In the summer of 2012, I paid my first visit Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Fortuitously for me, here I would discover Rashid Johnson’s arresting photographic style along with becoming even more awe struck by the influence of Andy Warhol. And though these artists impacted my consciousness of the importance of art to my life, it was a small easily-overlooked statement from another artist’s work that proved the greatest revelation for me (whom to my shame I cannot recall their name). I’ll paraphrase their work –
I don’t want to be known for my work as an artist, rather my pursuit is that my life is a work of art.
To my reckoning “life as a work of art” is the intention that distinguishes a life of purpose. I believe the artist was saying that the totality of everything we do, how we do it, the mindfulness of our choices is the point and attempting to create meaningful singular pieces of art is the mechanics of achieving this.
The philosophy of the EEn is very much in this vein. The judgment of what’s worthwhile is to be made in the light that life is deemed successful by the sustained endeavor of improving life for others and ourselves.
As I often discuss on my blog, starting is by far the hardest point of the journey. Everyone who has been employed will know how difficult it is to shift an organisation’s culture in a new direction. It’s also much the same for what happens outside of work too in regards to changing other perceptions about what we do.
But it’s called a hijack for a reason! The launching point for the EEn is winning those small battles. The small battles are the behaviours that require less structural change to routines and responsibilities making them the ideal place to start the change process.
I call these Tweaks but perhaps, to be more blunt, we could call it waking-up to everyday opportunity. I’ll outline several techniques/tactics that can be incorporated into each day without causing anyone’s panties to bunch while still being meaningfully enough to adopt. One thing’s for certain, by doing these you’ll see how amazing just 5 to 15mins of purposeful time can be.
The Notebook: Carry a notebook – and no, not the computer type, but the paper-variety. This is definitely not my discovery and I believe I may have in fact stolen this idea from Sir Richard Branson (or least been inspired by). Pen and paper (or in my case pencil) can go where iPads fear to tread (certain places in airports, plane take-off and landing, during meetings, social gatherings, your pocket!).
Research by John Kounios and Mark Jung-Beeman has revealed that creative insight comes in a spark or an “aha moment”. In these moments the part of our brain that excels at drawing together distantly related information, fires and suddenly we have the insight need to unlock complex problems. Sounds simple enough, but the trick is that these insights, which we rely on for creative breakthrough, occur when our brain is relaxed (think 3M’s famous story of how Post-Its were invented). Basically, when we are trying to innovate, insight will come at the least expected moments and probably not when we are focused fully on the problem at hand, but rather when we are not thinking about it at all.
So, rather than let a breakthrough slip through your fingers, keep a pencil behind your ear and a notebook in your purse or satchel. This technique might sound backwards, but for what its worth, the structure of this handbook “came to me” at as soon as my head hit my pillow one night around 11pm (how annoying right!). The only way to capture it was to scribble it down right there and then in a notebook - I keep notebook by my bed for that exact purpose; something I’ve been doing for about 8 years.
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This series of posts is part my project EEn: How to hijack your job, be happily employed, and become an entrepreneur (or die trying) and was inspired by Chris Guillebeau’s The $100 Startup. This series is for people have the entrepreneurial spirit and who still want to work for others (and not negotiate the tricky seas of running a start-up).
If you have a great idea for a product or service that your employer will never do in 1000 years and you want to leave your job to do that instead – go read Chris’ book.