business strategy | August 17, 2014

To Start Something New, Business Looks to Art: TED Speaker Sarah Lewis

The folks at TED have launched a new microsite, aimed at business leaders, and the first post is by Lavin speaker Sarah Lewis, author of The Rise. Lewis discusses avenues to mastery in business by looking in the opposite direction—to artists. (Besides being a TED 2014 speaker, Lewis is also a renowned curator.)

Artists, Lewis observes, know how to get over their fear of starting. “[They] have, historically, incorporated all kinds of devices and modes to trick themselves out of being afraid of creating something new.” Lewis cites playwright August Wilson, who began each of his plays on a cocktail napkin as a way of avoiding the glaringly blank page. She outlines four tips drawn from innovative and atypical thinkers (like Paul Cézanne) that entrepreneurs (or anyone looking to create something from nothing) can learn from:

1)    View success as a moment—and know that there is always more to aim for.

2)    Seek solace in the near-win. “People think it’s difficult to apply this theory to the business world where there are huge costs involved with hitting a benchmark,” Lewis says. “But on the other hand, an entrepreneurial environment stokes an irreplaceable fire.”

3)    Stay true to your endearing goals, like Cézanne, who only signed 10% of his paintings! Don’t hang on to anything that isn’t truly dear to you.

4)    Pursue the "Ever Onward Almost"—which means embracing the constant pursuit, even if you don’t have to.

Practicing this model, Lewis says, will lead artists and entrepreneurs alike to the domain of mastery, rather than the narrow pinnacle of success.“What really focusing on mastery does is [reorient] people to honor their own internal world.”

Speaker Sarah Lewis is the author of The Rise. In her keynotes, she discusses creativity, the gift of failure, and the search for mastery. To book Sarah Lewis for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

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