Tag Archives: work

The Art of Persistence : Not Giving Up

Persistence : Part One

Back in February 2016, the Art for Work’s Sake project was a finalist in the Learning and Performance Institute’s annual awards, innovation category. The entry fell at the final hurdle, and though I was up against some much bigger hitters, at the time I was disappointed to remain a finalist, not a winner. The LPI gave me a piece of glassware to acknowledge the journey – and after putting it back in its box on the evening of the awards, it has remained there. Until today. Today it’s on display in my office.

I realise I let my disappointment cloud how I feel about my work, and for a while, I backed away from the excitement, challenge, and everything which makes me and my work what it is. I guess I lost some confidence, retreated to safer territories. The trouble is I don’t like safe. In my line of work it’s boring, it’s waiting to be told what to do instead of figuring it out, it’s coercive not coactive, and it’s overcrowded. David Henry once shared with me an excellent Tom Fishburne cartoon which sums things up nicely.

With a little help from some friends, I’ve been working my way back out of the herd again. Running workshops, giving short talks at conferences, piloting new ways of working with clients. Each piece of work, building on the last, a blend of care, preparation and the all important improvisation. The willingness to say ‘yes, and…’. The excitement of having a basic script, and being completely open to tearing it up. To go with the flow, to the uncharted territory where the really interesting and useful stuff lies.

This adventure is back on track, and very soon I’ll share details of the first phase of The Art of Innovation, a collaborative and practical adventure blending organisational development, the employee experience, and art. It all kicks off in London and Berlin this summer.

Persistence : Part Two

IMG_3629The middle of March 2017 marked the 50th consecutive week of my free art project. This milestone was celebrated with a joint free art drop made by Chloe Ray and me. Chloe released her latest EP the same week as the art project turned 50, and I made a painting to reflect a song on the EP titled ‘Not Giving Up’. The canvas is 80cm x 30cm and this is the first time I’ve painted at this scale. I’ve been wanting to scale up my work for some time, and having done so once, within 24 hours of painting this piece I did it again.

IMG_3639.jpg

This time I painted an abstract of the view over London from the 34th floor of the BT Tower. It’s taken me years to find the confidence to paint and show my work at this scale, I’ve persisted with my work – clearly the time is now right.

Persistence : Part Three

A few weeks ago I was encouraged to apply to Arts Network Sutton for some grant funding to enable me to carry out some workshops, an exhibition, and other free art related activity in the coming year. I’ve just found out the application has been successful. This application wouldn’t have succeeded if I hadn’t stopped thinking about free art, and started making it, all those weeks ago. Looking back – I can see threads of the free art project in my work which snake back way before I started painting and giving art away. I have shifted from persistence of thought, to persistence of action.

I’m good at coming up with ideas, and I used to think I was rubbish at bringing these ideas to fruition. This clearly is not the case. Maybe all I’ve been doing for the past 51 years, is searching for the things which really excite and drive me in the service of myself and others, the ideas which matter, which resonate deeply.

Persistence : Part Four

For too long, I’ve been searching for the next big thing, when the signs are right in front of me. This artistic approach to work is where I am most alive, and where I can be of best use to myself and to you. I think I am the primary audience for this post, so if you’ve read this far, thank you and well done!

More to follow, soon.

Why Do I Do What I Do?

Today’s blog post is inspired by Julie Drybrough and Niall Gavin. Julie recently reminded me of a process called ‘wild writing’ where you just write. Don’t think any more than you have to, just get on with it. Julie describes this in more detail here. I took a look at her work and tweeted my appreciation. Niall then approached me and suggested I try it. I did so, and in the spirit of working out loud, of showing my work, here is what fell out of my brain onto my keyboard with in a minute or two last night.

Why Do I Do What I Do?

I don’t like answering this question. I have doubts about why I do what I do. It doesn’t pay as well as my old corporate life, and my work is packed full of uncertainty, but I often enjoy it. I get satisfaction from my work and from seeing people realise there are others ways to think feel and act. I’m drawn to difference, and I’m drawn to integrating difference, without losing it. I enjoy paradoxes, I enjoy sharing my vulnerability to demonstrate that when I do so, interesting curious things can happen. I do what I do because I get the opportunity to travel, and to develop and share my story. Part of my story is my art, and part of the story of my art is that you never know where your story will take you if you remain open to the possibilities. Try it, you might like it. What is it? I’m not always sure. I do what I do to test myself – to challenge myself, so that I might then challenge others. Maybe not challenge others, encourage is probably a better word. I’m anti ignorance, anti coercion. I get angry, happiness is over rated. I’m straying from the why do I do path, I like to wander. I don’t appreciate certainty – it binds and restricts us, so I do what I do to help people overcome the certainty epidemic. I am conscious of the power and privilege that being a white man affords me. I often see this power and privilege wielded with ugly ignorance, and even uglier intent. I do what I do in pursuit of inclusion, even though I exclude at times. I’m frequently conflicted – I believe most people are, and many are not willing to acknowledge this, which strikes me as another inhibitor. I do what I do because there is more to life than following orders, and doing what is expected of you. Do the unexpected sometimes. I am learning that you can proceed until apprehended and do so with kindness. This is my answer to the question, Why do I do what I do? I will have another go at answering this question tomorrow.

Are These The Right Things?

I am a member of a Facebook group called New Business : Next Steps, run by Ann Hawkins and Ed Goodman, authors of an excellent book by the same name. Ann often bookends our working week with some good questions about what we’d like to achieve, and how we’re getting on.

Lately I’ve been feeling lost, and somewhat withdrawn. These are things that happen from time to time, that’s life, etcetera. I’m no complaining, just acknowledging. When I feel like this, I tend to withdraw from responding to Ann’s questions too. Lately I’ve been nurturing a bias for action, so today, I chose to reply to this prompt from Ann:

Check in Friday: What was the most useful thing you did this week that made a difference to your business?

Here’s how I replied.

  • Wrote 4,000 words towards my book.
  • Asked people in my network for help with some questions to provoke more content for the book.
  • Kicked off plans for a Berlin/London art meets work mini tour.
  • Made a conscious effort to stream my thinking and to do stuff, it’s been far too messy lately.
  • Wrote a farewell email to a group I’ve been working with.
  • Attended the quarterly business review of a partnership I joined a few months ago. Doing this helped me see first hand and in more detail, the exciting work we can do together.
  • Shared a video of my talk about the art and soul of better work from this year’s All About People event.
  • Made what I think is a lovely piece of art for my weekly local free art drop.

Clearly I cheated, this is not the most useful thing I did this week, it is several useful things. Are they the right things? Who knows, and what they are, is evidence that in among the doubt, I am taking action. Thank you for the prompt, Ann.

In case you are interested, here is the art work I mentioned, and the video of the Art and Soul of Better Work talk.

Winged Heart II

Have a lovely weekend.