Think (and Act) Like An Artist

If the game is Pictionary, you probably don’t want me as your partner. The simple fact is, I can’t draw. My animals tend to look (at best) like bloated pigs with crooked legs. To be honest, I’ve relegated myself to stick figures because to venture beyond (mostly) straight lines is a dangerous choice. If you saw my drawings or other visual “artistic tries” you would likely agree with my assertion.

 

If I can’t draw does it mean I’m not an artist? Well, if you use as your guide the most basic definition of the word “art,” the answer is likely a qualified “yes.”  Art, in the traditional sense of the word, is defined as, “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

 

But the definition above is not the only definition of art. Here’s another: “The various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.”

 

The second definition broadens things out a bit. By that definition, I’m an artist because I’m a writer and a musician. Whew. I made it. But of course, I jest. The second definition is still too narrow and here’s why. When people believe they are not artistic, based on the definitions above, it’s then easier to diminish their creative side. A statement like, “I’m not an artist” can too easily turn into, “I’m not creative.” That is a dangerous and limiting, equation. Creativity is essential for life and for the ingenuity we all seek in our endeavors. Everyone can, and should, be creative. Our lives, families, friends and workplaces need creativity to flourish.
Consider this quote from Abraham Maslow:

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The key question isn’t “What fosters creativity?” But it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.
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Perhaps an expanded definition of  the words “creative” and “art” would help us think and act like artists (no matter what we are doing)

 

What if we defined creativity as,

  • Your ability to tap your unique potential, no matter what you are doing

What if we defined art as,

  •  The expression of creative potential, no matter what you are doing

 

If we embraced these definitions, then every aspect of our lives could be an adventure in finding our creativity and expressing it as art. Now instead of just “talking,” we would have artful conversations. Instead of arguing, we would have creative conflict. Instead of grumpily throwing dinner together, we would create dinner. On it would go. Each moment of our day would be an invitation to combine our best and most unique energies with our raw materials in a way that creates art. Alchemy lives!

 

Imagine if you then introduced this idea to your tribe. Creativity would occur then when a group of people tapped their collective potential. Art would be the outcome. Leaders then would work to help people find their potential and express it in the work. I call that Tribal Alchemy. In fact, I wrote an entire book on it. You can check out the book here.

 

Living creatively means breaking through boundaries that limit your mindset and action. Try these strategies to enhance the creativity in everyday work and life.

  • Develop a healthy curiosity and ask penetrating questions (no matter what you’re doing)
  • Be a learner
  • Explore new territory
  • Explore old territory in new ways
  • Live with uncertainty and simultaneously move forward

 

The excitement of an inventive life is worth the cost required to experience it. I invite you to become more sensitive to your own creative energy and then express it every day in every way possible.

2016-09-06T05:24:52-04:00

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Written by Dave Fleming