We’ve all heard the saying, “Art imitates life.” When I think about that it calls to mind sad songs which speak to everyone suffering through heartbreak, or Bob Ross painting his happy trees which we feel when we connect with nature. But there is a different perspective that intrigues me; how life imitates art!

We are taught that to be “successful”, we need to have goals. Something I was taught throughout my time in early leadership positions for “Take Your Pick” corporation, was that a SMART goal is an effective goal. SMART is an acronym which stands for; Specific, Measurable, Action, Realistic, and Timeline. This is a good start…but I’d like for you now to pause and think about what “success” means to you.

The issue with the SMART method is that it is destination oriented. SMART also assumes that you are a machine and if you just figure out these criteria, you’ll achieve greatness. A goal is a creation, isn’t it? Something you’d like to create. Should our method be so rigid when we’re in the creative process?

Taking a look at the world of art and those who stand out in our minds as the greats like; Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Mozart, and then more modern; Jimi Hendrix, Meryl Streep, Daniel Day-Lewis, Neil Peart. We can look at these artists bodies of work and it’s entirely plausible that a similar method was used whether it was formalized or not. There is however something big that falls in between the letters of that acronym which must be acknowledged in order to be successful AND happy with the work we do.

What’s left out, which these artists had a handle on, is that they loved their craft, the process behind what they were creating! We stifle the creative juices by tying ourselves to the destination, to the outcome! Some seem to figure this out and run with it throughout life, some figure it out later, but these are the people who become great at what they do! One of my favorite examples is Nick Nolte (but there are others that come to mind). In life, Nick Nolte appears to be a man in pain, suffering, possibly an alcoholic (pretty sure), etc. Once the man has a role to perform, though, he comes alive, he studies, he immerses himself in the part and more or less loses himself in his work. That’s passion! What comes out as a final work is masterful and beautiful! That’s the great challenge in today’s world, though; how do we keep the other aspects of our lives in balance while pursuing passion?

We are too often pushed into one industry or the other, into one school or the other, with the expectation that we’ve found passion and are on the right track to being an upstanding citizen. Most of us go through those years just thinking that this is the only way, and it’s not. We have a responsibility to ourselves to make this life whatever we want it to be. So I challenge you, in the work that you do, to find a way to love and appreciate the process of what you do, and if you can’t, then change what you’re doing.

If you’re finding yourself in a position where you are worn out, and not seeing alternate options, try to rediscover the passions of your youth. It’s never too late to explore that which once fed us!

So go pick up that old paint brush, that dusty set of chisels, or that beautiful guitar that needs to be restrung, and feel your souls nourishment return as the muscle-memory kicks in! Be sure to feel it, and let go of that end result, for it changes and mutates as you further down your path.

What passions have you abandoned in the past that you’d like to explore again?


Image: Taylor Wise

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