I once read a story about a temperamental artist who began each day’s work by locking the door to his studio, turning on the radio to soothing and inspirational sounds, and unplugging the phone. He would work for a specified period of time before taking any breaks. On his first break, he’d brew a pot of tea and stretch his body to refresh his muscles. While drinking his tea, he would sit quietly on a small rug and meditate on the work he wanted to accomplish during the next few hours of work. He’d visualize the brush strokes or chisel strikes and what their final product would yield. After he had a clear mental picture of what he wanted to accomplish firmly etched into the forefront of his mind, he would clean his mug, place it back into the cabinet, take a quick bathroom break, and then proceed with making his mental picture become a reality.
When asked why he placed so much emphasis on his working environment existing in a state of order and cleanliness, he told people that brilliance could never be born from less. He crafted his working environment (and his personal life) in much the same way as he sculpted fine art.
Monday Morning Perspective
“I would not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.” ~Frances Willard
“It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” ~Howard Ruff
We must be no less meticulous. Crafting our lives for success is our sole responsibility, and there are a few ways to ensure that we’re moving in the right direction.
Just like he locked the door to his studio to avoid interruptions, we must be selective about the people we let into our lives. Jim Rohn said that we become the average of the five people we spend the most time with. This truth has been proven in almost every area of life from financial earnings, life satisfaction, and work/life balance to faithfulness in marriage and drug and alcohol abuse. My grandmother had a much more simple version of Rohn’s words of wisdom. She always told me that “Birds of a feather flock together.” I’ve yet to witness any crows soaring with an eagle. So show me your five closest friends and I’ll show you a very accurate picture of your life and your future. Keeping that in mind, we also have to remember what Rohn went on to say- that intentionally being selective of your inner circle makes you smart, not stuck up. Who you choose to associate yourself with has a significant impact on your personal and professional life. So if someone (family, friend, client, co-worker, etc.) is being less than respectful, doing things that challenge your integrity, or just flat out make your life miserable- it’s perfectly ok to distance yourself.
The artist also played music to set the tone in his studio. He made his working environment conducive to his concentration and focus, and even spent time meditating to get a clear picture of how he would define success. It’s not enough for us to write down a to-do list if we are constantly shifting our focus to things outside of what we’ve already defined as a priority. A great mind, Timothy Ferriss (Author of The Four Hour Work Week), suggests setting specific times of day to check (and respond) to e-mail. He suggests accomplishing the first (and most important) tasks on our to-do lists before we ever check our inbox. He leaves a block of time for e-mail before lunch and another toward the end of day so he’ll have to time respond to short-fuse items. It’s a novel concept for those of us who respond to every “ding” signaling a new message’s arrival. But it’s true. For the same reason the artist unplugs the phone, our best work will be accomplished when we limit distractions and allow ourselves to focus on our desired outcome.
So we may not be building elaborate works of art, but it’s my hope that we all value what we do. No matter what you set your mind to accomplish, sculpting your environment- the people, the place, the vibe, the process, etc. – is just as important as the decision we made to take action in the first place. Why? Because by sculpting our environment we predispose ourselves for greater measures of success!
Have a wonderfully “artistic” week!
© Crystal Dyer 2011. All rights reserved.