To Know Yourself – Know your Art

The Mona Lisa (or La Joconde, La Gioconda).
Image via Wikipedia

Seth Godin made the comment “Art is not in the eye of the beholder.  It’s in the soul of the artist.”  One thing I always see when talking with people about careers is their art.  It is the heart of their story, and if I don’t see it I make them talk until it oozes out of them.  It is there, it just needs to be named.  Here are a few artists I have met recently:

The construction project manager who takes over a project that is behind schedule and over budget.  The work –  many hours and many difficult decisions.  The Art – completed, on time and on budget. 

The entrepreneur who is fanatical about taking care of the customer and giving back to the community.  The work –  two jobs through the first two years of being in business.  The Art – twenty people, a just completed 100% growth year, and numerous awards recognizing the big heart of this small company.

The administrative assistant who sees the workplace as something to be organized.  The work – anything to make sure meetings go smoothly, things get fixed, emergencies get handled, and nobody ever sees her sweat.  The Art – an amazingly well run department where things just happen smoothly and finding things is easy and logical. 

The administrative assistant who realizes everyone needs a friend at work – and a occassional kick in the pants.  The work – always willing to listen and connect with people in the organization, even while getting her work done.  The Art – some call her mom, some call her friend, I call her the pulse taker and doctor – in any case she is a cultural definer.

Final point, the art takes work.  Funny thing, the artist does not see the work, just the art. 

Today, look around at the artists and make sure they know you see their art.  Challenge others to create some art.  What art are you creating and sharing today?

Silence – Creating it

Snowy day.
Image via Wikipedia

I have a weird tradition (at least according to my children) – I like to run in the middle of blizzards.  I have learned to love it because of the silence I experience.  Although I live in Michigan, sometimes it does not snow enough.

Most leaders I meet with display a real skill for driving action and results.  Through one of the assessments I use, the Birkman Method, some of those leaders realize they have internal needs for time to rejuvenate.  Silence helps them recover. 

Unfortunately, leaders don’t get rewarded for silence, only action and results.  The problem is without the former, focusing solely on the latter becomes a habit that can be destructive to ourselves and others.

Making a personal change requires focus and awareness, which requires some level of silence.  A mentor of mine, Doug Silsbee, teaches a technique that gives the body a moment of silence.  He calls it centering. Here is a link to his demonstration.  Our ability to adopt new ways of doing things or to deal with an unexpected event depends on our ability to center, to find silence.

If you don’t think you need it, at least allow others around you to create it. 

You do need it.  We all need it.