Seth Godin wrote a wonderfully succinct article today on why you need to look past the numbers when you evaluate your success.

A few days ago, the hosts of a Itty Biz explained why you shouldn’t worry about people unsubscribing from your blog. (Short story: Your message is never going to appeal to everybody, but it will always appeal to somebody.

Years ago, I did the nation’s largest wholesale craft show. When the economy tanked, so did my sales. (Actually, things tanked for everybody. Not just me. Not just other craftspeople. I need to remember it’s not always about me…..bigtime.)

At one particular show, I was counting up the things that had gone well: I picked up a prestigious gallery a customer introduced me to. A well-respected craft publishing company tapped me to do freelance work for them. And so on. A veteran exhibitor sneered, “Yeah, but how much MONEY did you make? That’s what counts! Quit putting a fluffy happy face on it.” Deflated, I confessed to the show manager that I must be a flop. She said, “Is money the only measure of your success?”

Hmmmmm….. Good question.

Money is important. Sales are important. Customers are important.

Paying your mortgage, putting food on the table, being able to care for those who depend on your are important. Not being in debt is important.

But they aren’t important because “I have more than you” or because “You’re not as famous as I am” or “He’s more important because his bank balance is bigger.”

We all have a place in the world.

The best work of our heart has a place in the world.

Sometimes, the smallest gesture of human kindness can change the world.

True courage is pursuing your dreams, doing the work, getting the work of your creative spirit, out into the world.

True faith is believing it is worthwhile, even if you cannot see where the ripples go or how far they travel.

Numbers are good. But only when you understand they are only an imperfect measure of something much, much deeper, bigger, more mysterious and profound:

The impact of our words, our actions, our art, on the world.

The framed work continues to grow in popularity.  (And I love making them!)
The framed work continues to grow in popularity. (And I love making them!)

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

6 thoughts on “THE NUMBERS GAME”

  1. As a designer/craft-artist/artisan/maker-of-things, I have lived the truth of Luann’s words.

    If I were to show you a portfolio of my work, do some name dropping of my clients/customers, or invite you into my studio/workshop, you would certainly see me as a Successful Artist. If I were to instead show you my tax returns and/or bank statements (especially for the past seven years) “successful” is not the first word that would pop into your mind.

    The longer that I go on doing my work (or maybe it is just the accumulation of years) the more I believe that a person makes his or her own reality. Not in some mystical/spiritual sense, but simply in the way you present yourself.

    In the depths of this past(?) economic recession (depression?), I felt so discouraged, I was ready to give up. I actually sent out resumes (that is an interesting pieces of writing… job history?), and even interviewed for a few jobs. I started to look at the record of my accomplishments as being in my “past”. I certainly did not feel successful, by any measurement.

    And then I started to take notice of something rather profound. Nobody else saw me the way I felt. Except for my closest friends and family – who knew my struggles – everybody saw me as “successful” still. Maybe even more so, simply because I was still around. I hadn’t closed shop and moved on to something else… so I must be doing it right.

    I think most people want to believe in the idea that there are Artists among us, people who live by different rules. We give people Hope, just by existing as artists/artisans.


    1. Hi Garry! I just read through your interesting reply and then I had a look at your blog. Don’t ever stop what you’re doing! It’s wonderful to see furniture like yours and it gives me hope that the furniture world will not be entirely ruled by Ikea!


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