Happy New Year! This is the time of year that makes us think about setting goals and making plans. But as much as we plan, we can’t predict the future--we don’t ever know with any certainty what the world will be like tomorrow. All we can do is put our ear to the ground, listen to the distant signals, and see if we can make a good guess. Here’s my best guess: I think what’s next is about collaboration and new ways of converging ideas. New models for solutions, for partners and resources. Because in my own work, I see that our biggest successes have come when we’ve reached out to nontraditional partners, borrowed models and platforms from other sectors, and found support in unlikely places. That’s been true in partnerships in healthcare,entrepreneurship, local food and major infrastructure development. And those ways of converging ideas and bringing art and artists to new tables and involving them in the whole of their community have brought new attention and new resources.
The reassuring part about this way of working is that we have everything we need.You have everything you need. It’s just a matter of being curious enough to discover new ways of doing things, open enough to finding new resources. And, building a network – a big one. If you’ll go along with me and say that what’s next is about these new combinations of existing solutions, then we’re going to need a big network of people to find the overlaps, the gaps and the smart new combinations, right? How do we do that?
I think it’s as simple as this: love something. do something.
Love something. Do you know what you love? What you believe in so deeply that you can taste it? I’m talking about something different than a cause you care about or a topic you know a lot about. I mean deep, passionate love. The neuroscientist Jonah Lehrer has a great essay that uses the word “grit” to describe this – the thing that you just can’t let go of, that never gets comfortable or complacent. What do you wake up in the morning thinking about? If you don’t know what it is yet, that’s ok – try on some different hats, see what sticks. You’ll know it when you find it. But don’t settle for “good work”, or a mission statement, or a job you can feel good about. Good is not the same as love. Once you find it, share it. Wear your heart on the outside. People respond to passion. This is the whole beauty of TEDtalks, right? Watching people talk about what they love is motivating and inspiring, it makes you love what they love for a moment. I’m a shy person, but I can talk to you forever about the need for artists in our communities. People have really good radar for authenticity. And once you find the thing you love, that you can speak about from your heart and your gut, you’ll find that it’s easy to talk about and that it draws people to you who are interested in the same thing and who want to share their ideas, work together, make something happen with you.
Do something. Take that love and do something – you don’t need permission, or money, or an organization – just do. When you do something you believe in, when you put your idea or your solution into the world, even in a small way, people will notice – and you’ll find the people who want to help pretty fast. What’s something you can do today? Please don’t wait around for someone to invite you, or ask you or tell you – the world needs your ideas, your solutions, your love.