January 30

Finding the Art Within the Marble (or Jade)


In my book, The Four Fundamental  Forces of Leadership, I discuss how leaders need to support those in their charge to find the art within their own marble. Helping others explore their own potential is one of the most impactful tasks of a good leader.

I saw an art piece this weekend that shows this concept as well as any I've ever seen. This art piece, at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, is a Japanese jade work shown below.

The photos are taken from each of the main faces of the piece, which is over 2 feet wide and 2 feet tall. The jade was, at one point, a large chunk of rock. The artist had to see the art within the jade. Where were the rock terraces? Where were the trees and the people? How did he see the small dwelling at the top of the mountain in the photo below?

It takes vision, patience, and practiced skill to uncover the art within the stone. It takes similar vision, patience and practiced skill within leaders to help others see and uncover the art within themselves.

I go into this concept more in my book, but here are some highlights on how you can help others find the art within their own marble.

  1. Guide them as they start the process of working on themselves. As the "master" you are better equipped to start carving the stone. Help the apprentice see what might be possible with the stone and allow them to start carving in an area to see what might be hidden.
  2. Let them go on their own to carve. The leader doesn't have the time or resources to do the carving for all of the people in their charge. They can be around to answer questions or provide guidance, but they cannot take the time to work on everyone's project. 

    Also, if you were to work on each piece, the finished product wouldn't be their vision, it would be yours. They need to find their own art.
  3. Be available from time to time to carve. There will be points when carving can't continue because of a blockage. You can be available to work with the person about what they are seeing and maybe take a couple of cuts yourself to help them see what new veins in the stone might be avilable. Be patient. This is a lifelong process.
  4. Pay mind to your own marble. As you go through process with others, be mindful of your own marble and how you are taking time to find the art piece that is within you.

To be sure, there will be imperfections in the stone that houses your art. You will mess up and make mistakes in the carving as well. Those will all become the beautiful masterpiece that is the artwork within you.


art, leadership

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