The most common term business professionals use to describe their relationship with art is “well-rounded”. It’s the same with our kids. We seem to think that poems, paintings and songs are there to add a little something extra around the edges of our existence, rounding us out. We think art is nice, not critical. When looking to improve ourselves or estimate the value of others, artistic taste and ability is not a core criteria, it’s a tie-breaker.
The truth is that art doesn’t round us out, it sharpens us. Great artists are among the most effective communicators on the planet, and we can all sharpen our business skill set by consuming and creating art. Here’s how:
- Power: There are concertos that bring people to their knees and thrash metal songs that help powerlifters bench press over 500 pounds. Films and novels routinely alter people’s emotions as well, making them more capable than they were before. When you consume art, you become a better human and you get better at what you do professionally. Applying art to your work has the same effect on your audience: if your work is artistic it is powerful. Instead of fidgeting and thinking about lunch during your presentation, your audience will be moved to action.
- Efficiency: Art is different from science because it doesn’t spell everything out for you. It provides a framework and is abstract. Yet art isn’t any less complete in communication. One song can tell the entire story of a relationship, one painting can convey the disposition and emotions of a nation during war. The amount of information that can be conveyed in such a small amount of space is magical because it is ultra-efficient. In the presentations and narratives you create, saying a lot in a small amount of space works beautifully because everyone gets it. You create a vision for them. If you are trying to transmit a complex idea with words or a PowerPoint, ask yourself how you can make it more artistic.
- Inspiration: All humans are thinkers, but what we are attracted to consuming and how we use information to create things is quite diverse. Art is effective in inspiring people to develop ideas and produce their own output because it is not a literal medium. Any given work of art enables its audience to draw parallels to their own lives and work. If you aren’t consuming much art, chances are you don’t have many innovative ideas either; trade journals are only going to foster so much creativity. Adding figurative elements to your work will inspire others to create as well, something that is critical for leading a diverse team.