What does artist Ann Rea and successful international CEOs all have in common?
Last month The Centered Leadership Institute asked me to speak to a distinguished group of international entrepreneurs at a leadership conference held in Napa at the Domaine Carneros Winery. What leaders understand is that it’s not so much about what you do but why you do it. I have a very keen understanding of why I do what I do. I was called to paint. Yet I resisted painting for a long time. I tried for years to shoe horn myself into a conventional and practical course of life. As I stuffed my creative expression, I was exploding inside. For over seven years I did not paint or draw a single thing. This repressed expression manifested in debilitating anxiety and chronic depression. I was advised that it was not very likely I would ever recover. I refused to accept this diagnosis. In fact, it really pissed me off. I can sum up my former experience of anxiety as a preoccupation with my future and depression a fixation on my past. After an extraordinary encounter that reminded me of my calling to paint, I took up still life painting again as a last ditch effort to still my mind. I chose light as an expression of color as a moving meditative artistic focus. I used thought and breathing techniques I had learned in my Kundalini yoga practice to still my mind while I was painting. My painting began reflecting the stillness in me and it anchored my thoughts. I had no intention of selling or even showing these oil paintings. Painting was simply my art therapy, a refuge from anxiety. An architect, who really did not have a lot of money, began collecting my work. She mentioned that when she retreated to her bedroom with migraine headaches she would stare at my painting. “Why?” I asked. “Because this stills my mind, this makes me feel better.” “Really?” Her experience was remarkable to me. I was inspired like never before. Her experience of my painting was all the validation that I needed to pursue my art. So why do I paint? Why do I want to share my paintings? As an Artist it is to savor the colors of the moment and to share my experience of art. And it is this why that fuels my determination as a CEO to employ Blue Ocean Strategies that will support Ann Rea, Inc. as a profitable creative enterprise. You can read more about my Blue Ocean Strategy in an interview by Marc Acito – a regular commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered”. If your organization is also interested in booking a speaking engagement please contact us.