Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bring Your Artist to Work

palette-paint-colours-mdEvery child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. -Pablo Picasso


The problem many people have with their work-life is that it’s serving more as a marker of time between weekends, holidays, vacations and milestones like a new car, home or college tuition than as a place of productivity and enrichment. As a result some are not bringing their best selves to the endeavor.


Careers and industries have been built around the focus of solving this problem. Sadly, many of the solutions are often short-lived if adopted at all. So here’s an alternative you may want to consider. Bring your artist to work.

Many businesses are built on facts and figures, empirical data and market research. Important decisions are based on favorable ratios and return on investments. These are crucial and it’s shocking how many organizations large and small do not employe them. However, they are only part of the equation. They represent the head. What your organization needs is more heart and that’s what you need to use everyday.

When you bring your artist to work, you are bringing the best of your talents and abilities. You are focused on your strengths and using them to accomplish the task at hand. There’s not a right or wrong approach there is only an inspired approach. If you want to get joy from your work you need to bring joy to your work.

Successful enterprises do not shy away from people with stimulating thoughts that provoke emotions in others. Passion for what you do can lead to mastery. That’s not to say that what you’re currently doing is great and that with ten more years you’ll be a master. You could be screwing up royally and no one is telling you. As a result in ten years you’ll think you’re a master but you’re likely to become obstinate, or worse obsolete. So don’t fool yourself with complacency.

You already know what you’re good at and finding a place that gives you the ability to do it is probably what drew you to your job in the first place. Maybe things have changed and now there’s new things you’re expected to do that you’re not very good at. Pay attention to your current state. Energy drains and energy uplifts are immediate clues to your satisfaction.

If bringing out your artist sounds like too much work for you; you’re probably right. Keep on slogging away at what you’re doing. Count your blessings that you’re still employed in this economy and that no one has noticed you yet. Save your money and sock a lot away for your retirement because you’re gonna need it - probably sooner than you think.

On the other hand, if you’re nodding your head in agreement because you’re already doing something you love right now or this sounds remotely interesting to you because you remember how you once did, congratulations, you have many achievements ahead of you.

When you bring your artist to work you challenge the current thinking. You don’t go searching for problems, but you do offer solutions, lots of them. Artists are creative. Creativity scares too many people. It needn’t. Creativity is what moves people, institutions and nations forward. Forward movement is never a bad thing though it’s not always painless.

Our best thinking, innovation and ideas are in front of us, not behind us. Sure, we can refer to the past to act as prologue, but today we have additional knowledge and hindsight we didn’t have yesterday. This is as true on the world stage as it is in your daily life. You have prior knowledge, you have opinions, you know what works and what doesn’t. You have intellectual curiosity. You like to tinker, question, invent and innovate. Bringing that to your work is bringing the artist to work. If you can’t do that because your work environment won’t allow it, challenge the work environment to change. If it can’t, prepare to leave it for a better environment. It’s okay, with it’s ridged thinking that organization is not likely to last much longer. Sooner or later you’ll need something new anyway.

Every inspirational writer since the dawn of man has said we are living in the best of times and they’ve all been right. We keep getting better. At this juncture we have tremendous challenges. The world is the smallest it’s ever been and it’s causing people to become more factious than we’ve ever been. There are epic struggles between change and preservation. The extremes of both sides lack the imagination and tools to explore the possibilities of each. It’s the artist who sees multiple perspectives and brings people together. Successful leaders know this. So if your working with widgets, or children, spreadsheets or coffee beans, miracle drugs or motor vehicles, now is not the time to do it the same way.

How will you bring your artist to work?