The exhibitionist


‘Busyness is not a virtue.  Our value is measured by the outcomes we deliver.’*
(Sean Heritage)

‘To be somebody or to do something.  In life, there is often a roll call.  That is when you will have to make a decision.  To be or to do.  Which will you choose.’**
(John Boyd)

I think we all need to be someone and do something.  To be is an inside thing.  To do is an outside thing.  I get what John Boyd is saying hear: things go wrong when we make an inside thing an outside thing.

Sooner or later, the artist needs to exhibit her work before others, the poet looks towards having a “reading” of his poetry and, one day, the craftsperson must set out their stall.  Here, an exhibitionist is someone who makes their art or artisanship available to others – this is how we make an exhibition of ourselves.

I know an artist who worked on a theme for a third of a year; by the time it came to exhibiting her work, she’d invited more than thirty other people to exhibit their art.  I love this expression of everyone bringing their own work and making a larger whole.  Another way this can happen is everyone bringing their artistry into the syncretising bowl of teamwork.

In the 18th Century, Denis Diderot and colleagues set out to create the first Encycopedia.  Their aim was to celebrate everyone’s skills and artistry:

‘In the Encyclopedia, Diderot and his colleagues celebrated the vitality rather than dwelled on the suffering of those deemed socially inferior.  Vigour was the point: the encyclopédistes wanted ordinary workers to be admired, not pitied.’^

How we need this to happen again.

Towards this, not only do we need a recognition of everyone’s skills, whether these are more subtle or not, we also require more playfulness for developing skills and artistry further and further (I’d include wandering and doodling with playfulness):

‘We have our own playground!  Our Makerspace is where you can develop, prototype and test your brilliant ideas.’*

I’ve been including thoughts from Sean Heritage’s handbook for the US Navy, a surprising source for turning rules around from being things not to do, into the things team members must do, including:

‘Take time off to do something that inspires, excites and energises you.’*

And how about this further encouragement in describing the course on Leadership Agility:

‘Rolling on the floor, being silly, and laughing until you cry is encouraged.’*

I wonder whether the culture or context that is unable to include playfulness or have fun is one of the most dangerous of all.

All for this is towards doing something, to make an exhibition of yourself.

So, what are you doing when you are an exhibitionist?

(*From Sean Heritage’s Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command.)
(**John Boyd, quoted in Sean Heritage’s Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command.)
(^From Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman.)

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