Friday, April 5, 2013

Art notes: watercolors, a deep way of seeing


Watercolors are one of my favorite artistic media. I used to think of watercolor painting as weak and washed out. Then I encountered the work of Gail Gage, Winslow Homer, Vivian Swift, Mary Whyte, Andrew Wyeth and nature journalists and changed my mind.


I enjoy memoirs about the creative process and so I'm looking forwarding to reading Whyte's Down Bowhicket Road: An Artist's Journey and Workings South.


And, of course, any time I can look at watercolors by Homer...


or sleeping dogs....


I'm happy.

How to succeed on the job? Cultivate skills & "craftsperson mindset"


Rules/strategies proposed:
  • 1: "Follow your passion" = bad advice (100) instead:
  • 2: Build career capital (rare/valuable skills) more helpful (100-1)
    • Craftsperson mindset - focus on what you offer/craft-centric vs. productivity-centric (215), e-mail 90mins/day (73)/value impt over urgent
    • Deliberate practice - stretch your abilities/invite feedback
      • Stretch to just beyond current competence (99) via practice-inducing tasks (214)
      • Invite and use feedback
      • Seek "open gates = opportunities already open to build capital (94)
  • 3: Invest career capital (142-3)
    • Control - need capital to back it up, be ready to encounter resistance
    • Resistance - To know when resistance is trying to limit you (vs. warning that you're not yet ready for more control) use the Law of Financial Viability (are people willing to pay for what you offer) (139)
  • 4: Develop/refine mission (196-7)
    • Develop = innovation found in the "adjacent possible" of your field (161, 223)
      • Adjacent possible = just beyond the cutting edge (159)
      • Note: to get to cutting edge, must develop expertise/career capital
    • Refine = To narrow/identify focus of the mission use:
      • "Little bets" (small steps to calibrate way forward) - info from small significant wins allows discovery of unexpected avenues/extraordinary outcomes (179)
        • Small enough to be completed in less than a month (225)
        • Forces you to create new value (new skills, new resources)
        • Produces concrete results that can be used to gather concrete feedback and allows you to explore promising ideas
      • Law of Remarkability: 1) people remark on it and 2) launched in a venue that supports such remarking (193)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Book notes: Growing up outside of the norm


These feelings of not-belonging were positive for me, not negative....I was given such a sense of confidence by my family, in my family [that I] experienced the sense of difference as an honor...  - Denise Levertov



Children are marked by their parents' beliefs and choices. Perhaps nowhere more so than when the parents are at odds with the government, the mainstream, etc. I recall reading that Nelson Mandel felt great sadness at the toll his activism had taken on his children and the children of his colleagues. As someone who grew up proud of the convictions and actions of my parents and aware of the toll it exacted on everyone in the family, I've always been alert to others with similar childhoods.

Just this week I've noticed this echoed by several, now adult, children who grew up amidst their parents' activism and/or their parents being branded the enemy and the repercussions that followed. It includes Nadine Gordimer (anti-Apartheid activism/South Africa), Kati Marton (journalists/Hungary), Alexandra Fuller (white supremacism/Rhodesia) and Tony Kahn (McCarthy Blacklists/USA). And, of course, I know it's true for the children of King, Jr., Evers, Union activists, AIM members and so many throughout the world who pay a price along with their parents. As someone emerging from that experience as well as a therapist, I'm interested in how these children (as youth and adults) perceive and integrate these experiences into who they are and who they wish to become. This interest includes the children of economic immigrants - those who come to the USA without the required papers, women who rarely see their children because they must nurse/nanny in other countries, etc.


Today I came across writer Beverly Naidoo who turned her attention to this topic in her in The Other Side of Truth which explores the impact of a Nigerian's journalist's anti-goivernment writing on his children. Also of interest is her Journey to Jo-burg set in her homeland of South Africa from which she was exiled for many years. Not surprisingly, the book was banned from the country until the collapse of Apartheid. When I retire from having to make money, I'd considering working with children (youth and/or adult) who have had these experiences. Often I find them to be insightful and inspiring people - with a more nuanced experience of belonging, home and family.