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Why art does not have to be good

Why art does not have to be good

We live in a world where we are obsessed with doing things ‘the right way’. Probably, no matter where you are, you think you were supposed to get further. I know that there’s a little voice in your head, an echo of your younger self, expecting you to have been “more than this” by now. I know that it seems like you have so far to go, and that’s exactly because you do.

However, no matter what kind of things are you making, it is essential to remember that the only thing that really matters is the making itself. A friend of Vincent van Gogh explained to him the beautiful essence of artistic creation:

What the world thought made little difference. Rembrandt had to paint. Whether he painted well or badly didn’t matter: painting was the stuff that held him together as a man. The chief value of art, Vincent, lies in the expression it gives to the artist. Rembrandt fulfilled what he knew to be his life purpose; that justified him. Even if his work had been worthless, he would have been a thousand times more successful than if he had put down his desire and become the richest man in Amsterdam.

Doesn’t that sound really good to you? The fact that Rembrandt’s work brings joy to the whole world today, is entirely gratuitous. His life was complete and successful when he died, even though he was hounded into his grave. The book of life closed then, and it was a beautifully wrought volume. The quality of his perseverance and loyalty to his idea is what was important, not the quality of his work.

Abraham Maslow also put it clearly: A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.

The people who you admire — or really, the people you should admire — are the ones who have spent decades building a body of work and legacy to outlive them.

They weren’t worried about how good things looked on the surface. They weren’t afraid of side gigs or incurring other people’s judgements. They didn’t expect everything they worked on to be a magnum opus.

They got up each day and they did the work. The key to their success was not rushing to “make it,” but in slowly becoming the people who deserved a lifetime of success.

Don’t feel pressured to rush your own artistic journey. Maybe right now is not the time for the shining highlight reel. Right now is the time for grit. Right now is the time that you stop before you lift the drink and ask what feeling am I trying not to feel right now? Right now is the time that you ask yourself where your interests, skills and current demand intersect, and figure out what you can commit yourself to doing for the rest of your life.

To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.– Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Right now is the time that you figure out what your self-sabotaging habits are and figure out how to change them. Right now is the time that you push yourself, minute by minute and day by day. Now is not the time for glory and completeness. Now is the time for sweat and brutal honesty.

This is the time that you worry more about what you’re learning than what you’re earning. This is the time that you recognize when you’re in a dead-end anything, and this is the time that you turn around before you spend the rest of your life there.

Your dream doesn’t have an expiration date. Take a deep breath and try again. And remember, you are not lost. You are here.

How to get creative

There is no golden rule for creativity, but I deeply believe there are certain things that are absolutely necessary in order to obtain it.

We were born to survive, which is to create.

It is a Sunday morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone vibrates or someone knocks at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my brain. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone.

Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

…You once said that you would like to sit beside me while I write. Listen, in that case I could not write at all. For writing means revealing oneself to excess; that utmost of self-revelation and surrender, in which a human being, when involved with others, would feel the way losing himself, and from which, therefore, he will always shrink as long as he is right in his mind.

That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough.

-Kafka

No one yet has made a list of places where the extraordinary may happen and where it may not. Still, there are indications. Among crowds, in shopping centres, in drawing rooms, among easements and comforts and pleasures, it is seldom seen.

It likes the outdoors. It likes the concentrating mind. It likes solitude. It is more likely to stick to the risk-taker than the ticket-taker. It isn’t that it would disparage comforts or the set routines of the world, but that its concern is directed to another place.

But I always liked side-paths, little dark back-alleys behind the main road — there one finds adventures and surprises, and precious metal in the dirt. – Fyodor Dostoyevski

However, many times the interruption comes not from another but from yourself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone your parents, that you are out of shampoo, that your sister’s birthday is in two weeks. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of the idea have fled back into the mist.

Even when I lock myself at home and it seems like the last word in tranquility and seclusion, I’m tempted to watch a movie, a part of me is considering cleaning the apartment and another part tends to go for a walk.

Creativity is a combination of discipline and a childlike spirit.

I interrupt myself, even if my environment doesn’t interrupt me. And if ever I’m tempted to look at the stars, I think, oh no, there are a thousand things I have to do around the house or around the town. Or if I’m involved in a deep conversation, I think, oh, there is a salsa night tonight. I should do that. So one way or another, I always cut into my own clarity and concentration when I’m at home. That’s why sometimes people like me have to take conscious measures to step into the stillness and silence and be reminded of how it washes us clean, really.

We’re living at the speed of light, at a pace determined by machines and technology, and we’ve lost the ability to live at the speed of life.

Whoever you are, whether you’re a writer struggling to write or somebody going to the office, you know that you’re extracting the meaning only when you’re away from it. I sometimes think we’re living so close to our lives, we can’t make sense of them.

That’s why people like me travel alone to faraway places, or other people meditate or do yoga, or other people go for runs. Each person now has to take a conscious measure to separate herself from the overflow of information and experience just to be able to see things in perspective and understand what is going on in your life, what you really want and need. We have more and more time-saving devices but less and less time.

The only cure for distraction is attentionI go for my solitary travels and I go to the nature where nobody can find me because they are cathedrals of attention. They’re places where people like me can try to learn to slow down and to be present.

As Elizabeth Gilbert wonderfully said, you don’t need anyone’s permission to lead a creative life. However, you surely need your own permission and a healthy dose of effort to do it. But I am more than sure that if you are alive, you are a creative person.

Let inspiration lead you wherever it wants to lead you. Keep in mind that for most of history people just made things, and they didn’t make such a big freaking deal out of it.

We make art because that is what human beings do. I would like to finish with a wonderful quote from Kafka, because I usually start my creative journey with reading, and because I adore Kafka:

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide.A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.

How to get creative
La humanidad es la única cosa que todos tenemos en común

La humanidad es la única cosa que todos tenemos en común

Porque es tan importante sentirse valorado por ser un humano y no solo un profesional? Más al fondo, porque es tan importante (y tan difícil) desarrollar una cultura empresarial sana y humana?

Porque como dice nuestro amigo Peter Drucker, la cultura se come la estrategia para el desayuno. Justamente por eso.

Es fácil? No, nada que importa es fácil. Pero sí que vale la pena. Al menos intentarlo.

Pertenezco a la generación tan curiosamente llamada ‘Millenials’ y una de nuestras características principales es el, también curiosamente llamado, ‘job hopping’. Cambiamos trabajo como zapatos, eso es. Cada seis meses, a lo mejor cada año, nos aburrimos y recogemos nuestras ambiciones y expectativas no cumplidas para hacer la maleta (de menos de 20kg siempre porque Ryanair no deja facturar más) y irnos corriendo. Con las mismas esperanzas de siempre.

Han empeorado entonces los sitios de trabajo y por eso se han vuelto tan insoportables? Creo que no. Lo que ha cambiado somos nosotros. Somos la primera generación en la desesperada búsqueda de su propósito, de su valory su misión en esa tierra, más allá de beneficios económicos. Valoramos estabilidad financiera, pero no es suficiente. Queremos tener impacto, cambiar el mundo, crecer y luchar por algo más grande cada día.

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Nosotros hemos cambiado, pero la mayoridad de empresas no. Por eso tenemos el problema, o al menos ese inconveniente, de que después de 6 meses, lo que consideramos un tiempo suficientemente largo para haber impactado nuestro entorno de una manera revolucionaria, nos vamos. A ver qué tal la siguiente.

It doesn’t make sense for millennials to pursue profit during the week and purpose during the weekend. 

He trabajado en unas oficinas abiertas, luminosas, llenas de frutas, organic raw cookies, hípster bebidas y espumadores de leche. Si, he salido corriendo. Porque? Porque muchas de esas oficinas son de todo menos humanas. Se olvidan que las personas son personas, que necesitan conectar uno con otro y que ahora mismo también necesitan ese ‘algo más’. Ese algo más que les permite quedarse con el sentimiento de tener el impacto deseado, de acercarse a sus objetivos individuales.

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La pregunta ya no es cómo atraer el talento, sino, ¿cómo retenerlo? ¿Cómo hacer que los “Millenials” quieran quedarse y aportar su mayor motivación y creatividad?

La única manera de hacerlo es alinear el propósito de la empresa con el propósito individual de sus trabajadores. Mostrar que a parte de ser profesionales, somos humanos, aquí mismo, en esa oficina importa quién somos (sin confundir la pregunta ‘quien eres’ con la de ‘que haces’), importa que pensamos y en que creemos.

La humanidad es algo que todos tenemos en común, da igual de dónde vienes y a dónde vas (y también si no lo tienes claro).