Yesterday I had a phone call from a friend and we spent a lot of time just catching up with news of our jobs, family, and winter plans. Toward the end of our conversation my friend asked for some advice about going back to school and picking up a technology certification to compliment his music education degree and add depth to his resume which already included a MEd. He had been considering this idea over a period of time. It had been incubating for many many months.

As I listened to his voice, the tempo and tone changed. I knew this was something he should do. His conversation became animated with excitement and anticipation of the possibilities. He did not need me to support what I thought about the cost or his time commitment for certification. He was well on his way to beginning coursework. He just not had fully realized it..yet.

We all have those voices that tell us that we should try something different. They come to us during the day when we are quiet or at night when we can not sleep. It is the nagging voice that interrupts concentration. There can be good voices and bad voices but it is the good voices that bring ideas that fill us with excitement and anticipation. Some call this voice either the guiding light, intuition, or having an epiphany.

In my friend’s voice I could also hear him being reinvigorated by the deepening of his expertise for music and technology. He recounted all sorts of possibilities his good voice was visioning. He had listened, listened more and incubated the idea before sharing it with others. He really had made up his mind, sharing it was just a formality.

Following the conversation I reflected on how to stay energized and enthusiastic about working when in a studio. When I was in the classroom I had daily interactions with colleagues who were an inspiration. They kept me excited about the work. As I work in the studio my daily interactions are few and far between.

The phone call reminded me that even though I am more distanced from others I can still practice strategies I used in the teaching profession that fuel enthusiasm and energize me. I can lead my own growth.

To lead growth for ourselves it is important to:

  1. Continue to hold high expectations and a belief that accomplishments can happen. Seek out people who can provide feedback, mentoring, advice.
  2. Interject the exciting, the memorable into the work. Add experiences such as a retreat, a class, a trip with the sketchbook. (even if the trip is to the local farmers market not to the countries near the Aegean Sea)
  3. Be versatile and sensitive. Be true to yourself but remain sensitive to the needs of others. Reach out into the community and use your art to connect with others.
  4. Be curious, confident, and evolving. Learn new ideas from younger artists or others doing what you do but doing it differently. Visit artist websites, read their blogs, attend their exhibitions.
  5. Be imperfectly human.Tell stories of your own life. Admit vulnerability and not knowing.
  6. Emphasize the fun in learning and in life. After hard working days in the studio have a light-hearted fun day in the studio. Play, experiment, rejoice with materials.

We all have different ways we can grow and not become stagnate. Our inner good voice is the start. Listen.