Anyone who has ever seen my resume has seen one of my favorite quotes at the top of it. The incomparable former CEO of Carlson Companies, Marilyn Carlson Nelson once said, “We must live each day in a way that we would be proud to sign our name to it.” I think of Marilyn’s quote not figuratively, but literally. At the end of your day, if you wrote down everything you did, everything that you said, everything you accomplished or set your mind to, would you be proud (not just willing, but proud) to sign your name to it and put it up on the wall like artwork?Because you should. Your work, your day’s work and your life’s work, should be an expression of you so strong it feels like a work of art – like you’re creating a daily masterpiece to proudly display on your mom’s refrigerator.
A professor in Harvard’s Business School shares this believe and wrote recently about it in an article called “Turn Your Career Into a Work of Art” on HBR’s Blog. He writes, “Similarly, being able to turn your career into a work of art, to thrive and lead with passion in a world in flux, requires finding a space, and I mean both a psychological and social space, where what you do is tied with who you are and what people around you care about — a community where commitment feels enabling, liberating, rather than just constraining.”
Finding your identity in your work, finding your passive in your work, and striving every day to do that work in a community that fulfills and supports you will bring your artwork to life. It will bring your masterpiece to fruition, making each day more and more fulfilling.
And while Gianpiero Petriglieri encourages you to turn your career into a work of art, I contend that focusing on your single days will be more realistic. It’s hard to think through career concepts as a larger look at our overall lifetime in business. But thinking about today is simpler and more effective. Look at your to-do list today, look at your short term goals, and ask yourself, “What can I do today that I ‘d be proud to sign my name to?” And over time, day after day, as you post each day’s masterpiece on your proverbial refrigerator, you’ll find your life and your career have become a masterpiece.