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Steal like an artist

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist on Unsplash

Austin Kleon came up with the term "steal like an artist" to emphasise that creative work builds on what came before, and thus nothing is entirely original.

"Nothing is original… all creative work builds on what came before."

Steal = study, credit, remix, mash-up and transform, not rip off, plagiarise!

I put it out there that leadership is similar. Very little, is genuinely new. Consultants and authors will do a standup job rebranding the old as that is their job. Their goal is to entice people to buy something shiny and new, something different: "authentic", "inclusive", "mindful" are a few examples of labels put on leadership but they aren't new.

Do these two things to steal like an artist and learn from the best leaders:

1 - Look to learn continuously

This often requires a mindset change. No one else will care as much about your skills and career than you will. Take ownership. Put yourself in new positions and situations to learn new things. If you aren't continuously learning new skills, then you are falling behind.

2 - Observe leaders in action

Whether it is them talking to people, giving a presentation, running meetings or solving issues. What makes them different or unique? Imitate them, taking the traits and actions that you identify as working and being mindful of those that don't — experiment, iterate and practice.

"Practice being bad until you are good."

- Seth Godin (Author, and teacher)


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