How art practice and art appreciation could help us for self-development, transformation, creativity and right brain training in our daily life and work?
In this article we explore this topic: Purpose and Identity
PURPOSE AND IDENTITYI personally think that an artist voice is built on authenticity and clear sense of purpose. Without this is very difficult to connect with our inside and express emotions and meaning through art and to give a direction to it. That is why sometimes ago I decided to stop and reflect deeply on these two questions: “Who am I?” and “What I want to bring into the world?”. It has not been a easy search. I approached it in several different ways and each of them added a bit more clarity to it. I also realized that the answer is not static but evolutionary and over the years it expands based on the new experiences I do.
When I teach creativity to artists or I facilitate Art4transformation sessions for personal development I ask people to create a visual purpose statement.
That statement is like a “fil rouge”connecting and providing meaning to all the choices in life and guiding also in art making. Insipred by the book “The highest goal” by Michel Ray, I ask people to do the following activities.Exercise 1
Express creatively yourself: who you are and what you want to bring into the world
- 20 minutes: create
- 2 min: explain to other or journal about it
When you develop a creative expression and share it, you are speaking from the heart. You are one with your Self and with others. You are giving a gift that you can carry with you on your journey. You are creating a communion, with your Self, with God or whatever you call the grace that exists in the world."- The Highest goal – Michel Ray -
- Recall the most meaningful thing you did in the last week or so. Be honest, be real.
- Re-experience doing this activity. See it in your mind’s eyes and get the feeling of what made this activity so meaningful
- Ask yourself: how come this was so important, so meaningful to me?
- Why it is so important to me? (continue to ask this question to the next answers until you get down to one word (ie. Love, communication, Energy, fun, Silence etc)
- Write down the word in the blank space: my highest goal is ___________________
- Say this word out loud and acknowledge that quality as being part of who you really are
After that I ask people to articulate a sentence around it:
I am ____________________ who wants to __________
and create a visual poster of all the results. Usually it takes several rounds to a person before feeling it “right” and representative.
Usually people start by finding a purpose that is related to what they want to get from life for themselves. Then, in a second step, they start thinking to what they also want to give to others.
As an artist, I can start to think about an artistic research that is meaningful to me only by finding this answer. For example, at this moment I am working on a project around my home town Torino. I could approach it in so many different ways but the only one which feels inevitable is the one connected to my purpose. Somehow the purpose helps me to screen and make a choice among all the possibilities and ideas I could have. It gives me focus.
How might I express the soul and identity of a place (Torino) and a person (me) & its evolutionary/transformative journey?
- How the identity of a city (my hometown) is influenced by how different people (ie. Locals/Immigrants/generations) look and live the city?
- How my routs influenced my own identity? How has this has evolved by living in Asia?
- Which is the underlying soul and essence of my hometown?
This painting title is TORINO MAGICA (Magic Turin) and it represents one aspect of my hometown that is deeply connected with my identity. In the painting you can see a person (a “Magician”) represented in the fore front. This is because I want to represent Turin as one of the cities in the European Magic triangle with Prague and Lyon, but also I want to express my archetypes (*) (Magician, Creator and Jester) and for this reason it is deeply connect with who I am and it represents my authentic Self. The painting wants also to represent a concept of transformation because the Magician is the one who can transform materials trough Alchemy and my city has been going through a deep transformation and so did I. I am also someone working with transformation of people all the time, being a facilitator of transformation in the organization and business context, so everything comes together.
Also our style of painting can represent ourselves. Who we are should shine through our artwork and at the same time our style should be in service to our artwork meaning by reinforcing our message.
A reflection on the purpose could be beneficial not only in art but also at work. We could ask ourselves how our work (or other activities we do) are connected to our life purpose and how this can help us to fulfil it?
Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert I like to distinguish about four domains that often we mix together when we think about how to express our purpose:
[Quote] These four words are often interconnected, but they are not interchangeable. Too much of the time, we treat these words like they are synonyms, but they are not. They are gloriously distinct, and should remain gloriously distinct. Each is wonderful and important in its own way.
[…] 1) HOBBY — A hobby is something that you do for pleasure, relaxation, distraction, or mild curiosity. A hobby is something that you do in your spare time. Hobbies can come and go in life — you might try out a hobby for a while, and then move on to something new. […]. Hobbies are important because they remind us that not everything in life has to be about productivity and efficiency and profit and destiny. Hobbies are mellow. This is a wonderful reminder, and the concept should relax you. Hobbies prove that we have spare time — that we are not just slaves to the capitalist machine or to our own ambitions. […]
2) JOB — You may not need a hobby, but you do absolutely need a job. Unless you have a trust fund, or just won the lottery, or somebody is completely supporting you financially...you need a job. […] A job is how you look after yourself in the world. I always had a job, or several jobs, back when I was an unpublished, aspiring writer. Even after I'd already published three books, I still kept a regular job, because I never wanted to burden my creativity with the responsibility of paying for my life. Artists often resent having jobs, but I never resented it. Having a job always made me feel powerful and secure and free. It was good to know that I could support myself in the world, and that I would never starve, no matter what happened with my creativity. Now, here's the most essential thing to understand about a job: IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE AWESOME. Your job can be boring, it can be a drag, it can even be "beneath you". Jobs don't need to be soul-fulfilling. Really, they don't. […] A job is vital, but don't make it YOUR LIFE. It's not that big a deal. It's just a job — a very important and also not-at-all important thing.
3) CAREER — A career is different from a job. A job is just a task that you do for money, but a career is something that you build over the years with energy, passion, and commitment. You don't need to love your job, but I hope to heaven that you love your career — or else you're in the wrong career, and it would be better for you to quit that career and just go find yourself a job, or a different career. Careers are best done with excitement. Careers are huge investments. Careers require ambition, strategy, and hustle. Your career is a relationship with the world. I used to have jobs, but now I have a career. My career is: AUTHOR. That means: Professional Writer. […]Let me make something very clear about careers: A career is a good thing to have if you really want one, but YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE A CAREER. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going through your entire life having jobs, and enjoying your hobbies, and pursuing your vocation, but never having "a career". A career is not for everyone. A career is a choice. But if you do make that choice, make sure that you really care about your career. Otherwise, it's just an exhausting marathon, for no reason. I really care about my career, but it's not the most important thing in my life. Not even close. The most important thing in my life is my....
4) VOCATION — The word "vocation" comes to us from the Latin verb "vocare" — meaning "to call". Your vocation is your calling. Your vocation is a summons that comes directly from the universe, and is communicated through the yearnings of your soul. While your career is about a relationship between you and the world; your vocation is about the relationship between you and God. Vocation is a private vow. Your career is dependent upon other people, but your vocation belongs only to you. You can get fired from your career, but you can never get fired from your vocation. Writing was my vocation long before I was lucky enough to get the career of an "author" — and writing will always be my vocation, whether my career as an author keeps working out or not. This is why I can approach my career with a certain sense of calm — because I know that, while I obviously care about career, I am not defined by it. When I consider my writing in terms of my career, I have to care what the world thinks about me. But when I consider my writing in terms of my vocation, I TRULY DO NOT GIVE A FUCK WHAT THE WORLD THINKS ABOUT ME. My career is dependent upon others; my vocation is entirely my own. The entire publishing world could vanish, and books could become obsolete, and I would still be a writer — because that's my vocation. That's my deal with God. You do not need to make money from your vocation in order for it to have meaning. […] If you don't have a vocation and you long for one, you can pray for one. You can ask the universe with humility to lead you to your vocation — but then you must pay VERY close attention to the clues and signs that point you toward your vocation. Don't just pray and wait. Instead, pray and SEEK. Everyone wants the lightning strike, but the path to your vocation is usually a trail of bread crumbs, instead. Look for clues. No clue is too small; no vocation is insignificant. Don't be proud; be attentive. What brings your soul to life? What makes you feel like you are not just a meat puppet — not just heard to work hard and pay bills and wait to die? You cannot be lazy or entitled about your vocation, or apathetic, or fatalistic, or calculating. You cannot give up on it, if things don't "work out" — whatever that even means. You must work closely with your intuition in order to find your highest meaning in life. This is hard work sometimes, but it is divine work, and it is always worth it. (Here's a possibility, for instance: Searching for your vocation can be your vocation!) […]
The important thing is to be sober and careful and attentive enough to know what you are REALLY talking about when you consider the question, "What am I doing with my life?"
At the same time if the place where we work contributes to something good in the world and this resonates with us it is even better, it means that our work can help us to find fulfilment in life. Sometime it is just a matter to stop and think. That is what finding a purpose it is about. It is finding a vocation, a meaning, something that nurture our soul and let us feel that we are part of something bigger than just ourselves.
When I work with managers about Objective setting, I always let them think about the importance of explaining to people how their (sometimes very small and narrow) objectives can actually contribute to a bigger purpose, this makes a big difference. A worker can just everyday bring many breaks from a place to another or he/she can actually (by doing so) understand that he/she is contributing to building a cathedral, the tallest building in town or something else meaningful, something he/she can be proud of it. This depends on the story telling we have in our mind. Or manager can help us understanding the meaning of our work.
Defining our purpose and our identity can also help us in making decisions that are not based on a concept of Right or Wrong but based on what we want to be. These are the type of choices giving us the opportunities to be the distinctive people that we are.
As Ruth Chang beautifully explains in her “Hard Choices” Ted Talk, these are “on a par” choices and they can be based only on our purpose, values e and identity not with a logical right/wrong approach.
And what about you? What is your purpose?
Facilitator of dialogue, innovation and transformation
Giorgia is Italian by origins and has been living in Asia since 2008 and previously in France and US. She has been trained by international professional artists. Her encounter with different cultures has led her to deepen an artistic research that goes to the essence of things, overcoming the equivocality of the first impression and the cultural trait. Her art brings you in a journey of discovery. You travel inside her paintings and see the mundane with the surprise of foreign eyes, observe aspects you normally would fail to see. She unveils for you the unconscious. She leads to observe deeper, either a city (by observing new and uncovered details in her urbanscapes) or a human being (by the strong emotions expressed with her nude female bodies). With a limited palette of colors and minimalist strokes and lines, she captures the essence of things and their vibe, making Chinese and Western aesthetic dialogue together.
Giorgia is also the founder of Marco-Polo-Consulting, a consultancy company based in HK and operating in World Wide with major focus on Asia Pacific. The company is focused on facilitating dialogue and innovation for people-centric organizational transformations.
Giorgia has a quite distinctive background combining business and people behaviors expertise with artistic creative practice:
• Entrepreneur and Facilitator of Organization Transformation and innovation. In the last 10 years, since she created her own company in China, Giorgia has been facilitating journeys of transformations for individual, team, organization and people management systems in many Asian countries. She helps people and organizations to become more innovative and to improve the employee experience at work. She uses collaborative approaches such as Design Thinking, Lego Serious play, Art of Hosting.
• Artist and “Art4transformation©” facilitator. Formally trained and professional painter and visual/graphic facilitator, amateur theater actor and puppetry maker. In her consulting practice Giorgia currently leverages both her artistic and business experience to help others becoming more creative in the business context and develop their leadership and right brain.
• EMBA adjunct professor. She has been adjunct professor of HR and Organizational Behaviors in China for Tongji/MIP EMBA in Shanghai - China
• Corporate Human Resource senior executive. She has been leading HR departments/teams in international companies in Europe, US and Asia for more than 15 years
More details about Giorgia’s profile at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/giorgia-madonno-313b677/ and about her artworks at www.gmadonno.com
About Marco Polo Consulting
Marco Polo Consulting is a facilitator of dialogue and transformation. We provide organizational development and transformation professional services World Wide, with major focus in the APAC Region. We strongly believe that meaningful, engaging, innovative working environment will result in happier people and better business results. We belong to a purposeful international ecosystem of boutique companies and professionals, able to offer the flexibility and care of relationships of a local boutique company together with the international capability of a global organization. Our clients in Asia include Volkswagen group, Fiat, Datalogic, Pirelli, Kaspersky Labs, De Longhi , Electrolux, Vopak, Luxottica and Ferrero.
More details at: www.marco-polo-consulting.com