We all know the rules — don’t cross the line; stay in line; don’t get out of line.
Whether it came from our education, our parents, or just the factory-based industrial economies that our cultures have reformed themselves around these last 200 years, we know that to be a good worker (and, maybe, a good person?) means to respect the line.
But, the world is changing. And with it changes our relationship with “the line”.
Many of the lines we grew up with are less and less applicable every year. Just “staying in the lines” as an employee is no longer the guaranteed path to success that had been promised. And as we’ve seen this decade, sometimes the lines just so fully disappear (due to pandemic, war, natural disasters, etc.) that you couldn’t “stay in line” if you wanted to.
Luckily, there’s a group of people we can learn from who are great at working without “lines”.
Artists have, for millennia, been masters of making their own lines. Whether they were starting with a blank slate, or recreating something new on top of a faded and now-irrelevant previous work, their relationship to the line wasn’t one of “fitting in” and “finding their place”.
Instead, theirs was the job of creating the line. Of looking at the chaos and nothingness in front of them, and seeing what could be…. what should be.
And then, making it a reality.
I think we’d be wise to learn some lessons from the artists. You and I might not work with clay and paint, but it seems to me that every single role has space and need for more creative and artistic leadership.
The world needs more people who can look at the mess of a canvas in front of them, and see the beauty of what could be there… and then, to take the steps to make that vision a reality.
Forget about “staying in line”.
Draw a new line.