monkey at the top of the ladder is soaked with cold water, but not only him- all of the other monkeys are soaked as well, in an exercise of group punishment for the sins of one freedom-loving monkey.
Over the next few days the experience repeats itself several times.
One monkey makes a run for the bananas, the whole troop of monkeys gets soaked, and pretty soon the group starts beating up any monkey brave enough to scale the ladder.
The bananas are still at the top, but just out of reach. The monkeys reluctantly accept the fate of living a life without bananas.
Then one day the experiment changes.
The sadist takes one monkey out of the cage and replaces him with another one.
Not knowing the consequence of being doused with cold water, the new monkey immediately begins to scale the ladder in pursuit of a banana, the rest of the monkeys pull her down before she reaches the top, and the troop settles in again.
The next day another monkey is replaced, and then another, and the process repeats itself: the new monkey lunges for the bananas, gets pull down, and adapts.
After five days, no monkey from the original troop remains, and no monkey has ever been soaked with cold water- but every monkey knows they are not supposed to climb the ladder.
One of the monkeys finally asks, “Hey, why can’t we eat the bananas?”
The others shrug their shoulders and say, “We’re not sure-we just know we can’t.” (pp.16-17)
Change requires energy, focus, and support. What is your SMARTER goal? Who are the monkeys around you? Are they supporting you? Or are they beating you up?
Ask yourself, “Am I holding back in selling my art because I secretly need permission or approval?”
Now please share this post with a supportive monkey.