Why You Should Think Like An Artist

Why You Should Think Like An Artist

What has art got to do with my career you may ask? Well if you think about it, thinking like an artist can help you advance your career.  Here’s why:

 

Innovation

A painter can not go around reproducing old works and expect to be successful. Neither can a musician go around pounding out the same tunes over and over, or a writer keep on churning out variations of the same sentence. In order to get anywhere in their careers, artists always have to think outside the box. The need to innovate.

Out of the box thinking isn’t a fun bonus for an artist, it’s what they need to do to get anywhere with their careers.

Art is one of those things that’s constantly getting pushed forward – people get bored of what they’ve already seen, so there’s a lot of pressure to do something new.

So instead of relying on the tried and true of what you’ve done countless times before, treat your career like an artist would. Tell yourself if you don’t innovate, no one will care about what you’re doing. Try new approaches. Look at what you’re doing in a new light. Work like an artist.

Practice

Artists practice constantly. Musicians and visual artists and actors all put in hundreds of hours of practice time. Otherwise they won’t be able to complete with all the other aspiring artists out there.

Not only do artists need to be the very best to get any work at all, but they’re also incredibly passionate. They practice not only because they need to, but because they WANT to. Because it’s who they are.

Treat your job like that. Find a career you where you WANT to hone your skills, where practicing is both a necessity and a pleasure.

Portfolios

All successful artists ones have portfolios of work. Actors have reels, illustrators have binders and binders of art. That’s how they get jobs – by displaying previous, great work.

If you want to get ahead, get into the habit of keeping a portfolio of your work. Not specifically for the purpose of showing people, but for the purpose of organizing your career thus far in your mind. Write a sentence about each thing you’ve done, so you can keep track of exactly what that accomplishment meant for the project and for you

That way, when the time for an  interview comes, or you need to tailor your resume to a certain job, you can think back to your portfolio. “What Have I done that applies? What should I include?” It’s all at your fingertips.

 

Think like an artist and watch your life turn into a work art before you.

Where To Look For A Mentor

Where To Look For A Mentor

Where To Look For A Mentor

As much as we might think we’ve got a pretty good handle on our lives and our careers, sometimes the help of a mentor is just what we need to get things moving with stronger direction and purpose. Whether you’re in sales or marketing or accounting or script writing, there are people who have been where you are. People who have more experience and insights than you. And who would be willing to share what they’ve learned to help you navigate the road ahead.

What exactly are you looking for?

The first step is determining exactly what you want help with. Has it got to do with a specific aspect of your career? With getting into a particular industry? With something more basic like getting organized? The more specific you are the easier it will be for you to find someone to help.

Your immediate circle

Once you know the aspect of your life or career where you want help, start by figuring out if you or someone you know (friend, neighbour, family member), knows someone with that particular skill.

Finding these pre-existing connections can be a huge help. From there you can impress them with your enthusiasm and willingness to learn and discuss the possibility of creating a more long-term relationship.

Human resources

Many larger corporations actually offer mentorship programs. Check and see if that’s available in your workplace or even if the HR person knows of someone in the organization with whom they could make an introduction.

Demonstrate your potential

One of the best ways of finding a mentor is by demonstrating that you are someone another person would be interested in helping along.  People will be more willing to consider mentoring you if they’ve seen examples of your work and your willingness to work. Get noticed by people ahead of you in your field.

Once you’ve got their attention don’t immediately jump in with a request for swaths of their time and attention. Offer to buy them a coffee.  Ask for some advice.

Be of benefit

From there you can offer to help them in some way. Maybe you could do some work for them for free and learn a few things while getting into their good books. A mentor/mentee relationship starts with a relationship.

Once you have a relationship established you can go on to asking for more advice and then depending how it goes, maybe some more.

You probably won’t get a mentor overnight, but by keeping lines of communication open with people from different aspects of your life you will be someone others are interested in helping.

Failing Is The Next Best Thing To Succeeding

Failing Is The Next Best Thing To Succeeding

I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time recently. Anne is a plucky, smart 11-year-old girl who inspires everyone around her with her imagination and determination. When I came to the part where Anne says, “Next to trying and winning, the next best thing is trying and failing,” I responded verbally to the little orphan that had set up a homestead in my imagination – “Why to go Anne!”

 

The superiority of trying over thinking

So often we have plans for the future. Things we’d like to do, things we’d like to try, accomplishments we’d like to get under out belt. Plans are great but until we actually take steps toward concretizing them, they are really no more than wishful thinking.

 

Despite what people who claim to know one secret or another say, no amount of positive or wishful thinking will ever move something out of the realm of possibility into the realm of reality. For that we need action.

 

The greatness of failure

The reason failing is such a good thing is that failure is the result of trying. Action taken. If you failed, you made plans, you put them into action, you proved to yourself that you were capable of more than just thinking. That you were willing to put yourself on the line. You also learned what didn’t work. Finding out what doesn’t work is invaluable in the journey toward finding out what does.

 

Try once then try again, then try again

It is the rare individual who succeeds on the first try of anything. Failures are the steps up the ladder to success. And as exciting and fulfilling as succeeding on the first try is, the sense of accomplishment is even deeper with a failure (or two or three) behind you. So try. Succeed or fail, you’ve done something good.

Why You Need To Take A Break

Why You Need To Take A Break

Go-go-go

Part of the problem with our modern always-on society is that in the middle of all that go-go-go we’ve kind of forgotten what it’s like to stop-stop-stop. You have your weekend, but do you REALLY have your weekend? Or does work follow you home? Keep you up at night, plague your weekends, make you feel guilty for taking a vacation?

 

Here’s why we think you need to remember to give time off the respect it deserves.

 

Avoid burnout

Getting burnt out is a much bigger problem than people give it credit for. Creativity isn’t just for musicians and painters it’s something that benefits people in all fields. It is a fantastic and helpful asset. But creativity needs space to grow. If you are always thinking about work, you burn yourself out and you leave no room for creativity to flourish. The only time you’ll have great original thoughts and escape the grind is during the time you give yourself off the grind.

 

Disconnect

So give yourself that time. Leave your phone off sometimes. Go outside for nice long walks. Spend time reading books, or with friends, without any kind of electronics. Discover the pleasures of pursuing a hobby like art or music. See how that affects your burnout.

 

By allowing yourself to follow things that aren’t directly tied to your work, you will become a more creative, efficient, and effective worker.

 

The counter-intuitive nature of making sure you get your rest is why a lot of people miss out on their stop time, and settle for a life that isn’t only unhappy, but also not very productive at all.

 

Don’t fall into the trap! When you have time off, HAVE TIME OFF.

 

The Kind of Day You Can Be Proud Of

The Kind of Day You Can Be Proud Of

With our jobs and commitments and expectations of things that simply have to get done, it’s easy to sometimes lose track of things outside of the must-dos of the day. But our lives aren’t supposed to be all about what we need to do and what we need to get. Just as important is what we can give. Giving makes us feel better about our days and about ourselves – and it doesn’t have to cost a thing.

 

Give your undivided attention

You might think you’re giving people your attention all day long. Every time someone speaks to you, you give them your attention, you think. Are you really giving them your attention though? Your 100% full attention? No thoughts about what you’re going to do later? No list building in your head or future projecting?

 

Most of the time when we’re speaking with others we are also carrying on another conversation with ourselves in our heads. Or glancing surreptitiously at our phones.

 

Be fully present in your interactions. It’s a gift to the person you’re talking to and yourself!

 

Give the future inhabitants of the planet a break

Do you stop by the coffee shop in the mornings or for a mid-day pick me up? How do you get that coffee to go? In a take away cup? Most of those cups aren’t recyclable. Nor are the lids. 16 billion coffee cups are thrown out each year.

 

 

Speaking of dumps, they’re also full of 486 billion plastic water bottles a year. A trillion single use plastic bags. If the numbers are overwhelming to us, imagine what they’ll be like to future generations that have to deal with them. Give the future a break. Bring your own coffee cup. Carry your own water bottle and reusable bags.

 

Give yourself some slack

Some days you’ll make mistakes. Say things you regret. Act in ways you wish you hadn’t – again. It’s easy to beat ourselves up over the things we did wrong. However, an ill-conceived moment shouldn’t ruin a day. Go ahead and reprimand yourself – then let it go. Give yourself a break. You are doing your best.

Use The Art of War to Win The Battle For Your Career

Use The Art of War to Win The Battle For Your Career

How, you might think, is a book about waging war relevant to your career? Here are a few things everyone can from “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.

“Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.

Imagine if you prepared for every situation, job interview, resume writing, discussion you’re your boss, conversation with your co-worker as if your life and the lives of the people around you depended on it. You would go into every situation, having thoroughly researched what’s going on, and armed with a meticulous plan. If that was the case, you would never find yourself in trouble because you would be prepared for all contingencies. Knowledge is power and always has been.

 “To be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.”

 

That means exactly what it sounds like. Always have a backup. When pure knowledge isn’t enough, have a way around whatever problems that the world flings at you. Never be caught in a weak moment of not knowing what to do. Always have a plan A and a plan B and if necessary, a plan C

 “When one treats people with benevolence, justice and righteousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders.”

This is advice for someone in a position of some kind of power, but it is a good reminder for your professional life in general: always treat people with respect.

If you show faith in the people around you, they will work harder to deserve that faith.

Be prepared, have a backup plan, treat people as best you can

Essentially you should prepare for life and your career by educating yourself, having a backup plan and treating people in the best way possible.

These three tips just barely skim relevant wisdom in an ancient book The Art of War is one of those books everyone should read at least once.

Why You Need A Personal Mission Statement

Why You Need A Personal Mission Statement

Maybe you want to be an extraordinary sales person. Maybe you want to head an IT department, maybe you want to be everyone’s favorite airline attendant.  Before rushing headlong in pursuit of your ambition, make sure it’s something you would actually be happy doing.

 

Assess your strengths

To help you clarify whether or not this thing you want to do is actually something you can excel at, and something you’ll enjoy doing long term, you should start by asking yourself a few questions:

  1. What do I most enjoy doing?
  2. If I could have any job in the world what would it be?
  3. If money was out of the equation what would I choose to be doing?
  4. What do I excel at?

Hopefully you can use the answers to these questions to determine the right direction for your life. You want to find something you’re motivated about committing yourself to.

 

Ask yourself where you want to be in five years. In ten years. What kind of people do you most admire? Who would you like to emulate?

 

Create a personal mission statement

Creating a personal mission statement will help ensure this plan you have for what you want to do actually jibes with the things you find important in life. If you want to be an entrepreneur, but you also want to be home for dinner every night, with defined hours so you can pursue extracurricular activities, you’re going to run into some problems.

 

Your mission statement should be a clear description of your end goal and the person you intend to be in the process of accomplishing it.  For example, you might say. “I intend to be the most successful salesperson in the North East. I will accomplish this through my intense focus on customers, my infectious positive attitude and my continuing efforts towards self improvement.”

 

Use the mission statement to constantly asses how your actions and interactions measure up to your stated goal.

 

Define long term and short term goals

Don’t simply think of this as a wish-list of things you’d like to accomplish. Think of yourself in terms of resources (time and energy) that can be allocated in different directions to achieve your objectives. How do you maximize each of those resources in pursuit of those goals? What unique talents can you bring to a situation that will lead to successful results? If you don’t feel like you already have that unique talent, what will you do to create it?

 

Your talents will be put to best use when you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses then use what you learn to get really good at doing something you really like.

Surprising Benefits of Failure

Surprising Benefits of Failure

Would you ever go out of your way to choose failure? No of course not, no one wants to fail. Failing feels bad and can make us doubt ourselves and what we’re capable of. No one wants to fail, but everyone does fail sometimes. Counter intuitive as it may seem people who have great success actually fail a lot, because it’s impossible to get to the top all in one go.

Not wanting to fail doesn’t mean we should fear failure or try to avoid it because once we do either of those things we create limits for ourselves. In an attempt to avoid failure we won’t strive as high as we want to, in a misguided belief that it’s better to be a success in a so-so playing field than a failure among the stars. But if you don’t strive for the best you can never know what your best can be.

Great benefit of failure

It’s all a matter of perception. Instead of thinking of failure as an end result, or a lack of success we need to reframe it as another stepping stone on the way to success. A pit stop for learning. A chance to re-group and do better. Nothing teaches us how to do something as well as doing it wrong, and learning from that.  A failure means our next attempt will be stronger, more on point, better planned. If that attempt fails, it’s an opportunity to try again, with increased knowledge and skill.

Keep your attitude

A failure can only bring you down if you let it. You are the one in charge of your feelings and your perceptions. You can take the failure for what it is, an opportunity, or you can label it as an indication that you are not good enough and you should just stop trying right now and never bother trying anything again.

If you let it, failure will distort your perceptions about your abilities and your chances for success. Check out these 10 surprising facts about failure from Psychology Today.

In the words of Sun Tzu, “If you know your enemy and you know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” Believe in your strengths and know that failure in no way diminishes your chances for success. Instead, see failure for what it is. An opportunity for learning and growth.

Failure keeps you sharp and strong

When a person succeeds immediately that success is easy to take for granted. That successful-off-the-bat person may only give 80% going forward because they have a sense of entitlement. When something comes easily it’s simply not perceived as highly as something that took more work, or struggle.

On the flip side, when someone fails once or twice or ten times on the way to success, that success, once reached is all the sweeter. Because that success means more, the person does more to protect it. They work harder going forward, they appreciate everyone that helped them along the way even more. They’re more apt to help the next person in line behind them with their struggles.

Failure opens your eyes to other possibilities

Aside from providing learning opportunities, failure also forces us to look at alternatives we may not have otherwise considered. If plan A doesn’t work but we’re serious about our success, then we’ll often start looking for other ways to achieve our end goal. Oftentimes those other ways turn out to be better or more efficient than our first choice, and we never would have come to them without that failure pushing us forward.

In the article, Lessons on Success: 3 Reasons Why Failing is Good Monster.com sums it up this way. “Success is good but failure is better.”

On the way to the monumental success she’s famous, JK Rowling describes herself as having failed to an epic degree. She says failure helps strip away the inessential and creates determination. She sums it up her feelings about failure this way: “The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are ever after secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships until both have been tested by adversity.”

The Most Courageous People Are Still Afraid

The Most Courageous People Are Still Afraid

If you look up the definition of courage in the dictionary it won’t say A lack of fear or The ability to push forward no matter what the obstacles.

It will say, The ability to do something that frightens one. And, Strength in the face of pain or grief.

There’s a lot to be afraid of

Some people go forward in life with no fear, but the vast majority of us are afraid of doing something for the first time. We’re worried about failing in front of others. That we are not capable of doing whatever it is we set out to do. Fear is natural. It’s beneficial. Fear forces us to try harder. It makes us double, triple check our work.

Accomplished professionals still afraid

People aren’t only fearful the first time they do something. Even those who are professionals in their field still face fear. We all know even the most famous actors have to deal with stage fright. A cliff diver who has dived off untold numbers of cliffs during their career probably still feels a twinge of – something right before leaping headfirst into a faraway pool of blue.

Most of us aren’t facing crowds of thousands of people or life-threatening leaps of faith, but our fear is just as real and just as relevant to us. It is also just as surmountable.

Great success of trying

There is a great feeling of self-worth and accomplishment when we push through and try despite our fears. If we succeed it’s fantastic, but it’s still great even if we fail. That’s because failure is a beginning. It’s a first step toward trying again and possible success in the future. Never trying is sure-fire failure. Saddling up despite our fears can take us to exciting new vistas.

Make An Impact By Planning Your Conversations

Make An Impact By Planning Your Conversations

All of us have conversations all day long, but when we have an important piece of information to convey rather than just diving in like with any other conversation, it’s better to plan ahead.

 

The importance of the beginning

Whether speaking to a group or an individual, how you start is of utmost importance because it’s the first impression of that conversation. Those first few seconds are going to set the tone of what follows. They’re going to be a huge determinant of whether the person or persons you’re speaking to are going to pay attention and care about what you’re about to say or whether they’re going to mentally check out.

 

Before you start speaking you should know where you want to start and where you want to end. By the time you’re into the crux of what you want to say, you want your listeners leaning forward mentally, and emotionally prepared to take it in.

 

There are several ways for you to grab the audience or person you’re speaking to.

 

Well thought out compliments

A sincere, well thought out compliment shows them that you’ve been paying attention to them and they will reciprocate by paying attention back to you.

 

Attention grabbing facts

Get the most important or riveting fact about what you’re going to say out right away. Capture their attention. We broke sales records last month and I know exactly how we can do it again this month.

 

If there’s recently been any news related to what you’re about to say, have a tangible, physical copy of it there with you, so you can show it to the person, let them hold it in their hands or pass it amongst themselves as tangible proof of what you’re saying.

 

A smiling face

Pay attention to what your face is doing. Some people naturally smile all the time, others don’t. It doesn’t mean the smiling person is always happy and the more neutral faced person only rarely feels enthusiastic about anything, it’s simply where their face naturally falls. If you want to engage the person or people you’re speaking to, make a conscious effort to smile. Welcome them into your space.

 

You already know what you want to say. Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on the person or people in front of you. Look confident, build up positive expectations, take charge while staying authentic and humble.

 

 

Find common ground

Find commonalities between you and the ones you’re speaking to. Personal or professional, it doesn’t matter. These commonalities are a bridge to close the distance between you and them, while also serving as a conduit into the main topic of discussion you’re about to go into.