The chances are good that you haven’t heard of Gustav Vigeland. But his single-minded focus on one concept has much to teach us. He is the Norwegian sculptor whose life’s work is on view in Vigeland Park in Oslo. He created hundreds of bronze and stone figures depicting the range of human emotion. As impressive as the quality of his work is, it’s the scale that overwhelms. Happy, jubilant, angry, sad, resigned, confused, enraged, nurturing, and fun people tumble, jump, heave, race, love and care for each other along a bridge and up the hill to his signature obelisk. His work is the biggest attraction in Oslo. It is a testament to a single-minded focus on his passion throughout his life.
What if each of us accomplished our passion with a single-minded focus? What would it take to do that? Here’s what I learned from Gustav.
Have a focus. Some may view Gustav’s life’s work as sculpting, but I see it as communicating humanness. What is yours? It may not show up as a physical thing like sculpting. It may be a concept, a belief, a principle. What do you believe in? What do you care about? What values do you epitomize? What has changed your life? Is it your integrity; your honesty; your fairness; your belief in the power of innovation; your commitment to urban design for quality of life; your passion for walkable communities? For example, for me, the concept of infotuition was a game changer. Infotuition encapsulated the moment when I learned that to lead and live requires more than logic. I needed to think and feel; to integrate information and intuition. Today I bring infotuition to decision-making, motivation and teamwork. What is your passion?
Express it. Whatever your passion, how do you express it in your work and leadership? You can’t impact the world or influence others if you keep your inspiration to yourself. Gustav chose to communicate his passion for human emotion through sculpture. For those of us communicating a concept, the more ways to communicate, the better. At Vigeland Park, one person was captivated by the angry baby; another by the entwined lovers; others had to look away from the enraged man. The emotion hit home differently for different people. In your case, do you talk to your staff about what you believe? Do you make decisions in alignment with your belief? Do you write and speak on your concept? Whatever it is for you, don’t keep it a secret.
Maintain the focus. Vigeland Park is striking due to the scale of the work. For decades, Gustav pursued his passion. The result was hundreds of emotional sculptures. He was persistent, and so must you be. Your staff, clients, colleagues require time to notice and internalize your belief, concept or passion. You’ll think it’s obvious sooner than anyone else. You’ll see your concept at work when no one else does. Settle in. This takes time and repetition. The impact starts in time.
Gustav made an impact. I intend to make an impact because infotuition is a concept whose time has come. What’s your concept? Where do you wish to leave a mark? Don’t wait. Get started!
Photo credit: TripAdvisor