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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.

The Extra Mile

It is unimaginable to consider someone running an extra mile after completing a marathon. But could you imagine the news coverage? Even if he didn’t do it for that, it would be worth talking about:

Dave Jones, after completing the NYC Marathon, continues running for an extra mile. When asked why, his response was, ‘I figured I’d be the only one crazy enough to want to keep going. I just wanted to see what if felt like.’

There’s a group of people I am connected to. We are called the ruckus makers. We’re students of Seth Godin’s altMBA and we do crazy things.

  • We write blog posts daily.
  • We search for answers to unanswerable questions.
  • We look for ways to make things better.
  • We don’t follow the herd.
  • We dance with fear.
  • We stand up to injustice.
  • We disrupt the marketplace, for the greater good.

We aren’t the only ones doing this, but we’re the ones to took the leap to sign up for 4 weeks of sprinting to dig deeper into our projects and begin shipping better, faster. 

I believe the extra mile isn’t as crazy as it seems. It’s just something most people are not willing to do, because there’s no one leading. People need leaders worth following, and unless there’s someone leading in the extra mile, no one will be going there. There’s no precedence, no reason.

We can all just get along in the world everyone else is living in. And we’ll be just fine.

But for anyone who has ever decided to make a ruckus; anyone who wanted to explore uncharted territory; anyone who believed the status quo wasn’t enough for them, and wanted more.

You know one thing —we won’t likely change anything doing what has always been done and we definitely won’t change anything by standing in the middle of the masses with cattle prods trying to convince them that they are wrong for believing what they believe.

The only way to change the way people think is to go beyond what they believe and show them a different way. Prove that there’s something along the road less travelled. To want change isn’t enough, it’s up to us to illustrate that there’s something better. To do the hard work, the lonely work, the unsupported, difficult work of paving a new way.

And this is exactly why it’s so quiet along the extra mile. The trick is — you’re not alone. The trick is finding the others who want to go the extra mile.

And, when we find enough of us, we’ll change the culture, we’ll make the difference. We’ll stop settling.