How Are You An Artist?

Lyn Hilt is a school administrator I enjoy following for her thoughtfulness and creative thinking. In her recent post “Be An Artist”, she refers to Seth Godin’s book Linchpin. Godin talks about how people can be indispensable in their organizations by becoming artists and doing the emotional work they need to become linchpins. At first, I did not really see how I was being artistic in the work that I do as a school administrator. After all, let’s face it, the word “artist” doesn’t instantly come to mind when we think of “administrator”. But reading through the criteria that Hilt refers to in her post, I started to get it.  She says:

If you believe that your role as administrator or teacher or parent does not fit the definition of “artist,” I ask you to consider the following:

  • Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.
  • Art is about intent and communication, not substances.
  • Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.
  • Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.
  • Art is the product of emotional labor. If it’s easy and risk-free, it’s unlikely that it’s art.

So I started to think about how I might be an artist in the work that I do. I considered how I get a great deal of energy out of exploring ways to make the learning more meaningful, or make the assessment go a little deeper. I even thought about how we exercise creativity when trying to navigate through difficult conversations that require a great deal of “emotional labor”. These conversations often require courage and risk for everyone to come to a resolution. I find that both of these kinds of situations have the capacity to change the participants and their lenses through which they view education or their relationships.

And yet, there are areas of my work that I do not get much energy out of because I do not feel much like an artist: for example, trying to work an underfunded budget, or analyzing standardized test results for the purposes of an annual report. I wonder how I might make those endeavours a little more artistic.

So, my question to you is: how are you an artist in your work, and where might you endeavour to be more artistic in your work?

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  1. Kathy, I appreciate your reflective thoughts on my post. I agree that our work requires an incredible amount of emotional labor, with very gratifying outcomes. (And if you find a way to make budgeting more artistic, please let me know.) 🙂

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