01/23/2013 11:42 am ET Updated Mar 24, 2013

Your Life Is a Work of Art: Getting to the Heart of the Matter

After graduating from high school, Philip laid carpet to help raise his family. He can fix and build anything. He is the neighborhood go-to guy when the furnace in your house is not working, or your car won't start, or your lawn mower needs fixing. Philip has a natural effortless ability to solve amazing kinds of problems. In my book, he is an artist. The ability to fix just about anything, and to make things out of wood just flows out of him with no previous formal training.

Philip represents what I mean by "Life is a work of art."

I believe that life is truly a work of art when we are true to our natural gifts and talents. How we relate to others -- and how we do our work -- are creative expressions.

Most people don't think of themselves as artists. Mozart, Picasso, Yo Yo Ma and Michael Jackson are real artists. The rest of us just don't have the right stuff to be an artist. However, I believe that we all are born artists. Each of us can do something that comes naturally, and at times seems almost too easy. It is something we are able to do that we did not learn in school. We find it a challenge to explain to others how we do it so effortlessly. Bringing alive our natural gifts is living life as a work of art. Our gifts are the same as the "real" artists. They're not better or worse, they're different.

Our present culture, however, tells us, overtly or covertly, whether what we are doing with our life is, or is not, really creative, unique, or meaningful.

After being around people like Philip, and working with leaders as a personal and professional development coach, four common attributes consistently show up. I believe everyone has these four characteristics, and when used, bring us into the artist zone.

Heart: Artists accept and develop challenging opportunities that come their way. Heart happens when they not only dream about what is possible, but make the dream a reality regardless of time or money. Heart is their core passion and purpose. It is what they stand for. Being clear about what is in their heart provides clarity to channel that passion in a positive way.

Head: Artists acknowledge their different kinds of smarts. Do they love working with numbers? Can they learn various languages easily? Do they feel more alive when moving around? Maybe they hum musical tunes spontaneously, or never forget a face, or place they've visited. Artists gravitate to what naturally comes to them.

Feelings: Artists trust their emotions. They are aware when they are mad, sad, glad or afraid. They know why they are feeling that way regardless of whether or not they like what they are feeling. They instinctively know that whatever they are feeling is a natural and normal expression of who they are at that moment. To do otherwise would cut off their creative expression, and would rob them of the magic when bringing something new and exciting into the world.

Form: Artists create a system or structure to express themselves. Over time they become clear that they will "do this, but not that." Their form becomes a pattern, a flexible sequence of steps that provides the satisfaction of fulfilling a creative dream that requires considerable persistence. Without establishing a form for themselves, they get lost, and become unmotivated in bringing alive their natural creative gifts.

As a photographer, I've been gifted with a strong visual acuity that is effortless for me. What is your natural creative intelligence?

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