Do you believe in the work you do? Let’s talk about it…

happinessI’m going to ask you a question. I want you to pay attention to your very first, immediate, gut reaction and emotion to the question.  Listen to your thoughts very carefully and identify the first to come into your mind as an answer to the following:  “Do you believe in your organization’s artistic work?” What was your initial reaction to the question? If you said YES! immediately, then congratulations. Your organization is most likely doing in good shape.  But if you questioned, doubted, or outright said NO, then I hope that this series of posts can help you restore confidence in your organization.

The first step you must take is fully embracing the fact that you don’t have the faith or belief in the success of your organization that your should.  Be honest with yourself. After I asked you the question, and you had a negative response, you probably immediately also felt some sense of reasoning, self-assuring that no, your organization was on the right track. It’s likely that you also had some feelings of guilt regarding your response.  When I ask my clients the same question about the organization they are running, or about their personal careers, I often here justification responses like “I feel bad for saying that, I work there!” or “I shouldn’t say that, everyone is trying their best.” Or my favorite, “I may not believe in our effectiveness now, but it’s getting better!” When I dig a little bit deeper, I ask clients to support their justification statement s with facts or proof. How is it getting better? Do you like working there and why? Tell me how everyone is trying their best?  Nine times out of ten, I’m answered with a long thoughtful pause.

So, enough is enough.  In this series of blog posts, we are going to discuss how our dissatisfaction can motivate us to become arts leaders. We are going to turn up our noses at many long-standing traditions that occur in organizations—but we are going to do it in the best interest of those our arts organization serves.  Right from the beginning I want you to do two things with me.

1.  I want you to accept the fact that this process is not about you, your boss, your staff. It is about those you serve. It is about those who experience the artistic work of your organization. It could be your audience in the concert hall; it could be public school children who are taught by your teaching artists. This process is about doing what is best for them and no one else.

2.  You must take all your doubt, apprehensions, and negative feeling you have about your organization’s environment and bring them together. When you feel them together, then you’ll realize that it’s not just negative thoughts anymore, but a strong sense of intuition.  Throughout this process, we are going to learn how to focus our intuitive feelings like a laser beam.  Then we are going to turn that laser beam onto our organizational challenges.  Intuition will guide the process of improvement and adaptation.

Are you with me? Do you want to play an active role in leading your organization toward authentic success? Do you want to cut through the “clutter” that clouds your organization’s mission? But most importantly, do you want to bring better services to your constituency? Your audience? Your tribe? If you do, then stick with me through the next several posts. I’ll help you learn how to do all of those things, and to lead innovation in the arts world.

Stay tuned,


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