Selling Mirrors Vs. Offering Reflections

“A flower is just a weed with a marketing budget.” Rory Sutherland, paraphrased, but certainly in “Alchemy” too

“However you frame yourself as an artist, the frame is too small.” Rick Rubin, via “The Creative Act

“I had to forget selling mirrors and focus on offering reflections.” Matt Zeigler, via “The Rick Rubin Of Advice: How To Have A Creative Second Act

Products are framed ideas. They’re flowers, aka weeds with marketing budgets. They look official and are labeled accordingly. 

The same is true with careers. Or political party affiliations. Or even sports teams. 

They’re all reflections of ourselves – in somebody else’s pre-defined frame. 

Conveniently sortable. 

Conveniently limiting, by the boarders of a provided frame. 

And conveniently inconvenient to anybody who wants to create outside or even just across the lines. 

Like Rubin says, “the frame is too small.” 

What a gift. 

You can make a career selling mirrors. You can make a life – and a good one, by selling weeds official flower labels (just ask the Chilean sea bass). You can put a frame around everything. 

But can you reflect

It took me a long time to be able to admit flowers and weeds really do have a lot in common. 

Everybody is creative, or at least they were once and can be again. If they choose to be. And it’s always a choice. 

We can make ourselves plenty busy selling mirrors. Or, we can do ourselves and the others a favor and start figuring out how to offer reflections. With less talking and more listening. 

All it takes is curiosity. 

And creativity. 

Stop selling mirrors, start offering reflections.

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