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<title>Valuable to others, or only you? </title>
<p>
When I'm hot, it's hard for me to imagine that others in the room are cold. I think it really is hot, not that it's hot only for me. It feels like fact, not opinion.
</p><p>
When I do something that's really valuable to me, it's hard for me to imagine that it's not valuable to others. I think it really is valuable, not that it's valuable only for me. It feels like fact, not opinion.
</p><p>
This is common and understandable. Our personal perception feels real. It's hard to see things from another person's point of view.
</p><p>
<strong>This is also the core of the “starving artist” problem.</strong>
</p><p>
When someone creates something that is really important, powerful, and valuable to them, it's hard to imagine that it's not important, powerful, and valuable to others.
</p><p>
But <strong>money only comes from doing something valuable to others.</strong>
</p><p>
The starving artist pours his heart into personal expression that's incredibly valuable to him, but not (yet) valuable to others. That's why no money comes.
</p><p>
The good news is <strong>there are two ways out of the starving artist problem</strong>, and either one can be fun.
</p><h3>
1. Focus on making your art more valuable to others.
</h3><p>
Art doesn't end at the edge of the canvas. Keep going. Constantly think of the audience point of view. Constantly ask, “How can I be more valuable to them?” You may come up with ideas like:
</p><ul><li>
Convert what you do from a public display to a personal service. Every work is customized for hire.
</li><li>
Spread a fascinating version of your history, so they can get interested in the person first, and art second.
</li><li>
Be more entertaining, so that people don't need sophisticated tastes to appreciate your art. (Watch the scene in <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086879/">Amadeus</a> where Mozart honestly loves his friend's low-brow opera.)
</li><li>
Use scarcity. Make your shows invitation-only.
</li><li>
Engage more senses. If you're a visual artist, incorporate audio so even the blind would love it. If you're a musician, make a live performance so visually interesting that even the deaf would love it. Can you even incorporate smell, touch, or taste?
</li><li>
Push to new shocking extremes to give people something to discuss afterwards.
</li><li>
Go where money is already flowing. Adapt what you do to match the needs of businesses, holiday resorts, hospitals, universities, etc.
</li></ul><p>
Then <strong>force yourself to try all the best ideas, even if it seems unnatural at first</strong>. <a href="http://sivers.org/book">Read books about business and psychology</a> to get more ideas, since many brilliant minds are asking the same question from a different perspective.
</p><p>
Keep doing this repeatedly, paying attention to feedback from others, and you will become more valuable.
</p><p>
Though if you find in the long run this makes you more miserable than excited, try the other way:
</p><h3>
2. Stop expecting it to be valuable to others. Accept it as personal and precious to only you. Get your money elsewhere.
</h3><p>
Sex with my wife is very valuable to me and her, but luckily I'm not trying to make it valuable to others.
</p><p>
If you stop expecting your art to be valuable to anyone but you, your conflicted mind can finally be at peace. <strong>Do it only because you love it</strong>, and it honestly doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
</p><p>
You might even keep it private like a diary, just to be clear who it's really for.
</p><p>
You'll probably be happier with your art because of this change in mindset. Ironically, others may appreciate it more, too, though you honestly won't care.
<img src="http://sivers.org/images/icon_smile.gif" width="15" height="15" alt="smile" />
</p>
<img src="http://sivers.org/images/busker.jpg" width="500" height="334" alt="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tochis/3297481840/" />