In the Broadway musical, Finian's Rainbow, (now making a new debut), a Leprechaun, Og by name, must travel from Ireland to the American Deep South to reclaim his stolen pot of Gold. Not doing so would mean Og would face the worst of curses: turning into a human. As his reclamation of his gold is delayed, the transformation begins until he wakes up to a most human desire--love, for a beautiful woman names Susan the Silent. The overtones (and undertones) are multi-faceted and complex, but one "golden" thread to pull from this in today's blog is that of TRANSFORMATION.
In the musical, a song, "Follow the Fellow Who Follows His Dream"--written by Edgar Harburg, (the very same songwriter who wrote "Brother Can you Spare a Dime" and "Over the Rainbow")--is most poignant because it speaks to the heart of a dreamer, that is, one who owns the heart of transformation.
When, as my previous few blogs have described, we awaken--like Og perhaps--to our TRUE HUMANISM, we sense if not yet see something glorious. We long to be transformed by that vision, to transform others by giving to them the gift of the human-beautiful, of how humanity in its highest nobility COULD see the world around them. This, of course, is why I am an artist--perhaps "called" to be an artist.
Yet, I evaluate where my skill of representing this beauty is stationed and, like Og in the musical, as I am becoming an artist--though not yet fully transformed--I begin to more seriously long for the transformation. This, in a word, is called DRIVE.
If you have followed these blogs, (or would like to catch up by reading the previous few), you know that I have set for myself a vision of where my skill must be in order to produce sublime and beautiful fine art. I review that vision [my Self-Leadership Vision] daily, but will now lay out my daily grind of the hard work I employ to make that vision happen [my Managed Execution]. One does not exist without the other, for we can work tirelessly for years without a sense of direction and founder; yet, we can also just keep looking into the mirror--like Og--waiting and waiting for that transformation and in this way, too, we founder. Leadership Vision must have Managed Execution.
Please know, I work a full-time job at a great company that affords to me not only a great workplace (with many encouraging and wonderful people--Half Price Books), but a strict work week around which I build my daily regiment of Managed Execution. So, if you are an artist (or dreamer) reading this and likewise feel that blessed pastoral of dream and promise rise in your heart to near-crescendo . . . take a reality check! I say this from experience.
My dream has been in place for years, but I attempted for those years to hammer out that managed execution in an intense job that required whatever the company needed. I was "middle management" and "exempt" from hourly pay and regular workweeks. The money was good, but my dream--man, my life vision--began to show signs of stagnation and neared it's end. Stress, I learned, is not about hard work--I have never not worked hard--stress comes when we work hard in a place where our hearts are no longer engaged. So, this is what I mean about take a reality check. If you desire to "follow the fellow who follows his dream" (a wonderful song of hope in Finian's Rainbow), take a hard look at what needs to be (must be) sacrificed to make it happen. Regardless of your findings upon evaluation, you DO have the moral obligation to your self to change your life so that you can engage in the hardest, most wonderful, work you have ever known--that of building your dream--and thus render your life and this world a better place.
For me, this meant talking to Julie, my life-love, and somehow striking out into the great unknown, that leap of faith, and giving up a stressful, demanding job; downsizing our lives; not eating out; not using credit cards; watching not dimes but pennies; and moving to a new town and new place. Of course, I could not do this without some job--as that is my moral responsibility--and heaven's be praised, to find such a wonderful work environment at HPB!
However, now what!? These were MAJOR life changes. There is risk. There is no promise of success. So, now that I took the plunge, I knew that I had to get busy and get directed and get moving. Having set my vision, there is no time to waste--literally, I count my time in minutes and have stepped out a plan for each of those minutes, each day, each week, each month, each of the next two years. Am I intense? By gosh, you have no idea. I don't expect others--especially the amazing artists who took the path of great training earlier in their lives--to understand this. I accept that most people don't usually understand what THIS sort of intensity will do for a person, and do to a person--the way he/she eliminates non-essentials, and makes every decision based on one question: "does it lead me toward or away from my vision?"
So, though I intended to "block-in" the rough sketch of my daily regiment, it felt important to pause before I do and set up for you a transparency of my own self. I will do the block-in next blog.
You may not have any of the looming obstacles that I or others face; you may have less, I hope you do; however, you may have more; every situation is unique and different. But, as I have maintained, not everyone will garner the same degree of benefit from my little blog, though I appreciate all who read them, (there's not many of you :-), but thank you, each of you. Primarily, though, this transparency will resonate with others who have also taken the plunge in life to go after a dream that some others will call plain, unadulterated foolishness.
In closing, remember, how MOST brilliant artists today are trained (in the academy tradition) is the BEST way to go about becoming a brilliant artist. This is a no-brainer. If this Blog-Series inspires you to just get up, at last, and go do it--this is wonderful news. But for those of us who cannot do academy training, (ie. NY, Chicago, Paris, Florence), then we are left but with one difficult path:
"Follow the Fellow Who Follows His Dreams"
All the best,