Thanks Seth Godin! What you do is art.

Aug 23, 2011Work Uncaged

In his book, Linchpin, Seth Godin writes, “Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. . . An artist is an individual who creates art. The more people you change, the more you change them, the more effective your art is.”  I adore this on so many levels. My heart in writing and speaking has always been in life transformation, about connection and change.

So the cool thing is, whatever you do, wherever you are, you can be an artist–one who enacts change in those you interact with. This makes a deep and real conversation art. This makes positive interaction with your customers art. This makes your dedication to excellence art. What you do is art if your heart is to see transformation.

So the question becomes, how can your life be art? How can you live and work in such a way that others change? What do you create that makes people stop, pause, and think? How have you shocked others (in a positive way) because of the creative way you view a solution?

This also means that any emotional homework you do translates to the field of your art. Seth continues:  “Sometimes, though, caught up in the endless cycle of commerce, we forget about the gift nature of art, we fail to do the hard work of emotional labor, and we cease to be artists.”

In terms of writing, I’ve read my fair share of books that feel cookie cutter, where the author regurgitates things I’ve read before. The books that stun and woo me are the ones where the author has taken a long trip down an emotionally charged highway and dared to think/dream/write differently. I’ve often told my writing students, “Great books flow from a great heart.” To create soul-stirring art, we must realize that we’re not copycatters. We are not simply purveyors of others’ thoughts and hardwon truths.

To be artists is to dare to go there. To be real with ourselves. To welcome the barenaked realities of life, stare ourselves in the face, and seek God’s interaction in the midst of our world.

Even when I teach novel writing, I emphasize this fact. We can be safe storytellers, relying on convention and what’s been done before. Or we can examine ourselves, live life more fully engaged. That engaged life can’t help but spill onto the page. Or overflow into our work and life.

Stop a moment today and tell yourself, “What I do is art.” Realize that as an artist, you will bless the recipients of your art the more you dare to be real with yourself and God in the quietness of your home. Do the hard work, then create like the wind. We will be changed if you do.

And as you deepen and improve your work, reward follows. Seth encourages, “A day’s work is your chance to do art, to create a gift, to do something that matters. As your work gets better and your art becomes more important, competition for your gifts will increase and you’ll discover that you can be choosier about whom you give them to.”

Be encouraged today. Your art is bringing you to new places. Remember Proverbs 22:29: “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”

So persevere. Do the hard work. Give your art freely. Work as an artist wherever God has placed you. This world needs you.


What prevents you from seeing your job as art? What surprised you about this post? What bothered you? What convicted you?