Work Like an Artist - a legitimate argument for re-structuring your time

Artist So, here’s the big idea: We need to work like artists; and not classic “workers”. I know what you’re thinking, “but LoDuca you’re in "creative services." You go to the theatre and eat sushi. You like that crap. And so it’s not such a stretch to think like an artist”…but bear with me, this idea is germane to all of you reading this on one level or another. Black turtleneck optional.

For most of us over twenty years old, we were raised in a decidedly industrial era. The twentieth century was a watershed for changes in lifestyle and work-style for American workers. The sheer enormity of the movement forever changed the fabric of social and work-life for generations and left deeply ingrained beliefs about work and our relationships to it.

As it relates to the use of time, this shift left its mark for many, many years.

Fast forward to today. And so here we are in a totally different paradigm in so many regards. And for entrepreneurs it’s even more pronounced. We have so many options for how we work, where we work and when. Not to mention why! We have access to technology that makes geography irrelevant and challenges most of the rules of business from the previous century. However, we adhere to many of those old rules, especially how we use our time.

My father came over to the US on a boat from Rome when he was a kid and could barely read and write English. They were broke. He became an entrepreneur when he bought the pizza restaurant he’d managed at seventeen and opened four more before he was twenty-one. Then he built a construction firm and added a cabinet shop. And then he started a horse breeding farm. Then he started developing properties. And in the meanwhile he was a classically trained opera singer having gotten his degree in music from the Detroit Conservatory of Music. A busy guy. And so no big surprise, he was up at 4:30 am and home at 8 pm for years working a six and often seven-day work weeks. My father knew how to put in a good day’s work and he ingrained in me a solid respect and value for it. It was that old twentieth-century logic though of slogging it out, day in and day out…a treacherous deal he had made with Father Time.

Consider the logic of the following: What I do and what you do isn’t all that very different. The quality of the work and the quality of the experience we create is predicated on a lot more than just the talent of the technicians behind the scenes. We don’t, as you’ve often heard me say, “just make brochures over here” and the same applies to you. If it's a life insurance policy, CPA services, a financial plan or an airplane - if you are selling a service or a product you're smart enough by now to know you're really selling something else of greater importance. As I see it, the most valuable resources I have to bring to my clients are my creativity, my passion, my insight, instinct and accountability to the project’s overall success. Me grinding out the hours every day, one client after the other like a factory worker doesn’t support the delivery of uncommon experiences and transformational results that we pursue.

Instead of being a line-worker at Ford where consistency and endurance are more prized than bursts of innovation and creativity, I find that I absolutely must protect myself and my “artist-like” contribution to the overall equation. It sure sounds cheesy, but it’s a requisite shift in thinking in how I create the most value for my clients, my team, my family and my self. I need to hit it hard and then go to the mountain for a while. I need to rest, pull away and “veg out” to fill the tank. The taxing demands of a day-to-day grind are incongruent with the demands of a performer/creator and so should then be the practices.

So how to do it? Book time off in advance. Sleep in once in a while. Tune out from the wall of media we have access to all the time. Go on a news and cell phone blackout for 48hrs. And get over the guilty feelings about surrendering the helm every once in a while to protect your own leadership capabilities.