What You Do is Your Art


Seems everything I read these days (or do, for that matter), feeds into the major themes I am working on for my business. And right now, my big five are: authenticity, vulnerability, artistic expression, genuine human connection, and the importance of storytelling.

When everything seems to vibrate on the same web, I know I’m on the right track. It’s a validation, of sorts, for a path that may otherwise seem disjointed. Though I enjoy this encouragement, I don’t necessarily need this validation. But let me tell you, it’s sure exciting when it happens.

I take copious notes whenever I’m reading. Doesn’t matter if it’s fiction, a memoir, a business book, or newspaper article, I’m always ready to borrow ideas that push along my own. Every teacher knows the importance of incorporating others’ work, and I guess I’ve never stopped gathering useful nuggets from wherever I might find them.

Right now I am reading a book on acting. That’s right, acting. Not because I want to be an actor, not even because I want to learn how others employ the craft. Mostly I am reading this because I got wind of an acting methodology that insists personal ethics are as important as talent. Theater, it says, is as much an institution of moral education as it is one of skill and mastery.

That struck me.

The book is the Stanislavski System by Sonia Moore. It reflects on the teachings of Konstantin S. Stanislavski whose “method” has since turned into a genre. “She’s a method actor,” is essentially saying the actor is following the book’s system, one by which the actor gives themselves fully over to the art itself. The results of method acting are often drastic—think, Daniel Day Lewis literally living his life as Abe Lincoln to embody a biopic role, Christian Bale losing 63 pounds for his role in The Machinist, Kate Winslet taking months to shake off her epic role in The Reader…the list goes on and on. No such affects are a surprise when the actor genuinely loves what she or he does.

They love the art in themselves, not themselves in the art.

If what you do is guided by something more extrinsic then intrinsic (like, you do it for the money more than the joy), it’s tough to embody the work for any extended length of time. Like a job you loathe or a relationship you’re only half-in, you’ll always find something more attractive and allow for such distraction. This is a fine way to lead a life of dissatisfaction.

You know people who live like this.

But people driven by genuine passion, by something intrinsic, actively ignore these distractions. They understand the risks but still plug away. Why? Because it is them. They can’t help but keep at it. Some examples: writers who spend years piecing together a novel that may never get published. Athletes who suffer through seasons of incremental improvement. Entrepreneurs who trade their lives for their business’s development.

You know these people too, and my guess is you love being around them.

These people exist in their most natural state of living. Here they have the greatest power to affect the world. You’ve heard of a “flow state,” right? Well, this is it as a lifestyle.

But you won’t get there if you are kidding yourself. And you’ll only know if you are after a serious examination of your personal story. I only know a few people who are truly living a dream, but I damn sure know a lot of people who say they are.

It’s about being true to yourself. Knowing what you want, being willing to fail as you get there, but being in love with the process more than the result.

Sort of common sense, isn’t it?

But too often folks justify a ho-hum status quo by citing social, economic, or familial responsibilities. I say screw that. Life’s too short. And frankly, the happiest people I’ve ever met aren’t creating a materialistic facade of happiness.

Bottom line, if you live a half-in life, you’re blowing it. The world desperately needs you to be fully engaged rather than doing something because you think it’s what should be done.

Ask yourself this: What do I want? Now, go do everything you can to go get it. Stop wasting time. Because it’ll all be over before you know it.

What you do is your art.



Tom Griffen is a highly sought after presenter and educator whose message and impact transcends industries. He’ll help you (and your team) alter your personal narrative in a way that adds joy, satisfaction, and overall success to your life. Be honest—you need this. Your staff needs this. Contact him and make the change you’re ready to make.

Coming soon…Purposeful Vulnerability, Tom’s book on altering the narrative you’ve been telling yourself for years.

Also…More to come on Tom’s 2018 storytelling walk across the United States.

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