I hope your answer is – ME! I don’t mean me…the coach, the artist, the advisor…I mean YOU! You probably aren’t comfortable advocating for yourself. Few of us are, but the truth is, you MUST be your own advocate, whether you’re a creative, a corporate person, a small business owner or a solo-preneur. No matter who you are, you owe it to yourself to be your own best advocate. It’s not a bloated ego thing. It’s a smart thing (click to Tweet).
The saying is a Roman proverb, sometimes contributed to Confucious.
Recently, I felt like I was chasing more than two rabbits. The furry moppets refused to hang together and…well…I’m not as fast as I used to be. The constant changing of direction and gears seems to put a damper on my speed and hinder a razor-sharp focus.
So, sometimes it’s best to cut bait and walk away.
But, how do we make the decisions about which rabbits to chase and when to cut them loose? I guess it’s dependent upon our objectives and priorities. AND, do we even give consideration to such things? When it comes to priorities, do you spend time examining them, or just let the tail wag the rabbit-chasing dog? (click to Tweet)
When considering which rabbit to chase, I say if you’re supporting a family and need the income, that might be your first priority – the money – so you chase the biggest, fattest rabbit you can find. Continue reading “Two Rabbits”
“There’s a tightening that comes with the proficiency we achieve in whatever it is we do.” (click to Tweet)
We’re a lot like children, still…and I think it’s precious. Have you ever noticed how when you’re attracted to something new, if it’s something you adore, you attack it with zeal? There’s a pure joy in the simple act of “doing it.” It’s fresh and you’re simply in the moment, savoring your passion. Art is like that. So is golf or dance or writing. I’m sure you can fill in the blank regarding a passion you’ve had and you will see, in its infancy it’s free and fresh and fun.
Eventually, the vile voice of the critic creeps in the crack of the door, when you aren’t looking. Suddenly, like Adam and Eve, you realize you are naked and ashamed. You’ve eaten from the tree of knowledge. Now, you know, it isn’t good enough, you didn’t do it like last time and the bitter taste of expectation begins to taint your joyful journey. Yep, you’ve lost your innocence. And. It. Happens.
When I taught adult learning theory to trainers, I used to teach the Dreyfus Model of Skills Acquisition. It looks like this:
So, there is a path, a process that only time and experience can account for. As we continue to be active in our passion, our perception of the value of our work changes. This is how it’s supposed to be. Though, I’ve noticed, with art, it can change my relationship to not only the work itself, but my daily working of it as well. The judgment gets in the way. The expectation raises the bar. The joy of it can be zapped if I don’t manage myself around the process.
That being said, it’s in direct opposition of the idea of art itself. Art is expressive, and fresh, compelling and different. Art provokes emotion and thought. Art tells stories. Sometimes, as novices, we strive to make art like everyone else, for approval, so we know we are “in the lines” but as artists, we’re supposed to create new lines, tell our own stories. It’s a paradox.
Perhaps we can leverage the Dreyfus model, not only to help us understand ourselves, but also teach, mentor and support others. When you shine a light on what’s coming, it’s not nearly so scary and it makes us feel warm and fuzzy to be validated. Remember the sisterhood of childbirth? The brotherhood of sportsmanship? This is precisely why community is so important for artists.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I read this in “Art and Fear – Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” by David Bayles and Ted Orland :
“On both intellectual and technical grounds it’s wise to remain on good terms with our artistic heritage, lest you devote several incarnations to re-inventing the wheel. But once having allowed for that, the far greater danger is not that the artist will fail to learn something from the past, but fail to teach anything new to the future.”
So, dear souls, there you have it. Embrace the joy, feed your curious novice well as the proficient expert grows. Do the brave thing, not the safe thing. Just do art.
Be Brave, Be Naked,
Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter
For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” said Theodore Roosevelt. He was wise in so many ways. Life Hacker explores it further here.
My intellect is convinced comparison is the perfect way to verify my progress, validate my work and move forward. What kind of drooling, slack-jawed logic is that? (Click to Tweet)
For instance, if I were producing cutting edge work, creating never before seen, mind-blowing and history-making art, who would validate that? My hubs would, for sure…but probably no one else. Being the weak-minded, approval seeking artist I am, I’d probably stop what I was doing, hang my head in shame, strike a match and burn the canvasses.
I know better. Picasso painted shit sometimes. For me, it’s time to regroup, re-set the compass and follow one of my guiding principles… again…
Yeah, I do realize the irony here. Ahem…moving right along…
- I will not utter the word or entertain the thought I should paint soley to please others.
- I will not utter the word or entertain the thought I should paint solely to make money (though, I still welcome monetary appreciation).
- I will not utter the word or entertain the thought I SHOULD be doing more, or differently, or like “X.” Art is an
expression of who we are. If you told me to write differently, I’d tell you to stick it right up your own “shoulder.” (um, that’s should-er…not shoulder. Everyone’s a critic).
The creative process is a freeing, often joyful, venting of the soul. How can creativity truly take flight when you’re desperately trying to follow rules set by society, groups and the muckity-mucks? They all have different opinions. The very nature of striving to please others completely interferes with the process. When we compare ourselves to others, or even compare our previous work to our current work, it can cause issues. If worrying about the measurements doesn’t impact our work, it is apt to affect commitments we’ve made to ourselves. That being said, we do need to employ methods to move forward and grow. But, not at the expense of our art itself.
A friend, Micah Crandall-Bear, whose work I simply adore, recently posted this quote:
Thank you for sharing the quote, Micah. It gave me the permission I needed. Someday I should be lucky to paint
just. like. you.
Crud! I guess everyone’s entitled to a slip now and then.
Keep it Clean!
Special thanks to Micah Crandall-Bear for his generosity and sharing an image of his incredible work and Andy Warhol’s quote. He can be found at www.micahcrandallbear.com
Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives.
For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!
(This is a repost from July of 2013. The information is still relevant today…feel free to comment or share the post with others who may benefit. ~m)
I work alone. Mostly, I write alone. I paint alone, and that’s the way I like it. Sometimes I’m coaching others, and I really love it. However, most of my day is spent in my own company…and I’m an extrovert. I think. I was.
I have conversations with my “Studio Dogs.”(click to Tweet). We listen to music in the studio and I sometimes dance with them. Maybe I talk to them too much. They don’t complain.
Life can get lonely for those of us who spend our days with ourselves. Nothing to break the monotony. This doesn’t mean we aren’t positively content. What it does mean is we can miss out on joyful exchanges outside ourselves. We can get stuck in our creative heads and are perfectly fine, happy, joyful there. Too much of that can’t be a good thing, me thinks. I have no proof, but just feel it in my bones.
I suggest the following to break up the day, get out of the studio, office or wherever you’re working solo. It’ll keep you healthily involved in the big world out there.
Find or Create a Tribe – A group of like-minded people (and some not so like you) to share ideas, experiences laughs with. Brainstorm with them and support one another. When I worked as an OD consultant a group of us would meet once a month for a little snack and coffee and share thoughts on a concept or idea. We built friendships and had some fun. Currently, I have a blog writing partner I meet every Wednesday morning. We keep each other honest. Artists, writers and creatives benefit from these types of groups and partnerships.
Work in a Public Space – I don’t mean napping in the park here. Write in a coffee shop. Paint plein air. Photograph the world. Get out and mingle. Your life will be richer (click to Tweet).
Check out Meet Ups – I went to a great one last night. It was for speakers. We practiced our skills and shared some key business building points. Fantastic and powerful stuff! You might have to try a few before you find your perfect fit. They come small, big, loud, quiet…check them out at www.meetup.com
Take a Retreat – If something sparks your passion, spend some time away from your business and recharge at a retreat that embraces that topic. Much more than relaxing is involved. Your network will grow, your skills will get honed, you’ll create memories and recharge. Tip – don’t choose a silent or solitary retreat. (Duh)
Be Present – Wherever you go…BE.THERE. (click to Tweet) Go to the Grocery Store. Be present there. Post Office? Be present there. As you run your daily errands get to know people’s names, spark up light conversation. Noticing the world around you is a great way to gain creative inspiration. Not only that, being present outside your head is a healthy hiatus.
Create Meaningful Routine and Ritual – Schedule time each day to get out of the studio or office. One of the benefits to being self-employed is the flexibility it allows. Take advantage of this and make it a routine. Schedule yoga or the gym regularly. Every Thursday spend the afternoon with a friend at the museum or galleries, for example. Sometimes, if you’re in the middle of a project, it’s hard to pull yourself away, but the break keeps us fueled. Be disciplined and do it!
What do you do? How do you fill your solo cup? You have a Tribe here (see, you can join it on the sidebar). I’d love you to share your ideas of how you build balance into your days. I invite you to start the conversation by leaving a comment below.
Stay Full and Proceed to Party!
Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives.Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter
For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!
You have it. That “stuff” you leave in your wake, the constant reminder there is unfinished business, loose ends, a mess, you’re not perfect.
Well, guess what? You’re not perfect. I like you that way. I like me that way, too. We are proof of the human condition (click to Tweet).
That clutter, though…it blocks the creative spirit. It clogs the flow of new ideas, prosperity, harmony. Clutter sucks. It comes in various forms. There’s the physical clutter…on your desk, your dresser, the kitchen counter. It’s unsightly and makes you feel….ick. Too much makes it hard to breathe.
Clutter also comes in the emotional form. The figurative toilet paper you drag around on your shoe. Worries you have about what you can’t control. An off handed, insensitive comment someone made. Comparison to other people, their work, their accomplishments, their opportunities, their opinions, their stuff. Their CLUTTER! Clutter envy…gawd! (Click to Tweet)
Gutter clutter. That’s right! In. Your. Gut. From the movie popcorn, late night ice cream, stress cheeseburgers. You know you do it…occasionally. You clutter your God given temple with junk…to make yourself feel better. To relieve the emotional clutter. And it stays. Fatty deposits on your thighs, hips, belly. You pollute your body the same way you do your office, your studio, your mind.
There are so many types of clutter. Concept clutter. Financial clutter (better known as debt). Obligatory clutter (say “no” much?). Clutter occurs when we fail to take care of OUR business as we should. We do not make it a priority to keep our lives, bodies, environment clean. Guilt is clutter…so, please, don’t feel guilty about this. You’ll just add to the clutter. And as cluttered as we are, we certainly don’t want to be, ahem, HORDERS!
The clutter is okay. We are human. We clutter, but we also organize. Ewwww, that’s a bad “O” word, isn’t it? But, for the pain organization causes, albeit temporarily, organizing also creates a freedom. A clarity. A knowing – especially a knowing of where we put stuff!
So, how to manage?
First, make sure you have the tools to do the job. It depends upon what you aim to declutter. You may need file folders. A therapist. A nutrionist. A coach (I am one). A personal trainer. A dumpster. So, decide what you’re cleaning up and get the right tools. Create a system. Identify a “Home” for your stuff, a home where you’ll be able to find it upon demand. Create a system you LIKE. This is important. If the system is too complex or laborious, you’ll avoid using it. Got it? Good!!!
Ready to get to work? If you’re a heavy clutterer, try one step at a time. It’s kind of like a 12-Step program for clutterers. If it’s easier for you, 15 minutes a day of decluttering. Start with the most obvious clutter. Seeing progress will be encouraging and you’ll gain momentum. If you’re bringing in reinforcements, like a professional organizer, a therapist, or a nutritionist, they can help you work this through.
If you’re the warrior type, you may choose to simply plow through the clutter. I tend to execute this way. Just take your medicine. It’s a bitter pill, but it CURES! (Click to Tweet). I find plowing easiest because the process is fast. I don’t linger over each “object” and its fate because I build some momentum, which drives the process. Put on some rockin’ tunes, put your head down, GO!
If you’d like a specific model for executing each piece of clutter, please click here. You’ll get a lovely, simple document that helps you keep it simple – just for joining the “Tribe.” As you touch each piece of clutter, you’ll have an automatic, pre-ordained answer.
As a general rule, if you haven’t used something for over a year, it’s junk. UNLESS IT’S TAX RELATED. Keep business documents in a banker box…you know…just in case. Label it with the year. Also, clutter that is not emotionally charged is easier to deal with. Address that stuff first. If you’re dealing with emotionally charged or “memory” clutter, the plow method works to build some rhythm. That way you won’t agonize over each object – at least not as much as you could.
Clean house! It feels good. It creates a path for new possibilities, mental clarity, abundance. It leaves you light and free. It creates a harmonious space for your to relax, enjoy life, employ audacious creativity.
Afterwards – Now, you have a system, please use it EVERYDAY to maintain your clutter free life. You may slip from time to time, and that’s okay. You’re human. But take care of your business – you deserve this! Embrace the urge to purge!!!
Keep it Tidy!
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I could move mountains if it weren’t for “distractions.” (Click to Tweet) I mean, really, the shiny things get in the way, catch my eye and I’m gone.
It’s become more challenging since I’ve become a corporate refugee, because now I’m doing creative work and am accountable to only myself. We are all creative beings, no doubt, but once you give yourself permission to be fully creative, you lose some of the ability to focus on getting stuff done. I think this is partially due to the fact that creativity is fostered by exploration and play. (Click to Tweet) The three go hand in hand in hand.
I’m sure the “shiny thing” gets you, too. And it snowballs. One distraction can lead to another and soon the sun is setting and you haven’t done anything even remotely productive. Urghh!
What to do?
It’s all about – ahem – time management. And self discipline. Ick. Doesn’t that sentence just make your hair stand on end? Feeling resistance yet? Think of it this way:
Time is your asset. It’s the key to the kingdom. (Click to Tweet)
You aren’t going to get more of it, so have the self-discipline to jealously guard the 24 hours you’ve got. Identify what gets in your way – and take steps to secure it. Here are some easy strategies:
Your “To Do List” is your GPS – Creating a “To Do” list may sound cliché, but it keeps you on course, guides you and tells you cheerfully, “You have arrived!” Use a list!
Control TV, Email and Social Media – Set designated times to check and respond to email and social media. For most of us, three times a day will work. Morning, noon, afternoon. Having your mobile device firmly tucked into your hip pocket and responding to its every chime? That chime – that’s the sound of your time being sucked into a big hole!
Schedule your Day – Schedule your day…but not ALL of it. Scheduling 60% of your day is realistic, because it allows room for life to happen and keeps you from turning into a shrew. Schedule the stuff you must do, and the stuff you want to do. Workout time – schedule it! Creative prep – schedule it! Even schedule recreational time. Remember to schedule some time at the end of the day to prepare for the following day. You can create some balance in your life and still move the mountain if you schedule it!
Create systems – Take time to organize in a way YOU can understand. If you can’t find it, you spend time looking for it, so take time to put it in its place in the first place. Besides, just admit it, if you’re looking though stuff to find other stuff you get DISTRACTED with the new stuff you find. (yeah, I wrote that all by myself).
Get a Handle on Procrastination – We all do it. If you really want to, you can get a handle on it. It’s not rocket science…if it were I would procrastinate for sure. Find the root of the procrastination and ferret out the resources, gumption or whatever you need to move through it…one step at a time.
Make Yourself Accountable to Someone Else – Research shows if you write down your goals you’re more likely to achieve them. If you write them down, tell someone you respect about them and make a commitment to report back to that person, your success rate jumps to 95%!
I offer a free gift to those who sign up on my mailing list. This published article is a “How To” for overcoming procrastination. Just “Join the Tribe” at the left and I’ll send it to you, FREE. Tell your friends to sign up, too….don’t procrastinate!
I once heard a wise woman say, “If you’re not using your time to deliver your own package, others will use your time to deliver theirs.”(Click to Tweet) At first this self discipline may look like shackles to you. This is not bondage. Manage your time well and you will get to spend more time doing what you love to do…perhaps even move a mountain or two.
Git ‘er Done!
(This post was originally published last August. Today, in the studio, I was working on another piece…same topic…Vader. I had a repeat of this incident. I wasn’t resistant to doing this piece, not at all. However, I had the same visceral reaction. I guess sometimes the Universe really wants your attention. Still…I. Have. No. Idea. What. This. MEANS. Maybe Darth Vader is my totem animal).
What makes you happy at work? Lately, I’ve taken ownership of finding ways to pump up the the happiness factor at work for others. I’ve been excising little actions and shifts in thinking that can make being at work not only more bearable, but actually exhilarating and FUN!!! No one wants to be miserable all day and studies show many with jobs, in this tough economy, aren’t grateful for them…they’re stressed!
Well, the power of intention, living in alignment with your intentions and practicing authenticity came home to roost last week. As you may know – in addition to helping individuals and teams reach their full potential, I’m also an artist. So, this is the story of how I caught myself, completely unaware, doing the very thing that squelches happiness and joy from work. This is the story of a monsoon of realization, cleansing and awareness that jerked me from my obligatory place, back into joy and fulfillment. You might find yourself doing the same thing at work. I think there’s a cure.
I was in my mosaic studio working on a commissioned piece…a subject matter I’d never choose to do on my own – Darth Vader. I hadn’t taken “ownership” of this piece, not really. I couldn’t relate to it. Now, I strongly believe that my artwork should be created with joy. Art is something I do to connect with my joyful, authentic self. Did I mention I’m not a Jedi Master? Yep – I was going through the motions, get ‘er done, cut, stick – DEADLINE. All of that is fine, but I was missing an essential ingredient that made my art, MY ART. I was missing the abandon, the connection with self. I was missing the permission of the essential “meism” that is allowed to flow when I’m in the creating process. The piece was fine, but the magic was just not happening.
Of course, I wasn’t aware of the missing piece – pardon the pun – until some music played that sent an arrow right into the authentic core of my soul. I – the essential “I” – was not invested in this work. There was no reason for me NOT to be, but I wasn’t, and I was not privy to this detail.
The waterworks began. Why do I not love you, Darth? Why can’t I need see it’s not the “thing” but the journey that brings the joy, that creates the happiness? My dogs, who were sleeping out of shot of flying glass, quickly came to check on me. Weeping, bleeding (because you bleed when you do glass mosaic, or you’re not having fun) and open to the world. Dogs know such things about openness. They assured me I was back on the true path.
Darth, I do love you! Thank you for the opportunity to create, to open my joyful self, to be with you. Isn’t that how life is? Sometimes the best thing for you is not what you would consciously choose? The shift came upon me, I yearned to do my best, to make it beautiful, to please my client, to bring it all!
The difference was I was showing up. The real me. The me who wants to change the world through bringing happiness to workplaces, the wounded me who understands how hurtful toxic workplaces can be…I peeled away the layers, I opened to myself, there I was with Darth, and I was there…all of me.
How often does that happen at work? How dangerous would it be to show up, connect with your core, bring who you are and let it shine? How can you do that regardless of the “subject?” It’s a tough calling to be painfully honest with yourself. Once you begin to do it, you find it’s miles deep, vast, wide. It’s a rich field of possibilities…and JOY!
May the Force be with You
Be Brave and Be Happy!
Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her onFacebook