My original plan for this Podcast was to focus on self promotion, but I read a note on FB the other day that changed my mind about the word I want to discuss this month. As I am sure you already figured out from the title, the word is affirmation. It seems like a nice little word, but it is incredibly powerful especially in its absence.
The note I read this morning was a post by fellow artist Theresa Gaylord from South Carolina. Her comment really hit home to me as an artist. She said and I quote “Being an artist isn’t easy and I’m not talking about the art itself. We open up our emotions, feelings and our minds and hearts constantly whenever composing our work to invite others into our thoughts and soul.” End quote. Affirmation of our work feeds our creative spirits and comes in many forms like “that painting moves me, we would like to have your work in our show or our gallery. Of course, the ultimate affirmation is when the viewer is so moved by the work, they want to own and treasure it. While I believe most artist regardless of medium, produce art because it is an inner drive that needs expression, there is an incredible feeling that comes from having your work affirmed. For those of us who have not yet achieved significant recognition, the affirmations may be few and far between because there are so many incredibly talented artists and we have just not yet found the very special niche that is drawn to what we produce, yet that inner drive keeps us working and even small affirmations boost our spirits.
But inner drive and affirmation are not unique to artists. I have had the opportunity to work with and be around many successful leaders over my career. The best ones do have the inner drive to keep going when the affirmations are non-existent or few and far between and they also know how to affirm others.
What would be possible for you if you had the ability to affirm yourself in times where the affirmations are few and far between or maybe even seem totally nonexistent?
What I want for you is that you develop strategies that will work for you more times than not. Perfection is not a requirement. Here are a few of mine:
• Remind myself to just believe in me and be self-affirming. I don’t mean in an arrogant way, but a self-confident way.
• Tell my wife how I am feeling. She is an amazing encourager.
• Keep a file of notes, emails, awards or anything that is a record of affirmations I received and review them at times where I am feeling a major void of appreciation.
• Have a network of friends who are affirming just by the fact they choose to be my friend or they make me laugh.
• Think back on successes in my work and think about:
o Why was I successful?
o How could that be applied here because I know how to be successful.
• Review my motivations for my chosen work. Why do I really do what I do? Is it just to be recognized, just for the money or is there something bigger or deeper that really drives me internally?
While receiving affirmations from others feels really good, affirming others is even more rewarding. The great leaders I have known are generous, but not phony with recognitions and affirming statements to others.