The ‘Book That Inspired Me’ Series is a platform for our Smarter Egg Wall of Famers to share their personal insights on how a particular book has moved them. Here we have Lucy Hyland of Food For Living.
Looking back over the last few years, there is one book that stands out in terms of its effect my personal and business life. That book is “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron. Reading this book and attending its study group, shifted my perspective on my own creative journey and my business life. My intention when reading this book was not to change how I ran my business, but that is the effect it had.
‘The Artists Way’ was written by Julia Cameron, a recovering alcoholic, and provides a 12-step programme to help readers through a process of “creative recovery.” The basic idea is that the book is read over 12 weeks like a course and readers are given daily and weekly assignments — morning pages, artist dates, and exercises — to help them to develop creative habits. I decided to read this book with a study group, and every Sunday evening we would read together and discuss the previous week’s topics or exercises.
I can’t recall why or how I discovered the book, or the study group, but like many aspects of life, I stumbled across it at the right moment. I had started my business a few years prior to this and was feeling a little ‘lost’ in its development. I had spent those few years reading endless books on business, business development and business models. With a background in social policy and planning, and recently qualified as a chef and nutritional therapist, I spent all my time trying to get my head around this new world of business.
Reading this book impacted me in two main ways, perhaps broken down into the personal impact and the business impact, but really these two are largely intermingled.
From a personal perspective, I reconnected with that creative child that had long been forgotten. The book challenges you to consider the beliefs you gathered in childhood about creative and artistic people. Through the processes described in the book, I was able to break these beliefs down and give my creativity a new kick-start. I started singing, dancing, doing art on a regular basis and writing more. I am now studying art and art therapy on a part time basis.
With regard to my business, these creative processes also made me look at the business from a new perspective. I had spent the first few years trying to fit into this new business world. I read books on systemising, managing and developing a business but could not connect with any of them. I realised that in an attempt to build a business, I had lost touch with what I wanted and why I had gone into business in the first place. I made many mistakes in those first few years, with the perception that getting as many bums on seats would be the answer to feeling success within my business.
What I learnt was that my skills were around connecting with people and caring about their welfare, even when they lost sight of this. I realised that I was driven to make situations better for people and help them feel ok about where they were, but that the responsibility for this lay with the person; I am just a facilitator in that process. I learnt that health and food are massive topics, highly emotional and driven by habits and behaviours and big business/industries. I now work more with the creative process, using art and other methods to get to the core of what drives a person to look after themselves and how to put themselves first in terms of their own health and wellbeing.
For me, it was a book that was not about business that had the biggest impact on the direction of my business. I shuddered at the books I read that talked about great achievements, grand scales and lofty ideas because they made me think that I needed to achieve these to be successful. What I have learnt though the creative process is that my business is about doing meaningful work with people. When I am doing this, it allows me to connect with people, to interact with them and to assist them on their journey to self-care.
Here’s Lucy appearing on The White Horse stage in January 2013 participating in a discussion on the importance of habits.