Unleash Your Crayon [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

unleashthepower WITH EYES jpeg copy“…art is a staple of humankind – never a by product of leisure or elitism – and so urgent, so utterly linked with the pulse of feeling that it becomes the singular sign of life when every other aspect of civilization fails.” ~ Jamake Highwater, The Language of Vision

Many years ago I was excited to move into a new studio. Many people in my circle responded to my news in the same way: “Oh God! That’s too much pressure! Now you’ll have to use it!”

I wish I could say that I was dumbfounded by the common response but I wasn’t. As a coach, I wish I could count the number of clients I had who spent many hours and huge dedication of resources to fulfill their dream of having a studio – only to fear walking into it. They thought the lack of a studio was the obstacle and discovered that the real challenge was the banishment of their imagination, the leash they’d placed on their full expression.

Taking off the leash is a daunting affair. It means facing the reasons the leash seemed necessary in the first place. An imagination placed on a leash does not go away, it turns to dark imaginings. It eats itself. It separates. It isolates.

Art is not something that can be approached through reason. It is much more essential, much more primal than intellect alone can reach.  It is accessed through the heart door. The intuitive knowing. Yoda would call it the force.

So, thankfully, the leash cannot be taken off by thinking about it. Experience. Express. Follow. Listen. Feel. Breathe. Reach. Do. And, feel some more. In feeling, in an unbridled imagination, there is connection. There is possibility. There is expansion of spirit and capacity. There is – and this is the power of art – the force that creates community.

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy

read Kerri’s blog post about UNLEASHING THE POWER OF YOUR CRAYON

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

unleash the poser of your crayon ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Why

792. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I’ve heard this phrase several times in the past few months: What you put your mind on grows. If I think there is a monster under my bed I will listen for the monster’s movements. The monster will get bigger every night. This morning Elizabeth and I had a great conversation about what happens when we micro-focus on the one thing that’s not working. You know the story: the micro-focus overwhelms everything else. The gold is invisible when the speck dominates the focus. A single mosquito buzzing in your ear can make all of nature invisible.

Recently I’ve been sitting in on Skip’s Design for Demand course. It’s an MBA course in the Human Centered Design track. The students are examining online learning platforms to improve the design of each platform. They are having a difficult time breaking through the superficial to see the essential. The speck on their gold is the assumption that the purpose of education is to get a job. “What are you going to do with this?” is confused with “Why do this?”

Simon Sinek reminds us that at the center of every successful venture (adventure) is the question, “Why?” Why are we doing this? Why must precede What and How. It is simple: What and How carry no meaning. To focus on the result with no consideration of the reason is an empty pursuit. “To get a job” is a result. “To make money” is a result. “To raise test scores” is a result. Assuming that the purpose of education is to get a better job or to micro-focus on raising test scores is to design an empty pursuit. It is a fool’s errand.

If you don’t get a job is your education meaningless? If you get a job but have nothing to bring to it are you worth hiring?

For a brief moment the MBA students shifted their focus and rightly identified that a major obstacle in online learning platforms is that they are designed for consumption and not for engagement. Learning is not consumption. Information exchange is not learning. Learning IS engagement! Some fresh air blew through the room. They sat up! They glimpsed a bit of information that might lead them to meaningful design! And then someone asked, “How will employers know…?” They slumped and began looking for data to consume. They discussed how they might get people to care. Their conversation was once again trapped in the What and the How.

They were so close and then the monster under the bed retook their focus.

Find Your Voice

722. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Yesterday I worked with teachers and students in an art cadre. We explored what it means to make art.

I am resistant to write, “We made art” because it implies that the “art” was a product, a thing separate from the process. It implies that the “doing” was incidental and the outcome was the thing called “art.” That notion is upside down. The art is not the outcome. The art is the process yet we have no language to correctly express it. What happened in our art cadre was essential. The students and teachers recognized that a great product requires a great process; the process is the essential.

We focused entirely on process because I know that students and teachers alike are all the time squeezed into demonstrating outcomes. They are forced to let go the primary in service to the secondary. Art teachers are generally under siege and always have to prove their value to school districts because school districts see “art” as an incidental. Consequently, art is often taught as a product and therefore not art. It is misunderstood as something non-essential.

There is an entire industry known as “self-help” dedicated to a single, simple impulse: the full expression of the self: how to give full voice to perceptions and ideas without impediment. In other words, how do we get out of our own way? This is a question of process and reachable through “art” when art is understood. Businesses invest fortunes to “brainstorm” new ideas, to see patterns and give form to new conceptions. Perception is the province of “art.” I hear whining from the glass towers of commerce: “Why aren’t schools producing self-directed, critical thinking workers?” Answer: dedicating the focus to outcomes and answer regurgitation (in other words, beat the art out of people) will always produce a hiring pool of anesthetized answer regurgitators. We get what we produce. Self-expression and critical thinking are sister skills. Quash one and we quell the other. Art would seem to be an essential skill for business.

One of the saddest moments of the day came after the cadre. Two teachers stayed to talk. They told me that they knew what they are doing to kids (yes…doing TO kids) is wrong. They are required to produce products. They believe that they have no voice in the matter. They told me that they agreed with everything we explored but must serve the product expectations of their district. I didn’t ask the question I wanted to ask. There seemed no point. I wandered when they would wake up and recognize that supporting a system that they knew to be harming kids was also taking a toll on their health and lives. Voice is not something other people give you. It is something that you have to agree to give away. Voicelessness is a terrible thing to exchange in order to follow a rule, especially if you do not believe in the premise of the rule.

Show Up

707. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” Neil Gaiman

The clichés are ubiquitous: fingerprints and snowflakes, each of us is unique in the universe. There will never be another like you and if you’ve ever looked through a telescope into the universe you will recognize how profound a recognition that is. The universe is vast and you are unique in it. You are vast.

The paradox of our uniqueness, of course, is that we want to fit in. As E.O. Wilson suggests, the strongest human impulse is to belong. The question becomes do you need to sacrifice something essential to fit into someone else’s idea or is bringing to life your unique perspective the very thing that will make you belong?

I recently heard a speech and the speaker was making a case for self-love. She spoke of the myriad of opposing opinions she’s heard and sometimes entertained about who she should be. Like most of us, she spent many years trying to conform herself to those conflicting ideas – other people’s ideas of who she should be. Aesop wrote a fable about that and the moral was clear: you will lose it all if you don’t listen to yourself. No one has the capacity to love you like yourself. When you come upon your idea of who and what you want to be, and strive for that, there is no conflict or sacrifice. You will fulfill it all when you listen to yourself. This, too, was the speaker’s conclusion.

To me, the shorthand is to orient your life according to what you bring to it and not according to what you get from it. Show up as you know yourself to be not as anyone expects you to be. Let yourself be seen as who you are: unique in all the universe.