Painting as a Lesson in Leadership
As a writer and communications executive who loves to merge words with images I've struggled with embracing my inner artist. It's been a hidden passion - but there was never enough "time" and the skills seemed inconsistent with the highly-valued analytical and management abilities needed to progress along an executive track. However, the more I paint and immerse myself in the creative process - the more I realize how much the art of effective leadership and teambuilding have in common with authentic creativity: 1) Leaders and artists alike must start with a vision without getting invested in the micro-details of the journey - they matter - but if you start with the minutia you lose site of the big picture; 2) Be fearless. When something's not working sometimes starting over with a clean canvas is the best path forward. It can free your mind and even clear obstacles, getting you to your destination faster; 3) Simple shading and nuance may highlight a whole new new you previously overlooked; 4) Adapt, experiment, be agile,
but never lose site of your "why". In the same way your subject inspires you to paint, as a leader, team or organization let your authentic purpose drive you - it won't let you down if you trust it; 5) Be assured, five people will look at the same thing differently and no one will be wrong. Now more than ever, we need to embrace points of view in how we communicate with each other -- more bridges drives productivity; 6) Perspectives change when you really take the time to "see" something rather than just look. Seeing a multidimensional experience - it involves more than your eyes - when it's happening you'll know it; 7) Be willing to adapt and let go of ego if it improves the outcome. Sometimes masterpieces are buried deeply under the surface waiting to be uncovered, if you are persistent. That new team member who sits quietly hiding a brilliant mind but uncomfortable in large and loud brainstorms - the canvas with three layers of paint hiding the perfect combination of colors in one corner if you peel it away just so.... And finally, while painting is a singular pursuit, it is inspired and shaped by many sources - artists and ideas who came before you, contemporaries and everything around you. Great artists and leaders are constantly "seeing" always learning and are driven by the need to express themselves, the pursuit of art and the feeling of the creating and achieving their vision.