The unapologetic, raw, unedited interpretation of living life. Each of us is the artist of our own life, constantly remolding, reworking, and roughing out the details and applying what we've learned to the changing canvas. There are no do-overs, no take backs...just rough cuts that release what lies inside us.

I saw the angel in stone and I carved until I set him free. - Michelangelo

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Artistic Leader Dissected

We used to do an activity during trainings in which we had to draw the ideal employee, representing the organization's values. Most of us ended up with similar drawings and cliches were used to the max: smile meant friendly, a heart meant caring, you can imagine the rest.  However simplistic, this activity did serve the purpose to visually create the most important aspects of the organization.  There is something particularly profound in "seeing" what we believe to be true.  It gives us a goal and ensures everyone agrees on the same end result.  There may be variations, but the essence is something recognizable and, more importantly, tangible for the audience.

Basic Form
Over the past weeks, I have attempted to create the essence of leading artistically.  I still feel as though the artist has not been fully described and you may still be picturing a mustached gentleman in a blousy shirt and beret, holding a paintbrush or perhaps a naturalist making sculpture out of recyclable plastics, eating granola.  Let's first decide to drop what we currently believe to be an "artist" and simply agree that being a human is about all artists share at this point.  Likewise, let's pretend that "leaders" don't all wear suits and carry leather brief cases.  What if for just this moment we pictured an artist to look like the person in your mirror and a leader to look like her twin. Would you be willing to consider either of these terms to describe what you see?

Beyond being Human
The artist has a body, a form within which he contains a spirit and a soul.  A spirit of desire to create what has not been created, feel what others have not felt, and passion for life beyond the now.  The soul is deep and ever changing, seeking connection to culture, space, time, and the spiritual.

The eyes of an artist visualize the filled canvas, the written manuscript, or the achieved goal before the feet have moved forward.  The artist is a visionary.  He sees what others cannot or are not willing to see. He understands the context of what he sees and determines how it will play into the accomplishments of his other parts.

The hands of the artist are the work that is to be done.  They are not afraid to be dirty from getting close to his work and doing what needs to be done.  Always in motion, the hands are the action, the doing, the making, the creation, the process.  The artist values this highly for without action, ideas and dreams are simply internal voids consuming his time.

The heart of the artist feels compassion and aches for the work to be done.  The fire burns hottest for the love of his craft.  From each spark of the flame, a new creation is born.

The feet of the artist keep him grounded. They remind him to be humble in his ways and sure when he steps. He is confident and walks forward at a steady pace.  The road to magnificence is long and treacherous, he must have the endurance to continue tirelessly, as there is much to be lost and much to gain.  His feet will keep him on course and face in a forward direction.

What would you add?  If you were to describe leadership in a visual way, what key "parts" would you include? why?

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