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The Artist’s Dilemma

The Artist gives her heart to the cause. Her work, I’ve heard many times, isn’t for the audience.

It’s for Art’s sake. 

The Marketer positions the work so that the audience will make a decision to buy it. Her work, on the other hand is to profit from the Art.

This works very well when the production team is staffed with artists who are pleased with the opportunity to deliver their art for the greater good. It pleases their soul.

If the artists produce their art for an organization that recognizes the value of their art, they are well-compensated for their contribution. The Marketers, then take the work of the Artists and find a way to help the organization profit from the work the artists are contributing.

This, to me is a win-win proposal. It’s a conversation for another day.

The “hard work”, as Seth calls it, is when the Artist must also be the Marketer.

To feel the joy that comes from making art, and the passion to make a significant contribution, when she must also generate a living.

This might be why so many Artists struggle with Imposter syndrome.

On one hand, it’s our art, and it’s a joy to create it.

To achieve mastery of our art is our never-ending quest.

On the other hand, the agony of feeling like we must position our passion as a “business,” challenges the artist and leaves her questioning whether her motives are pure.

Whether she can make a difference, AND a living.

Getting paid to Sprint — is that the same as selling out? If (and that’s the big ‘IF’) she can profit from her Art, the same way an organization with its own marketing team might.

In the end, the Artist will choose to do what calls her soul and leads her to do work that matters.

And this, is what finding real talent might look like today. To know someone who would lay it all on the line for the sake of their art, is to know that someone is truly committed to the art that they produce.

The thing is, art isn’t easy.

If it were easy, art would not hang on walls, or be revered or appreciated, because it wouldn’t be art — it would be commonplace.

It if were easy, more people would choose to make a difference, instead of simply opting to make a living.

If it were easy, the young artist wouldn’t be discouraged by her parents from pursuing her art – (thank goodness that was not a challenge I ever experienced.)

So, maybe, art isn’t for art’s sake after all.

Maybe it’s for human’s sake.

Because the art of being human, taking the risk of being vulnerable, and waking up day after day knowing “this might not work” is exactly what makes us human, and the joy of doing work that matters might just become an art form …

Someday, this is what success might look like.

Something I’ve Never Seen

Bringing Different Perspectives Together for the Greater Good

How we look at the world will never be complete. Individuals can only see a fragmented view, based on a very limited scope of the world, based on our own experiences.

I have never experienced poverty, although it exists.
I have never been the target of racism, but it’s a real threat for many.
I have never been a man, because I was born a woman.
I have never been homeless, but there are people who need shelter.
I have never been a politician, a news reporter, a millionaire.
I have never been abused, neglected, arrested, or evicted.

My tender heart has become stronger as I have learned how ugly the world can be, even when your heart is in the right place. Even when you have the facts to support your beliefs, or an opinion that contradicts what others are saying, your expertise can only be based on the realities you’ve lived yourself, or the data that is gathered from others, who also can only report based on the realities they have lived themselves.

It’s a flawed system, because we are all flawed humans.

There’s an ongoing struggle in my heart, and maybe in the hearts of others. The conflict that challenges me the most in the work I do, is between the Status Quo and the Greater Good.

The Greater Good

The Greater Good endeavors to see beyond the world as we know it. To see things that “Could be” and address more than just one group, category or sector of the population in every consideration. This requires that we take off our myopic lens, and try to see beyond our own scope and limited interpretation. It requires that we do not accept our understanding of the world as absolute.

This is where consensus comes in. Not one person’s view, but a diverse and possibly opposing group of people, coming together to find a way forward, for the greater good.

Egos must be checked at the door, and an understanding that we’re not here for ourselves, or for what might be best for me (or those that I represent), but for what might be best —  or as close to best for the most — and especially for widest reach.

The Status Quo

The Status Quo doesn’t always consider themselves as the status quo, which makes it harder to acknowledge, and more challenging to overcome. What we might see as a conversation about “what is best for all” actually is “what is best for me, or for those I am defending or protecting.

What we fail to recognize most of the time is that we’re basing our desire to keep things as they are, solely on our own experiences, ignoring, or disregarding that there are other players, other needs to be met and a bigger picture than just our slice of the world.

We defend our position when we’re feeling that a change might usurp all of the work we’re doing, or have done, or are planning to do.

How do we find a way forward, when there are conflicting agendas and opposing views? How do we balance power, with what’s best for everyone, including the powerful? Does “leadership” require that we place our agendas to the side and work to raise the bar? Or, could it be that our role as leaders is to see and hear others, do our share of the work, and together, find a way to be the bar?

Being the Bar

Being the bar, means walking the walk. It means leading from within, and throughout. Not standing in the front, or behind, not looking on from the sidelines, not keeping our ideas separate, but bringing our knowledge and experience, and perspectives into one place. But, most of all, it means realizing, and admitting that, even as experts, as people who have the means to achieve what we need, for our business, or organization, we’re still on the hook as a member of the community — and we’re all working for the same goals.

An individual wants a family, a family wants a neighborhood, a neighborhood wants good schools, good schools want good businesses, good businesses want good communities, good communities want good leaders, and good leaders want good individuals.

Top down doesn’t work as well as it used to, and we’re all still getting familiar with the new rules of engagement. But there’s one thing that will never change — being part of a community isn’t just for people with a title.

In the past, raising the bar was all we talked about. And, that job fell on the shoulders of the people with the titles, power, influence and leadership.

Today, being the bar means we’re all in this together. Creating the future, painting the vision and then, staying in the game to achieve the greatness we all believe is within our reach. It is not just in some of us, it really is in — and up to — all of us. We simply need to make the effort to see from beyond our own experiences.