Why think like an artist during times of crisis? One fundamental good habit you could copy is to embody your practice – one daily, testing nudge at a time.
Lastnight’s Global Goals Music Roadshow had, as ever, many nuggets of wisdom from our guests, all of who have some interest in or idea they’re testing to encourage more sustainable futures. And one perspective I’d not quite considered before came from the wonderful thinker Zach Carlsen, who’s Insta channel Strength Is Life has thousands of followers.
He shared something of his personal story, of feeling powerless, lost, rock bottom at one point in his life, but then having the revelation of not waiting to act. In fact, doing something right where you are to make some tiny impact of change. It ultimately added up for him enough to change his own life, learning to manage addiction and turn his example into help for others. Finding a whole new level of personal strength in both purpose and practice.
The principle that chimes with artists’ work here, I think, is that this is what practice means. Doing more than thinking things out but trying them out – testing as you go. Embodying the work. Putting it out there. Seeing what works and how it feels as you try to get it to work. Not hiding from yourself or the public testimony of it, long before it’s more “respectably” ready.
In every sense, showing up.
The method he laid out, though, chimed something new for me. Something super-practical, super-do-able.
“Don’t think that sustainable growth happens when we’re a mile outside of our comfort zone” Zach said, “but instead, when we find the edge of our comfort zone and we push against that continuously, day after day, it expands our comfort zone until at some point what was once a mile outside of our comfort zone is now the edge.”
From there, he said: “We can build the architecture and the muscle to sustain it – instead of taking a leap! ..And being way out of our depth.”
My co-host AY Young has been running a sustainably-powered music tour, The Battery Tour – embodying change as an artist. So much, it brought him to the attention of the United Nations and he is now the USA’s only Young Leader to the UN. He responded to Zach by simply saying: “You’re literally putting into words how I’ve operated to even get here.”
If there’s one thing AY does, it’s embody his practice. And it’s infectious, wherever he goes. Things seem more possible when he’s around. And he makes things happen. Something Zach acknowledged to him, speaking as a life coach, as: “not always standard practice…”.
There’s a strange duality between strength and vulnerability in this. Between mapping your limits and seeing where you can push them. Nudge them. But it works. It changes your world, and so the worlds around you. And it weirdly dissipates fears in the doing.
Art thinking might be playful in its practice, but it’s a lot less about making big statements than leaving an ongoing body of work, working stuff out through your life. One curious, daily push at your boundaries at a time.
It’s how people see the boundaries getting moved – in you.