Have you ever thought about your career or the work you do as art…as a form of personal creative expression? We can easily summon an image of the painter, sculptor, musician, writer or inventor in their studio, engaged in the wonderful process of creating a masterpiece. (One of my dreams is to model my office on a Leonardo Da Vinci-type studio, but that’s another story.)
Try applying this analogy to you and the work you do. Your career…past, present and future is a canvas upon which you are painting, a block of stone upon which you are chiselling. The work you do, the life you lead, are the works of art that you create.
Imagine that pursuit of excellence in the artist we summoned to our imagination. Are you working purposefully on YOUR masterpiece…on something that matters to you, something that requires total engagement and all of your faculties, something that brings alive your values and imagination, something that requires your absolute best work, something that will survive beyond today’s work day?
It is very easy to lose sight of the big picture (pun intended) in the day-to-day survival and busyness of our lives. Who has time for this kind of thing? Well, if this idea resonates at all with you, you can easily find justification in the following: working at this kind of level makes you more attractive to the market (who doesn’t like working with committed, engaged individuals) and more interesting at cocktail parties. It could awaken a sense of purpose you have been missing. It could make you happier. It could be part of your legacy. Heck, find your own reason.
The Oxford Dictionary defines it as
“an outstanding piece of artistry or workmanship” and “a person’s best work.”
Let me mold the concept of a career masterpiece for our purposes:
- Your masterpiece is whatever you say it is, as long as it represents your BEST work. You are the judge. Ultimately, only you know if you gave your all.
- Your masterpiece can be a thing that you produce with a start and finish. Or, it can be the steady, elegant service you provide, or work you do, day-in, day-out.
- Achieving international acclaim is a wonderful thing. But the absence of it does not take away from what you have done. If you can gaze at what you have done with pride, knowing that you gave / are giving it your all, then that is masterwork.
- For some people, their life’s work is focused on one thing. For some of us it is less focused. Perhaps, think itty-bitty masterpieces vs. grand masterpiece.
- Some people embody this ideal in how they live their lives…and that’s really cool.
You get the picture.
So, what are you working on?