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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gladys Taber

"We need time to dream, time to remember, and time to reach the infinite.  Time to be."

American Writer
1899 - 1980

In the fast paced, always connected world in which we live, we sometimes forget about the importance day dreaming.  Do you take  time to day dream?  To rethink your life?  To remember why you are here?  To simply be?  As the old saying goes: stop and smell the roses.    Easy to say and hard to follow.  We are so busy staying in touch via our cell phones that we don't experience the world around us.  During this next year, take time to dream and remember.  Take time to be.  

Friday, December 30, 2011

Gary Zukav

"Changing the world  begins with the very personal process of changing yourself.  The only place you can begin is where you are, and the only time you can begin is always now."

American Writer/Speaker
1942 -

Painting and writing is about re-creating and re-structuring the world the way we would like it to be.  The creative process is about changing ourselves and in the process of changing ourselves we change the world.  How have you changed in the past year?  How have you grown and developed as a person and as a creative leader?  What choices have you made in the last year to change your life?  Do you understand yourself better today than you did a year ago?  What have you learned about yourself?  What are your plans for next year?  What do you want to be doing a year from now?

Here is Gary Zukav discussing change.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Joye Moon

"Every day is a gift — a new beginning . . . bound out of bed with the enthusiasm of a child."

American Painter

How do you begin your day?  With a cup of coffee?  A cold beer?  With steak and eggs?  Or a doughnut?  Do you drag yourself out of bed wishing you could spend the day sleeping?  Are you wide awake and full of energy?  Some people get up in the morning and say:  "Good morning, Lord.  It is great to be alive!"  Other people get up and say: "O Lord, it's morning again."  Which are you?  Someone who appreciates each day she has been given?  Or someone who finds no joy in living?  How you begin your day can have a positive or negative impact on your creative work. 

Do you begin your day with meditation?  Or prayer?  Do you take a walk?  Or lift weights? Do you eat a healthy breakfast or do you skip the most important meal of the day?  Be thankful for every day you wake up.  The alternative to waking up is being six feet under.  Celebrate the day and give thanks for all you have been given.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

George C. Scott

"The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it."

American Actor
1927 - 1999

The world usually has its fair share of doomsayers who predict the end of civilization as we know it.  Like Chicken Little, they are constantly claiming the sky is falling.  But what few people consider is how strong the human spirit is.  No matter what is thrown at us, we pick ourselves up and keep going.

I don't care what kind of challenges you are currently facing in your life.  I don't care what has happened to you in the past.  The difference between the winners and the losers is that the winners pick themselves up and keep going.  You are stronger than anything that has happened to you.  You can overcome any difficulty or challenge you are currently facing.  You are a winner.  Believe in yourself.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Louis Armstrong

"My whole life, my whole soul, my whole spirit is to blow that horn."

American Musician
1901 - 1971

Do you put all of yourself into your art or do you hold a part of yourself back?  The more you give of yourself, the more powerful your art becomes.  Painting and writing are not nine-to-five jobs.  You must be involved in your art 24/7.   Every conversation and every book you read impacts your creative expression.  Every broken relationship and every love affair affects the art you create.  So are you blowing your horn with your body and soul?  Are you giving everything you have?

Listen to Satchmo sing "What A Wonderful World" and enjoy the photos.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Howard Aiken

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas.  If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."

American Professor/Computer Engineer
1900 - 1973

Writers sometimes worry about someone stealing their ideas or their work.  And while this may happen from time to time, it is not as prevalent as people might think.  In fact, truly original ideas are almost never stolen because nobody believes in them.  Today the Impressionists painters are celebrated throughout the world, but in their day there were considered failed artists.  Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime and that was to his brother.

Today the light bulb is taken for granted, but in the late 1800's most people would have thought you were crazy if you told them that you came from a world lighted by electricity and light bulbs.  In fact, Thomas Edison originally developed the light bulb to light baseball fields. 

Howard Aiken knows of what he speaks.  He was the conceptual designer in 1944 behind the Mark I computer originally called the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator.  Think about what it would take to sell the concept of a computer when it had not even been invented.  Nobody would steal the idea.  You would have to ram it down their throats.

What truly original ideas do you have?  Don't worry if nobody believes your idea will work.  That only means it must be original and only you can bring the idea to life.  Don't live in fear of someone stealing your ideas.  Live in fear that you will not give birth to an original idea.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Marcel Proust

"Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."

French Novelist
1871 - 1922

In this holiday season when families come together in fellowship, friends share toasts of happiness, and lovers make vows of eternal love, we should be grateful and give thanks for all we have been given.  If you don't have someone this holiday season, I encourage you to reach out.  Don't hide in the attic, or the basement or the closet.  Make new friends.  Choose new directions.  How you spend this season of joy is your choice.  Celebrate what you have been given.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Placido Domingo

"I hope I have given back half the joy music has given me."

Spanish Musician
1941 -

Does your creative work give you joy?  When you have completed a session of painting or writing, do you feel good?  I think it is a privilege to be a creative leader.  Our work brings us so much happiness and joy.  Celebrate your work.  And remember that creativity is about giving back a little joy to others.

Listen to Domingo sing.  You can feel the emotion even if you don't understand the words.

Friday, December 23, 2011

John Keats

"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart's affections and the truth of imagination."

English Poet
1795 - 1821

One of the most powerful forces available to creative leaders is their imagination.  Your imagination will open up new worlds and provide you answers to many of the challenges you face in your creative work.  You must learn to cultivate your imagination.  You must nurture it and feed it.  Imagination grows through exposure to various ideas and various experiences.  

Steve Jobs, after dropping out of college, audited a course on calligraphy because he was interested in the subject.  What he learned in that single course gave rise more than a decade later to the multiple fonts available on the Mac computer.  And since Windows adopted much of its style and look from Mac, the computer world was given an array of fonts from which to choose.  How much different life would have been if computer users could not change fonts.

What are you doing to expand your imagination?  What ideas are you exposing yourself to?  How are you growing your imagination.  If you don't use it, you may lose it.  Feed your imagination today.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Diane Arenberg

"Being true to yourself is what feeds creativity, not self-doubt and criticism."

American Artist

First Light
Over the eight years that I have watched American Idol, one of the most common comments from the judges involved being true to oneself.  Young artists are often encouraged to be themselves, but many spend years imitating someone they love.  At some point you must step beyond your mentors and show the world the artist you are.  

Don't paint what others want you to paint.  Don't write novels that you think will sell.  Paint and write what you want whether it sells or not.  Someday the world will catch up with you.  You are probably ahead of your time.  Remember to be true to yourself.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Emile Zola

"The artist is nothing without a gift, but the gift is nothing without work."

— Emile Zola
French Writer
1840 -1902

Many have wasted the gifts they have been given.  Some will go a lifetime and never realize the gifts they have been given.  A gift by and of itself is not enough.  Even the gifted have to work to perfect their art.  One cannot get by on just the gift.  Hours of work and preparation are needed to create the masterpiece that will live for centuries in the hearts of others.  Often those without a gift can produce great work if they work hard.  When I was in college the question on the mind of every want-to-be artist and writer was: "Do I have talent?  Am I gifted?"  We sought the answer in the words of our professors.  Unfortunately, they often could not predict who had the gift and who was willing to work hard enough to perfect their craft.  Nobody else can answer the question for you.  Only you can answer the questions:  Do you have the talent?  Are you willing to work hard to perfect that talent?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tom Robbins

"When they tell you to grow up, they mean stop growing."

American Novelist
1936 - 

Adults can be so mean to kids without even knowing it.  And sometimes they will stifle creativity. Be aware of what you say to others.  Whose light are you extinguishing with your words and actions?  We don't mean to hurt those we love but often we do.  This holiday season take stock of your words and actions.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Samuel Butler

"Life is like music, it must be composed by ear, feeling and instinct, not by rule."

English Novelist
1835 - 1902

Do you create by following rules?  Or do you create by ear, feeling and instinct?  I believe the best artists, writers and musicians create by their gut — ear, feeling and instinct.  The best creative leaders know the rules but also know when and where to break the rules or throw them out the window.  When the rules are telling you one thing and your gut is telling you another, follow your gut.  You will be the better artist for it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Richard Wilbur

"All that we do
Is touched with ocean, yet we  remain
On the shore of what we know."

— Richard Wilbur
American Poet
1921 - 

There is a vast world of knowledge and wisdom that we know little or nothing about.  We choose to live our lives on the shore of what we have learned.  We judge everything in light of what we think we know and seldom venture out of our safe haven.  Try to see  the world from new angles.  Explore the unknown and come away a better person because of it.  Change who you are by increasing your knowledge and wisdom.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Roger Fry

"Art is a passion or it is nothing."

English Artist
1866 - 1934

Are you passionate about your creative work?  Do you love what you do?  If you are not passionate about your work, then I suggest you look for another line of work.  Creative leaders need to be passionate about what they do.  There are plenty of naysayers in your way who will keep you from succeeding if you are not passionate.  Passion is one of the key ingredients to your success. 

River with Poplars

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jim Rohn

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment."

American Author, Motivational Speaker
1930 - 2009

We all have dreams and goals but many of us never achieve them because we have not mastered the art of self-discipline.  I define self-discipline as sacrificing short-term pleasure for the achievement of long-term goals.  If you want to be a novelist but you never seem to find the time to write, you will never write your novel.  If you want to be a painter but spend your time partying with friends and not painting, you may never produce any great paintings.  The arts require a lot of self-discipline.  We need to be able to sacrifice the pleasure of the moment for the achievement of long-term success.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ethel Barrymore

"You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself."

American Actress
1879 - 1959

Many of us take ourselves too seriously.  We need to learn to laugh at ourselves.  We all make mistakes.  We all screw-up.  When we learn to laugh at our mistakes, we begin to heal the pain.  None of us are perfect, even those of us who try to be.  For years perfection has been one of my goals whether I was speaking or writing and I have had to learn a hard lesson that it is okay to make a mistake.  I have had to learn to relax and to laugh at myself.  In fact, mistakes make us better people, more human.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mark Twain

"A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it."

American Writer
1835 - 1910

Do you tell everything in your stories or do you leave somethings to the readers imagination?  The best writing does not tell everything.  The best writing allows the readers to read between the lines.  The same is true of art.  A painting shouldn't tell everything.  Some things should be left to the imagination.  What are you leaving out of your creative work?  Do you know what should and what should not be left out?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Otto Dix

"Everybody thinks they know what art should be.  But very few of them have the sense that is necessary to experience painting, that is the sense of sight, that sees colors and forms as living reality in the picture."

German Painter
1891 - 1969

I am fascinated by the artist's ability to see the world in terms of shapes and colors.  It is like having a second sight.  What is even more remarkable is that the artist is then able to reproduce on canvas what his mind sees.  For a writer, the equivalent may be his ability to hear words and how they flow together to form a story.  Or maybe there is no equivalent.  How do you see the world?  Through the eyes of an artist?  Or through the eyes of a writer?  Can you see shapes and colors when you look at the world?  Do you hear the words in your mind as you put them on paper?

Parents of the Artist

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stanley Spencer

"I love to dwell on the thought that the artist is next in divinity to the saint.  He, like the saint, performs miracles."

English Painter
1891 - 1959

Do you perform miracles with your art?  I think creativity is a miracle of the highest order — to be able to create something that previously did not exist.  Creative leaders are rare people who generate new worlds and variations on existing worlds.  Creativity is composed of spiritual energy.  Every time we put brush to canvas or pen to paper, spiritual energy flows through us.  We are in touch with a power greater than ourselves.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


"When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.  Give thanks for your food and the joy of living.  If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself."

Shawnee Chief
(1768 - 1813)

This week someone in one of my audiences expressed concern about all the negativity we hear  in our society.  She was concerned about the future.  And it is easy to see why she feels that way.  We live in a time when many of our leaders gravitate towards the negative.  Turn on any news channel and all you hear are negative stories and even worse — negative opinions.  Much of what passes for news today is actually opinion.  Read any newspaper and your heart fills with dread.  It takes a lot to remain positive and thankful in this negative world.  And yet thankful we must be for we are still alive.  Thankful we must be for we woke to see the sun again.  So give thanks every day this week that you have been given another day to write a poem, paint a picture or write a story.  No one knows if he will wake up tomorrow morning.  Be thankful that you can see another sunrise.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stanley Kubrick

"The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning."

— Stanley Kubrick
American Filmmaker
1928 - 1999

Do you sometimes feel that life is meaningless?  Do you ever wonder why you have been born into this world?  Do you know what your purpose for being is?  The creation of artistic work is one way that we can find meaning in our lives.  We can find hope and meaning in our writing, painting and storytelling.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rudyard Kipling

"I always prefer to believe the best of everyone; it saves so much trouble."

— Rudyard Kipling
English Writer
1865 - 1936

Do you look for the good in others?  Or are you a fault finder?  Do you point out the weaknesses of others?  Or do you pay them compliments?  Do you believe in people or do you think that everyone is out for himself?  How we view others impacts how we live our lives.  If we learn to find the good in others, we will be happier and more successful.  If we spend our lives finding fault with others, we will be unhappy and cyncial.  The easiest thing to do is to find fault in others.  It is much harder to look for the good.  Sometimes we have to dig deep.  So spend the day looking for the good in the people you meet.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jim Henson

"My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here."

— Jim Henson
American Puppeteer
1936 - 1990

Everyone should desire to leave the world better than they found it.  For me that is why we are here.  We are here to help others in their time of need.  How are you leaving the world better than you found it?  Did you plant a tree?  Give someone a ride?  Write a story that made someone cry?  Paint a picture that touched someone's heart?  We will all reach the end of the road some day.  What is your legacy?  How will you leave the world a better place?  What gifts have you given back?  Did you make someone smile today?  Did you give someone a hug?  Did you listen to someone who needed to get something off her chest?  Did you say thank you to your parents, your mentors and your friends?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thomas Carlyle

"A strong mind always hopes, and has always cause to hope."

— Thomas Carlyle
Scottish Writer
1795 - 1881

Hope is a crucial ingredient to leading the creative life.  Without hope we have no reason for living.  There is little meaning to life.  Hope is the breath of life.  Breathe deeply and you will live a much happier life.  In these troubled economic times it is easy to become discouraged.  Read some history and you will learn that this too shall pass.  Nothing stays the same; everything will change.  In the 1970's with the emergence of a united OPEC, gas prices soared higher than they are today if you take inflation into account.  We lived through a period of years of high inflation with interest rates running in the teens.  Today you can get a mortgage interest rate of under 4%.  This too shall pass.   Have hope.  Believe in your future and the world's future.  Read the history of the Great Depression and/or the novel, The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck and be grateful that you are living in these times.  Cultivate an attitude of hope.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Anais Nin

"Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country."

— Anais Nin
French Writer
1903 - 1977

Dreaming is an important technique for creative leaders to master.  We need to master both our sleeping dreams and our waking dreams.  Our dreams have so much to teach us about ourselves.  Your sleeping dreams have a number of origins.  Some of these dreams come from the events of the current day, things that happened to us.  Our minds are reliving the day.  Some dreams come from the problems and challenges that we are facing.  If we learn to interpret these dreams, we can often solve our problems.  Other dreams come from our future and often will predict things that will happen to us.  And still other dreams will have a spiritual source.  Do you study your dreams?  Do you keep a dream journal?  Success comes from mastering the art of dreaming.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Margaret Atwood

"Writing is an act of faith: I believe it's also an act of hope, the hope that things can get better than they are."

— Margaret Atwood
Canadian Writer
1939 - 

Does your creative work give you hope?  Does your painting give you hope that your life will improve?  Does your writing give you hope about the progress of the human race?  I believe creative leaders have to have lots of hope.  Why else would they struggle for years with no prospect of success?  Every time a writer sends his short stories, poetry and novels to a publisher he is full of hope that this time it will be accepted.  A painter may paint for years and never sell a painting, always hoping that the next one will sell.  Never give up.  There is always tomorrow.  Have faith.  You will succeed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Eileen Goudge

"I will always have a story to tell.  I take elements from my life and throw them in a pot and stir the pot and see what happens."

American Novelist
1950 -

We all have a story to tell, but we do not have to tell it through memoir.  We can tell it through short stories, novels, songs and even paintings.  What we have to learn to do is learn how to change our story.  The story does not have to be factual.  Our story is only the beginning — the starting point.  The emotion should be true, but not the facts.  We may have been born in a small town in Illinois, but we can change it to a coastal town in Oregon.  Our grandfather could have died when we were fourteen, but we can change it to our father when we were ten.  We should take elements from our lives and make story soup.  For some of us changing the story is easy.  For others, it takes patience, imagination and hard work.

Here is Eileen Goudge talking about how she wrote her way out of poverty.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Robert Persig

"Finally you understand that the real motorcycle you're working on is yourself."

— Robert Pirsig
American Author
1928 - 

In the final analysis, life is about growth and self-development.  We become who we are meant to be through our work.  In essence we are working on ourselves.  Everything else is a tool to help us become who we are meant to be.  Whether you paint, write or speak, you are involved in a process of self-development.  Are you learning the lessons that you are supposed to learn?  Or are you having to suffer through the same experiences over and over.  One of the best examples is the relationships that people develop.  How many women or men choose the same type of partner over and over again only to be hurt and rejected in the end?  Remember the person you are working on is yourself.  The only person you can change is yourself.  

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance took Pirsig four years to write and was rejected by 121 publishers before it found a home.  Because Pirsig had a day job writing computer manuals, he wrote the book between 2 am and 6 am.  More than 5 million copies of the book have been sold.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Louise Bourgeois

"It is a great privilege to be able to work with, and I suppose work off, my feelings through sculpture."

French Artist
1911 - 2010


I want to take this one step farther.  I believe that it is a privilege to be an artist.  What we do as writers, storytellers, painters, actors, sculptors and musicians is very special.  Most people are not willing to risk themselves or make themselves vulnerable as artists must if they are to be successful.  We must open ourselves up and reveal our innermost feelings if we are going to touch others with our creative work.  That does not mean that we have the answers.  In fact, many creative people live difficult painful lives and often emotionally harm the people they love.  If we are lucky, our creative work will heal our wounded spirits.  But if we don't heal our wounds, people will be confused by the multiple personalities within one body.  They will not understand how a mean-spirited drunk could write such lovely prose or paint such a beautiful picture.  For some of us, our creative work heals us and we are stronger for it.  For others, the creative work destroys them.  They give up their lives for their art.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

John Burroughs

"The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are."

American Writer, Naturalist
1837 - 1921

The grass is not greener somewhere else.  We need to build our life where we are at.  If we live in a farming community, we are attracted to the sounds of the big city.  If we live in a big city, we seek peace and quiet in the country.  The pied piper is singing and we will follow him anywhere.  Don't be taken in by the flash and glammor of somewhere else.  Find comfort in the familiar because there you will do your best work.  If you live near a cornfield, paint cornfields.  If you live near mountains, paint mountains.