In my bathroom, above my toilet, hangs 1960's artist, Corita Kent's 10 Rules Poster. Corita was a special one. She was born Francis Elizabeth Kent in Fort Dodge, Iowa (#fellowmidwesterner) a little over 100 years ago. At the age of 18, she entered what was known to be a progressive, and creatively-forward convent, The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart. She ultimately went on to get a master's at the University of Southern California and eventually take on the role of an art teacher, and head of the art department, at Immaculate Heart College in LA. It was here, in 1968, that she came up with her 10 rules some of which include being self-disciplined and not creating and analyzing at the same time (follow that advice and it will transform your creative process). But Rule #7 is printed bigger than the rest, and it reads: 

The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things. 

But remember, this was the 1960s. What did work mean then? What did "all of the time" mean 60 years ago? What was "the work" she was talking about? 


As an entrepreneur, there are six main categories of responsibilities within your role. They are, in order of priority:

  1. Staying inspired
  2. Creating the vision
  3. Nurturing company culture
  4. Navigating change 
  5. Developing your leaders
  6. Day-to-day responsibilities
We frequently have this list flipped. We consume our journey with day-to-day tasks instead of growing ourselves to a place where we can stay inspired enough to navigate the marathon of change that is entrepreneurship all while holding our vision clearly in our minds while creating the environment in which our teams can thrive. (It's exhausting to even write!)

There's a variety of reasons this can happen. Day-to-day responsibilities are often our comfort zone. They include the technical work we're usually good at whether that's building furniture or writing a press pitch. We often stay in the day-to-day to feel safe. When times are uncertain, when we're not quite making the income we desire, when we feel like we're not quite where we want to be, it can feel counterintuitive to pull ourselves out of the day-to-day and think big picture.

Day-to-day responsibilities can also feel like a sense of duty to us. A sense of duty can connect us to that puritanical work ethic that wound itself into our DNA over a century ago. We might not be consciously serving some higher power, but imposing on ourselves a sense of duty brings us a sense of meaning. 

Day-to-day responsibilities can also be intoxicating. They give us that good sugar-spike-high of adrenaline and feeling of self-importance. When we overidentify with our business, this is an easy mode to slip into. 

Long-term, big-picture investments take patience and our efforts often go unnoticed by our team or we have no team to feel accountable to. But that's the work of an entrepreneur. And as Corita said, those who do all of the work—staying inspired, creating the vision, nurturing company culture, navigating change, and developing leaders—all the time, eventually do catch on. 


Exactly 30 years after Corita made a rule about work, Gang Starr, the hip-hop duo of Guru and DJ Premier, made an anthem. Their 1998 classic, simply titled, Work, is a bit of a love song about what can happen when you stay focused on your work and transcend yourself. And that's the thing about entrepreneurship, you have to stay focused on your own work.

The urgency of the day-to-day often pulls us out of our real work. We keep ourselves busy, maybe even *productive* but not working. How would your business operate differently if you followed the list outlined above? What would the experience of your business feel like if you re-organized your priorities? What happens when you too put in work and watch your status escalate? I can't wait to find out. 


This May we're having a rescheduled meeting of Consumed by Aja Barber. We will meet on Tuesday, May 3 at 7pmEST via Zoom. This is a free event, please email me to register.


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