Marrying soul and role

We rarely, if ever, find it. A role (paid or otherwise) that touches our soul.


Two things:

  1. Fear; and
  2. Money.

But let’s back up a bit.

In the beginning, there was a need to ‘produce’ so that we could live. Somewhere along the way, the Industrial Revolution screwed things up, and we became obsessed with growth. That didn’t mean we all adopted a factory mindset —  bosses and workers alike — but that was the overriding paradigm.

And look where it’s left us on the work/spiritual plane.


From the inside out.

Oh sure, there will be a smidgen of people who fit the artisan brief, but for the rest of us, we’re wage slaves.

And I get it. No, I do. Hell, I’ve played the game (in most part save the politics) better than most, but what it means is that our egos take over and we run scared. In fact, it’s that bad we sacrifice our life for a job.

Let me say that again. We’re so timid that we give up on the life we could or should be living in favour of a wage.

Don’t worry. I know this diatribe is replete with holes and exceptions but my point — in case I’m not making myself crystal clear — is that we’re spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings having a spiritual experience.

That means, in case you hadn’t noticed, that we’re hard-wired to create…art. And I don’t just mean the type of art that Van Gogh and others are known for. I mean:

“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.

What makes someone an artist? I don’t think is has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards, or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while swell people, aren’t artists. On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an artists who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.

An artists is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artists takes it personally.

That’s why Bob Dylan is an artist, but an anonymous corporate hack who dreams up Pop 40 hits on the other side of the glass is merely a marketer. That’s why Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, is an artists, while a boiler room of telemarketers is simply a scam.

Tom Peters, corporate gadfly and writer, is an artists, even though his readers are businesspeople. He’s an artists because he takes a stand, he takes the work personally, and he doesn’t care if someone disagrees. His art is part of him, and he feels compelled to share it with you because it’s important, not because he expects you to pay him for it.

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.”

— Seth Godin, Linchpin

Will we ever be inspired to change?

Some people will but the majority of us will adopt the same posture as before; and whilst we’ll continue to finger wag for all we’re worth, we won’t get off our high-and-mighty seats and do anything to challenge, let alone change, the status quo.

Is it then that I’m daring you, as I do myself, to push back against ‘management’ and invite them to conjure up more heartfelt work? Yes, absolutely.

But what I’m really inviting is a more beautiful question than “What’s next?”

You see, emotional labour, whether in the art camp or otherwise is bloody hard. To turn up and do your usual sh*t and then do something better requires you to take a risk. It means you bending a few rules, speaking up and looking elsewhere for inspiration. But one thing I know for sure is that if you’re willing to put in the hard yards, the rewards will give you more than just another fancy label to adorn your CV. You’ll know, in the way your spirit is lifted, even in dark times and especially in dark times, that the work you’re doing is helping you to grow spiritually and emotionally.

Is that worth the fight?

I think so.