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How to become the “artist”

There are different perspectives you can select through which to view your life. Different places you can paint yourself into, in relationship to the circumstances of your life.

Last week I came across a fascinating discourse on LinkedIn which offered an opportunity to explore such points of view. A young career woman who had recently taken time off work due to sickness wrote about a realisation she’d had that there was ‘…absolutely nothing waiting for us at the top of the corporate ladder.’ She spoke of the “corporate lie” that had us striving and compromising ourselves in the pursuit of “success”.  

‘…the higher we climb, the emptier we feel.’

‘…it’s all bullshit.’ 

Constructively, she suggested an alternative definition of success that involved not aiming for the title or the big pay packet but instead being true to ourselves, enjoying life and cultivating more human connection. Amen. 

In response, which was requested by the original poster, one of my connections offered an alternative perspective regarding the matter of the corporate ladder climb. He suggested that it’s up to us to steward our own lives and to use the experiences we have to develop resilience, cement and live by our values and care for our inevitable scrapes and wounds in a way that strengthens and reinforces us. Suggesting it matters not so much what we are pursuing but how we pursue it. 

Additionally, he highlighted how important it was to have sponsors, mentors and a reliable support network to help guide the way.

Some years ago, I might have agreed fully with the original poster. There was a time where I felt at the effect of life, coming face to face with my own version of emptiness and apathy during my “successful” financial consulting career. I felt as though I’d been sold a lie. And I saw asking for help as reinforcement of the idea that I had gotten it all “wrong”.

Eek. I can tell you, that world view was very disempowering. 

It took a while for me to realise (remember?) that I have agency over my experience, and to find a way to put myself in the position of cause, instead. I discovered that I get to make my own decisions about how I conduct myself in every circumstance, as well as how I value and give meaning to the various unfoldings I find myself emerging from, and course-correct appropriately based on what is revealed along the way. Just as you do (I expect this to be the case if you’re reading this, as it means you have access to certain resources).

This new paradigm required me to step outside of the victim-villain-hero dynamic—which I’ll elaborate on further in a future email—and see myself as a conscious participant in my life. If we can be a little poetic about it, to see myself as the artist

Referencing my own experience as well as those I’ve been blessed enough to witness inside of my coaching practice, I’d assert that both perspectives summarised above are true.

She’s probably right, there is nothing waiting for you at the top.

And he is probably right, what happens along the way is actually the treasure we might hope to find at the “end of it all.” If only we might dare to see it that way. 

Apparently, Lao Tzu once said:

“The man who loves walking will walk further than the man who loves the destination.”


Curiously, I invite you to consider what might become available to you should you re-cast yourself as the artist, too? If you were to focus your attention on investing yourself in the becoming.

To extend the metaphor… as the artist, how do you choose your colours? Would these not be the values with which you choose to live and through which you make your most important life choices? This is the premise I’m putting forward. 

But how do you know what your values are (if not already)? I might be able to help wit that...

One of the tools I offer to my clients, or occasionally to those contemplating a season of work together with me, is an exercise to determine what one’s values are. I’d like to offer that to you as my gift today. 

Keen? Let me know by reply email and I’ll send over the materials. 

(It comprises a ~25-minute video and a fillable PDF document that walks you through the process.)

I’m looking to develop this method further, so any feedback on this process would be warmly welcomed, but is absolutely not required. 

As with any artistic pursuit, resistance is bound to come up and keep you from your creative task. The invitation is to see this as reassurance that you’re indeed on the path where all the treasures are to be found.

“Resistance is a natural response to tension. It’s also a natural aspect or element of creativity.”

- Michael Meade

Becoming the artist is not for the faint of heart. Being at cause is a lot of responsibility. But it’s worth it... it’s the way you turn that “bullshit” into cream, and enjoy fullness over emptiness.

It goes without saying, if you're not quite sure how to gain that kind of perspective given the circumstances you're currently in, I'd be pleased to have a conversation with you about how private mentorship might be able to help. Get in touch if you'd like to explore.  

With each paint stroke, the picture grows more vivid, more whole. 

Light, shadow, and perspective. 

We know not what might be finally revealed, but we continue.

Brush by brush, colour by colour. 

When we govern ourselves by what matters, a masterpiece becomes inevitable.

Wherever you’re climbing, whatever you’re climbing on, whatever you’re collecting along the way, remember to stop and enjoy the view.


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