Fred knew how to make work art. He was an artist whose personal gifts extended beyond the canvas or clay. He changed the people around him.
An artist is typically defined as someone skilled at their craft – a painter, poet, songwriter, singer, sculptor, or novelist.
Fred was well-trained and skilled in graphic design. After earning his degree from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Fred established a business in Philadelphia. His clients appreciated the creative, high-quality logos, posters, brochures, and other items he produced for them. By definition that made him an artist.
But my brother was also an artist because of how he interacted with everyone he met in the short time he was given on this earth. He loved life and passionately lived it.
He paid attention to his young nieces and only nephew (my son) at every family gathering by engaging them in play and encouraging their talents. Fred didn’t crave approval or strive for perfection. He shared his authentic self with everyone, knowing some people probably wouldn’t understand.
I doubt there are many leaders who view their work as creating art. We probably don’t show up at our desks with a paintbrush, a stack of sketchpads, or a lump of pottery clay.
Yet, there is an art to answering the phone, solving problems, and chairing meetings. Leaders can change how people feel about themselves. They can transform how the company treats everyone.
A leader’s work can be insightful or bold, imaginative or brave. We can generously share of ourselves and our gifts with others.
Fred had a special way of approaching life and business. The talents he had made him a competent employee and entrepreneur. The materials he created provided a livelihood and earned him a loyal client base.
The person he was made him an artist.
I hope this leadership lesson from my “little brother” will encourage everyone to find the artist within them and be brave enough to let it show.