Step by Step


Vincent Van Gogh is a huge inspiration for my work - ever since I read “Lust for Life.” And Seth Godin is an important model for approaching it. I appreciated his post today, in “When will you get to Ramsgate?” Seth takes the arch of Van Gogh’s work to illustrate one of his core mantras “drip, drip, drip,” or, you get there step-by-step. He shows Van Gogh’s evocative yet somber painting of Ramsgate. It took skill to get there, it took step after step after step. And Van Gogh was still nowhere near the Van Gogh that we are so moved by today.

In Evolutionary Leadership we talk about ten-year visions and three month plans. We have a process for becoming Van Gogh.

  • We first tune in to our vocation, we listen closely for our calling and we sharpen our intention around it - we hone in, we focus our creative life force.

  • We immediately turn to community, we tend to human connection, we name and build our “scenius” - “a whole scene of people committed to supporting each other, looking at each other’s work, copying from each other, stealing ideas, and contributing ideas.” We fall in love with the people who will be with us on the journey.

  • And we commit to a rigorous process of unfolding experimentation, not just to throwing spaghetti at the wall but to a set of steps we call “cre-action.” We find our way by doing, we take one step, then another, then the next. Action trumps everything. It’s the best way to figure it out.

There is an incredible scene in “Lust for Life,” the moment Van Gogh first encounters the impressionists. He had been laboring for years, mimicking the sober and dark work of the Dutch masters of his homeland, and all of the sudden “Boom!” “Splash!” he encountered an explosion of color like he had never seen before, he saw artists doing work that had never been done before, and he understood that all of his life, all of his sweat and all of his tears had conspired to bring him to this moment. Step by step by step Van Gogh brought himself to that room, with those people. Shaken with tears he left the space and went on a long and ambling walk around Paris, his heart bursting with emotion. He understood what was next.

He had arrived. And it was time to keep walking.