Work, a Work of Art?
other day while painting, I realized that all work can
be a work of art.
Not just the
art-kind of work, but YOUR work as a marketer, as an
engineer, or a lawyer or an entrepreneur...the kind of
work that you do to pay the bills, buy a house and raise
the kids. You know the work that you often refer
to as the-four-letter-word kind of work that is
hopefully, yet painfully getting you to that paradise
island in the sun you call
Yep, that's the
work I am referring to and I believe your work
can become a work of art.
But, there is a
hitch. You have to put your heart into
You see, too often
we think of work and art as two separate ends of a
spectrum. One is the practical work the other
not-so-much. We also think of artists as
those who can draw, paint, choreograph, sculpt or create
beautiful works of art. In his new book,
Linchpin: Are you Indispensable
Seth Godin helps redefine it for
us: "Art is a personal act of courage,
something one human does that creates change in
another. Art is about intent and
communication, not substances." He
goes on to say "And I think it's art when a great
customer service person uses a conversation to convert
an angry person into a raving fan. And it's art
when Craig Newmark invents a new business model that
uses the Internet to revolutionize the classifieds."
of work, like art, takes heart. Seth Godin refers
to this new type of work as "emotional labor." He
states that emotional labor is needed in order for you
to be an artist in your work and to create works of art
that can create change.
Is your work a work
If your heart is in
it, most likely it is. But if you are like most
people, you don't bring your heart to work.
I don't know at
what point in time most of us started to separate work
and life, as if life ever existed without work.
Yet we separate it so much so that our hearts
stay comfortably at home while some part of us charge
off to work. And when things like "layoffs" and
"downsizing "and "involuntary dismissals" start
occurring, your skin grows even thicker as do the walls
around your heart.
I often hear people
say "I am a different person at work than I am at
home." The reason you are different at work vs.
home is because your heart usually doesn't make it in
the business door.
right; you leave your heart at home and don't dare bring
it to the office.
Bringing your heart to work and exerting
"emotional labor" enables you to connect with others,
whether it is your customer, your coworker, or your
boss. When you have connections with others
it allows you to influence and guide them to achieve
When you leave your heart at home, you
go to work to fulfill the role of being some replaceable
cog in someone else's system. You become a
scripted robot following someone else's playbook for
success. You become a victim of circumstances and
become the next layoff on the list. You relinquish
your ability to be a leader. Not only will
this limit your ability to achieve your goals, it is a
sure-fire way to drain your energy and your passion.
I believe that some
of what is going on in the job market is a wake-up call
for a new way of working. Our current
economic situation is requiring a different kind of
work, the kind of work that is filled with courage,
humility and vulnerability. Bringing your heart to
work is the only way to separate you from the masses; to
make you indispensable and to brand yourself as a
leader. After all, isn't this you have
been wanting for so long; the opportunity to bring your
authenticity and unique voice forward?
for the taking. But, it won't be handed to
you. You have to courageously step into it,
When I left
Corporate America four years ago to start my own
business, I had the passion to change the way people
looked at work, especially leadership. I also had
a personal goal of better integrating my art and my
heart into my work. You see, in corporate life I
often checked my heart at the door and kept my two lives
separate. I kept my head down more than I should
have and I tried to stay safe. But my goal as an
entrepreneur required change and I needed to be the
first to make it.
One of the first things I did in my
business was I wrote a book. In my book I share
many personal stories that are filled with transparency
and vulnerability. I typed many sections of that
book with tears streaming down my eyes.
You could say that I put my heart into it and
with it I risked everything..
When it was done, I
had to do one of the scariest things in my life; I
mailed it to my former boss and mentor, Don Knauss, now
the CEO and Chairman of the Board at Clorox. I
felt so exposed and scared because there I was on the
page with no protection of any kind.
In retrospect, this was one of my first acts of
courage in my entire career. And yet, my most
brilliant. Sharing my unedited, heart-felt words
started me down the path of reinventing myself in a new
business and a whole new way of life and in doing so
it enabled my work to change
came back with a glowing endorsement and encouraging
words for me to pursue my passion. I was relieved
and ecstatic. It gave me the needed
confidence to continue to face more and more fears that
I inevitably encountered when speaking out about my
lessons with transparency and vulnerability.
bring your heart to work and your work becomes your work
of art, you put yourself out there over and over again.
It is never with your head down or in a safe place.
So what about
you? How can you be courageous to transform your
work into a work of art? Where can your emotional
labor create change in someone else?
Transform your work
into a work of art by bringing your heart to work
and see the impact it has around you, but also within
is an award-winning author of The
Connected and Committed Leader. She is
also a consultant, and a Birkman Method certified
business and life coach who has been featured on the
Today Show and Fox News. In addition, her
accomplishments have been highlighted in several
business periodicals including Personal
Excellence, The Long Beach Business Journal, The Houston
Chronicle, Latina Magazine, and Central Valley Business
Times. Her articles on management and leadership are
regularly seen in Leadership Excellence.