Are You An Artist?

fun growth relationships work Sep 24, 2019

Are you an artist? What would change about your work if you thought of yourself as one? A few things, I suspect.

For one, that word, “work,” would take on an entirely different meaning. Most of us live with a distinct boundary between work and, well, life. Not so for the artist. There’s nothing to balance. It’s all one harmonious flow. It’s all life. 

Of course, you’ll hear artists talk about their “work,” but they are talking about something different. The artist isn’t talking about some “obligation” they have to fill for 40+ hours a week to put food on the table. To the artist, “work” refers to the moments when the artist is engaged in deeply intentional expression.

Can you feel the difference?

What else would change if you were an artist? The reason for work would be different. Work would still be necessary, but for very different reasons. Most of us have to work because someone has to pay the bills around here. The artist must work because not working would be intolerable. Something deep inside would burn with increasing intensity until the artist could take the pain no more. Most of us work because society demands it. The artist works because the universe demands it.

 The measures of “success” would change too. Most of us measure success based on rewards and acknowledgement. The problem with this approach is it relies on external factors, which are often beyond our control. The artist has a different approach for measuring success. Rather than relying on outcomes, the artist is concerned more with quality of effort. Everything the artist does is a quest for authentic expression.

 When authentic expression is the reason for action, how does the artist measure success? To answer this question, I’ll pose another. How many paintings did Van Gogh sell during his lifetime?


 Let that sink in…

 The other 900 paintings were sold or made famous after his death. (1) Van Gogh spent a lifetime creating art that nobody cared about. An unquenchable thirst for self-expression is the only way this makes sense.

Most of us go through life asking, “Did it work? Did I win?” Of whom do we ask these questions? The people around us, of course. Our family. Our friends. Our boss. Society. These are the people who get to answer our most essential questions.

 The artist has only one question. “Did I hold back?” To whom does the artist pose this question? To the mirror that stands before them. Their work.

 When the artist can stare into that mirror and know they held nothing back, there’s only one thing left to do…

To sign it. To own it.

So, are you an artist?

In the video portion we’ll discuss some ways that we can “work” more like artists.


Housekeeping - I’m super-stoked to announce that my first book is about to release. Never Too Late: Get Unstuck, Escape Mediocrity, and Design a Life You Love will be available soon. If you’d like me to keep you in the loop on the release, just click this link. I truly appreciate any support you are willing to give!


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