Leadership

The Athlete, Entrepreneur & Artist

I was fortunate to spend a few days at the beach last week as a guest of an old friend, serial entrepreneur and generous host.  Other guests included a professional athlete turned business pro and a professional artist.  The climate for interesting conversation was palpable.

What I recognized after a couple days of deep dive dialogue is that despite the diversity in what everyone was doing, the similarities in attitude and approach were evident.  What they shared in common was finding a way to make a living doing work they love.

I spent a good part of those couple days asking questions, listening and learning. During our conversations 3 themes about work emerged:

Reinvention:  The world is changing.  Fast. You have to change with it.  It is important to have a plan.  Recognize that your plan will change.  What you are working on and how you are working will likely be completely different in a few years.  When that isn’t the case we stop growing, learning, evolving and getting better.  Stuck is no way to spend any significant amount of time. The athlete is now an entrepreneur.  The artist was many things (Magician, Writer, Wall Street Trader) before he was ever an artist.  The entrepreneur has changed his business model 20 times.  They are each activists.  How is your transition game?

Passion:  The idea of dreaming big and doing work worth doing was a shared understanding.  In fact, it was almost a forgone conclusion. It is hard to be great at something you don’t love.  Sure, the critic will tell you to stop dreaming.  You aren’t good enough.  Your pursuits are frivolous. The work of the critic and heckler is easy, lazy work. The work of the doer takes a healthy dose of passion.  The good news is passion doesn’t have limits.  It extends.  It carries over.  It is contagious.  This group embraced an attitude of abundance that included helping others.  Giving. Sharing.  Making a difference.  Sure, they each found a way to turn their passion into a paycheck.  But it certainly didn’t stop there.  They all found a way to turn their passion into a larger purpose.  Whether conscious or not, it is how they live life.

Resolve: You have to make art.  Daily.  It often comes down to a simple willingness to Do The Work (a great read for the passion players). Passion doesn’t imply perfection. It takes hard effort.  Big sacrifice.  You have to step up to the opportunities.  Compete.  I considered how much better this blog would be, how much better a writer I could be, if I had the discipline to write everyday?  The answer is much, much better.   It also takes a healthy amount of resolve to move through the inevitable adversity, setbacks, challenges and change that will be part of the journey.  They had resolve in spades.  They leaned into challenges. The hard parts seemingly offered no deterrent.  They all resigned to the fact that a worthwhile accomplishment doesn’t come easy.  They wake up ready to pass the next test and exude the confidence and inner strength to keep making forward progress.  I thought they made it look easy.  That is just the end result.  Nothing about getting there is easy at all.

The athlete still plays for the love of the game (I couldn’t get a shot off).  The artist still knows a good card trick (how did he do that?!).  The entrepreneur is a master of relationships and putting people together to make meaningful connections simply because it is fun to do. (I am grateful).  The lesson?

Follow your passion.  Make your art.  It is never too late.  Turn it into a paycheck.  Don’t.  It doesn’t matter.  If it is work worth doing…Just Do It.