"Artists are people with a genius for finding a new answer, a new connection, or a new way of getting things done." Seth Godin, Linchpins. (My favorite Godin book!) Using Godin’s definition of an artist, I know you’re one. Maybe not 24/7, but sometimes. Like when you train employees on a skill and you feel they connected with each other at a deeper level. Or when the boss is excited about your proposal. Or someone unexpectedly thanks you for something you did.
In this crazy new normal economy, the really good news is that those of you who don’t fit in the professional cubby holes, those who have been more tolerated than celebrated at work, you’re the ones best suited for thriving. (You’re less attached to the way things used to be.)
Here are 5 things you can do to BE the Artist at your office:
1. Revisit and review your vision, your intention or what you’re really about.
What is your gift? Have you thought about it lately? It doesn’t have to be ending world hunger. Actually by taking care of yourself and your family, you’re already part of the solution to world hunger. What is it that you love to do, that people thank you for?
If you have a desk job that not’s your absolute passion, maybe your gift is always trying your best. Maybe everyone who talks to you feels better for having done so.
Your vision for yourself may or may not have anything to do with your professional training. You might be surprised at the career paths taken by people who study painting and work in software, corporate trainers who become professional chefs, linguistics experts who work in health care. Life is more fun that way.
Write it down. No one’s going to correct your grammar and your vision or mission can be as simple as being an extreme encourager, or someone who connects the dots, someone who’s always got a different perspective on things.
Just write a paragraph or a list entitled "This is what I’m about."
2. Omit complaining and criticism from your vocabulary.
If there’s a legitimate problem, develop some possible solutions and take them to the appropriate person. Complaining to Derek about how incompetent Sally never solves anything.
Criticism and complaining only drain your precious energy and make you look bad.
3. Schedule time each week to be an artist at your office.
Sometimes I call this time to do nothing (or take a walk in the middle of things), but I think it sounds much better to call it "artist time." Creative solutions need space in which to emerge. They do not come to people who are 100% crisis driven or adrenaline addicted.
Time off, even if it’s in your office with the door shut, is time to think about the "what if’s" in your work and in your life.
Write them down.
What if you worked one day a week from home?
What if you started writing a blog about what you do?
What if you opened an account on Etsy?
What if you actually wrote down the composition that you hear in your head every day?
What if you wrote an essay and sent a copy to all your friends and your favorite clients?
What if you hired a cleaning lady only once a month?
What if you hired a personal coach?
What if you started introducing yourself to people who work in other departments?
4. Write yourself a permission-to-be-imperfect slip.
Art is by definition, imperfect. Only factory-made goods may possibly be perfect.
Perfectionism paralyzes. Give permission to people not to get you. Don’t worry about inflating your job description to sound more impressive. You have more important things to do with your life.
5. Lighten up and have some fun with being an artist.
What does "having fun" look like to you? Do you even know?
Some fun ideas from me and my clients include:
Eating tapas for dinner. Or bringing tapas to work to eat at lunch.
Reading a romantic novel (bought used) at a coffee shop.
Hip hop….of course.
A road trip.
Playing with an art kit. Crafting alone or with friends.
Whatever is fun to takes some time and energy. It’s a way to refill your well of creativity.
How do you work as an artist? What keeps you sane?