Ezine Header

2006: Issue 22

The Artist Within

Some of my most poignant childhood memories of elementary school revolve around art — not necessarily art class but opportunities to demonstrate my artistic talent. What artistic talent?  I had none.  Doing a book report – no problem.  Doing a cover for it illustrating my favorite scene — major anguish; considerable effort only to receive a low grade.  Ugh.  I was embarrassed by my attempts, and the fact that my best friend’s talents were exceptional made it even worse.  There was absolutely no artist within me.   

Roll the clock forward thirty years and my drawing skills continue to be poor.  But thanks to some great mentors and teachers along the way, I now realize this does not mean I am not an artist or am not creative.  Truth is I have artistic and creative talents; just like each of you.  I just express them on a different canvas. 

According to Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind, evolving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age requires us to tap into our creative and artistic talents, actively engaging our right brain to work in concert with our left brain.  Tapping into them simply requires intentional efforts to exercise our right brain to make it is as strong as our traditionally dominant left brain.

Design. Story. Symphony.  The first three “high-concept, high-touch senses” Pink contends we need to develop “a whole new mind”.   

Design.  It is all around us, and an integral part of our daily lives.  It is about creating solutions; thus, problem solving.  Good design makes our life better; simpler; easier and more enjoyable. Design is often the distinguishing factor that draws us to one cell phone over another or one house over another or one automobile; etc. A patient gown that’s design considers his modesty will positively enhance his hospital experience. Attending to the design of your environment sharpens your eye, inspires your mind, and enhances your performance. 

Story.  For thousands of years, it was the primary mode for handing down history through many generations.  It is through story that we get to know real life and fictional characters.  Story exists where “high concept and high touch intersect.” (Pink)  It is how we understand the relationship of the “fact(s)” to our lives as the story provides the context; it incorporates emotion, and enhances our understanding.  In making “show me the facts” the mantra in today’s typical business world, we have diminished the power and importance of story. 

Symphony.  The horns. The strings. The percussions.  Each stands alone, in its uniqueness.  And each has its place and role in performing a symphony.  Symphony, according to Pink, is “the ability to put together the pieces.  To synthesize rather than to analyze; to see relationships between seemingly unrelated fields; and to invent something new by combining elements nobody else thought to pair.”  It is about relationships; about crossing boundaries; about collaboration and blending; and about suspending judgment to see possibilities.  It is about “and”, not “but”.      

In addition to being aptitudes which engage our right brain, these three senses: design; story; symphony are also about exploring….new possibilities; ideas; thoughts; perceptions; territories; and doing so with a willingness to learn and to value the unknown, suspending our tendency to attach immediate judgment. 

I have had the opportunity to work with several adults who are survivors of acquired brain injuries (ABI), and attribute my experiences with them to sparking my curiosity about the brain.  One has traditional artistic talents along with a significantly limited field of vision as result of his ABI.  By engaging his right brain he has discovered ways for this potential “deficit” to be a strength when creating his art work.  With each piece, there is an initial design; there is a story to accompany the picture; and there is symphony in the way he brings the pieces together figuratively and literally for his eyes only see one small piece at a time.        

Developing your R directed thinking takes exercising your right brain. Of the following ideas, pick three to do to begin honing your artist within.

Tell a story….to your child at bedtime; to your staff when explaining to them a new policy; to your client when presenting to them a new idea or concept.   

Create an inspiration board….identifying elements that you want in your life.

Listen to symphonies…..nature is playing a great one right now.

Allow brainstorming…replacing “but” with “and” as new ideas and thoughts are presented.

Read….flip through magazines attending to only the pictures; as you read a book, stop periodically to visualize what you have just read.


Founded in 2003 and based in Roanoke, Virginia, Extra Ordinary Living works with individuals, organizations and teams to identify possibilities, create opportunities, remove obstacles and through deliberate action, optimize results.

Usually the first question we are asked, is why Tiberius? Our trivia friends can often identify the references……yes, Tiberius was the 2nd Roman emperor, and yes, Tiberius is the middle name of James T. Kirk from Star Trek. One of our life mottos and business principles is “to learn from the past, look to the future while living in the present.” Thus, Extra Ordinary Living.

As Professional Coaches, we are trained to listen, to observe and to customize our approach to our clients needs.  We provide tools, support, structure and accountability to help our clients unleash their full potential and optimize results.  The best thing about coaching is it is all about you – the client, and what you want.  We may share our opinions and give you advice, but it is up to you to pick and choose what you want to accept.  We suspend judgment and will support you in your decisions. 

As Professional Speakers, our messages are inspirational while imparting useful, practical and memorable information in a fun and dynamic way to help our audiences live  extra ordinary lives.  

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
– Joseph Campbell

Janet Crawford, MHA, MBA
Professional Certified Coach

A publication of Extra Ordinary Living,  Extra Ordinary Living is written for aspiring individuals striving to make a difference, and wanting to explore, experience and excel in all aspects of their life.

“Asking “Why?” can lead to understanding. Asking “Why not?” can lead to breakthroughs.

“The most creative among us see relationships the rest of us never notice.”

– Daniel Pink


On November 15, Janet will be presenting at the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Meeting, Using your Tools with Maximum Efficiency: Measuring Time, Tasks & Talent and Making the Pieces Fit.