June 22

500 Years of Excellence or a Momentary Flash in the Pan: What’s Your Canvas?

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Dr. Jason Carthen: What’s Your Canvas?

Some of the greatest artists and sculptors of our time did not simply begin painting or sculpting on a whim…on the contrary, they began with the end in mind. In fact, they selected their canvas or their backdrop before creating a masterpiece.

Select Your Canvas

You see, the canvas served as the foundation for the art’s creation and it had to be researched, tested and found approved before going forward. If the canvas was found lacking, blemished or unsustainable, it was discarded. It is said that Michaelangelo studied scripture (Old Testament) before he would even consider undertaking the creation of the Sistine Chapel and as he created the visual masterpiece, he studied the biblical record for inspiration on a daily basis. However, before all of that could take place, he meticulously went around the chapel and studied the contours, ridges, high points and problem areas to determine if the canvas was ready for his artwork.

Canvas Represent Artist’s Proficiency

For many artists, their canvas represented their proficiency, dedication and comfort level, whether it was painting on wet plaster (Frescoe) preferred by Michaelangelo or the use of oil paintings by Monet, an artist’s canvas had to be well thought out in order to handle the artist or sculptors style or manner of creation.How does this tie into the idea of leading well or following with a purpose? Actually, it informs our focus point quite a bit today.

Importance of Your Canvas

As leaders, I want to share the importance of your canvas and why it is crucial for short-term and potentially long-term success. Many of my clients will share with me they have not engaged in the proper planning that is needed in order for succesful execution to take place. For that reason, when I ask them to mind-map their initiatives and then assign a goal to each one for it’s completion, it is like a strange concept in their normal creation steps. Just like the artist’s of old, we too must prepare our canvas’ to experience the fullness of completion and the inner joy that comes from a job well done!

Take Mind-Mapping

Take mind-mapping for example, introduced in the early 1970’s it was utilized largely in the education and psychology fields. However, for leaders and followers, this practice provides an excellent means to prepare your canvas and develop your abilities as a critical thinker. One of the key components and benefits of mind-mapping is the focus on one specific word, concept or problem that generates brainstorming for a solution or the development of an idea to spur you forward. This focus allows you to think deeply about a situation, problem or goal in order to address it, solve it, or to create contingency models when interacting with it.

Mind-mapping creates better interaction with your canvas and allows you to see everything before tackling the larger situation as a leader or follower. Granted, while we may not be painting the Sistine chapel over 500 years ago, we are creating masterpieces in our own workspace or in our lives today. Let’s create something beautiful and something we can be proud of on a consistent basis.

Please leave a comment or post on my Facebook Page and share with our community what you consistently do to prepare your canvas for success. I appreciate each of you!


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