Art and business have many parallels. Passion and creativity are pivotal to both. Get your mojo back at work by assimilating art!
Sometimes, jobs have a dry, mechanical spin, squeezing the juice out of life. Have you ever felt brain-dead after a tough phase at work, with growing discontent tugging at your heart, telling you there’s more to life? Do you feel that ‘work’ needs to have more vitality, meaning and impact? You don’t really have to shave your head, don a traveller’s robe and stalk off on an Eat-Pray-Love journey to find yourself and your passions!☺ (Save that for the holidays!) There is an easier, more accessible path to inspirational work.
Approach every assignment as a craft of art. Convert drudgery into a scintillating stage performance. Let every endeavour yield a masterpiece.
Art demands a great collaboration of mind, body and spirit. It wakes up both the left-brain (analytical side) as well as right-brain (imagination, emotion) – for breakthrough innovation at work. Art is an expression of your life-force energy.
One of the greatest challenges of business leadership is generating enthusiasm, resolving conflict and provoking synergetic ideas. Art-based workshops boost energy shifts in company culture, healthy communication, stress management, design-thinking for product development and fresh insights on business challenges.
Here’s an overview on art for human-centred innovation and collaboration.
THEATRE & ROLE-PLAY
Let’s stop playing ‘employee’ and ‘employer’ for a moment! These definitions are too narrow. You need a role up-gradation! Here’s an example.
While mentoring a group of university professors, there was one lady, who had contributed a great deal to her institution. She confessed she sometimes felt low to be a ‘teacher’, although she loved her profession of influencing young minds. We worked through a role-play, where we blew up her personality larger-than-life. She was asked to imagine the PEAK DESTINATION she could reach as an academician, freely expressing every dream. An academician has many avenues – political advisory, business advisory (Hello, Harvard!), education reformer, social entrepreneur etc. The ‘teacher’ was made to wear all her favourite caps and enact these roles, along with others. Not only did everyone loosen up, bounce new ideas around, laugh, collaborate and encourage each other and open up their minds to possibilities, but by the end, our ‘teacher’ was a new person! She began describing herself as ‘an eminent educationist’ and ‘reformist’... and her narrow understanding of ‘teacher’ was left behind!
Theatre and role-play can kick out self-consciousness, breaking open our walls, putting us in touch with innate desires and capabilities. It helps us believe in a bigger future, and EMBODY life in star roles. We carry this open-mind back to work, becoming more of an ‘intrapreneur’.
DRAWING, PAINTING & SCULPTING
Visual-thinking bypasses the noise of the rational mind and reaches into soulful wisdom. It can help us navigate opportunities and creative breakthroughs. Visual art can release emotional blocks for better mental health and self-expression. Done in a group environment, it can generate bonding.
The Mayo Clinic has conducted research proving that 30 minutes of drawing/painting can ease anxiety, pain and energize one’s mood by 40%, lowering cortisol (stress hormone) levels. It is therapeutic, and creates harmony between our external world and internal self-representation. A 2014 study in the scientific journal PLOS ONE found that art can improve neural connections throughout the brain, increasing IQ. Another surprising study by Applied Cognitive Psychology journal found that, by doodling, participants were able to recall 29% more information during seminars!
During a workshop for a blue-chip firm, team members were paired to draw on a single canvas.☺
“I experienced my team-mate differently through this activity! I felt I had a more intimate view of his mind...” said a participant. Another participant said, “I noticed how controlling I can be! It was difficult for me to have another person painting on the same sheet. But eventually, we found a way to work together. A give-and-take process. And the artwork turned out to be more beautiful than if I had conceived of it alone!”
MUSIC AND DANCE
For decades, scientists have found that music is a brain-booster. Harvard Medical School says it facilitates better language ability, academic performance, and improved memory. It can raise your spirit. It can express emotions which can often not be expressed in words, expanding your capacity to articulate. It helps individuals cope with uncertainty and complexity. It helps us view each other in all of our humanity, instead of just a ‘co-worker’.
Dance helps in aligning body and mind. It aids in exploring feelings, fostering self-awareness, managing behaviour and addictions, reconciling emotional conflict, development of social skills, busting energy blocks, reducing depression, and increasing self-esteem. Happy hormones flood us, inducing mental clarity for better work presence.
World Bank, Coco-Cola, AT&T, British Airways and HP are some companies using music & dance for leadership building programs. Visioning, communication, customer service and managerial development are their targets.
Other arts like photography, poetry, cooking, gardening etc. can also be leveraged at the workplace.
Integrating art at work is a step towards discovering our unique inner voices & creative potentials. Art encourages understanding, trust and better connection at the workplace, for a cheerful ambience! It’s juxtapositions are a base for design-thinking in products, reframing problems with new perspectives.
Through arts, we can make it safe to engage in the deeper questions that drive our professional personalities and contributions!