I finally attended a BYOB painting class. I read the reviews of the studio, checked the featured painting for the night (New York State of Mind with the Chrysler and Empire State Building – yes!) and mentally prepared myself to release my inner Picasso.
As soon as I purchased my ticket, I started thinking about how awesome the class would be. Even if I didn’t create a masterpiece worthy of public display in the MoMa, it would still command attention at an exclusive viewing for my friends and family in my living room. Never mind that I had not painted since fourth grade; I was confident that everything was going to be fine and that I was going to have fun.
I walked in feeling confident and I left feeling like a fearless, creative artist (However, this by no means implies that my painting accurately represented this sentiment). I started thinking about how I could transfer this same mindset to my career. What tools could I bring or did I already possess that would bring this same sense of ease and excitement to the workplace?
Here are six BYOB’s for your workplace inspired by my experience at a Friday night BYOB painting class:
Bring your own blueprint
Yes, (spoiler alert!) we all had blueprints at this BYOB painting class. I’m actually quite convinced that there’s no way we could have completed our paintings without one. Using a blueprint wasn’t just about ensuring a perfect picture (or attempting a perfect picture), but really it was about having continuous direction and clear guidelines. Think about this: What you do when your boss hands you a new project? You don’t just dive in, you ensure that you have a full understanding of the goal and the intended results.
Understanding the output will guide your inputs and this matters on every level, whether you’re planning your day, a project, or your next career move. What’s your blueprint, do you have clarity on your guidelines, quite simply: what’s your plan of action?
Bring your own band-aid
What do you do when your seamless ombre sky looks more like an attempt at a multi-hued rainbow and your pinkish color mix is really an awkward scarlet? Well, you fix it as fast as you can and as best you can. I know band-aids have a bad rep in business (they’ve become euphemisms for temporary fixes), but sometimes a band-aid is exactly what we need. Although we never intend to make mistakes, we often do, especially at work.
So next time you’re in a jam at the office, take a breath, and ask yourself, “How do I make this work right now?” Yes, long-term solutions need more time to ruminate, but the point of a band-aid is making the best decision with the information you have available to you at the moment. As Tim Gunn says on Project Runway: Make. It. Work.
Bring your own brand
The thing about group activities is that we often compare our work to that of our neighbors. We know we shouldn’t but we still do, and I took this bad habit with me to my painting class. I couldn’t help but notice all the paintings that resembled the teacher’s much more closely than mine did. As I looked around the room, I quickly realized that no two paintings were alike. We were all given the exact same instructions, the exact same paint, and the exact same picture; yet we all had varying products. Why?
Well as cliché as it sounds, we are all different. We construct things differently and these variations at small levels leads to greater variations on a larger scale. Next time you’re at work, instead of focusing on what makes you different, start focusing on what makes you distinctive. Because that is your brand and knowing that keeps you authentic and assured.
Bring your own brain
As the painting instructor so eloquently stated at the beginning of class – do what makes sense to you. Yes, we had a blueprint but that didn’t mean we had to replicate it. This experience was about bringing life to your vision. That lens, that filter, bring them with you at work. We often think of our offices as areas where we have to exclusively and explicitly follow protocol, but remember you were selected from a pool of qualified applicants because your supervisor and colleagues appreciated what you brought to the table.
You have an opinion. You have a vision. You have a brain. Sometimes in our hurry to execute we forget to evaluate, but taking a moment to do so can make all the difference.
Bring your own buddy
The first thing I did when I decided I wanted to go to this painting class was call a friend. It wasn’t that I was afraid to go alone, but I wanted to bring someone to share the experience with; someone to laugh with, to discuss my progress with, to look at confused when all the paint on my palate dried up mid-way through class with. A buddy tells you your painting isn’t the worst in the class, even if it is – why? Because a buddy is there for support.
When taking this lesson to work, the question is not so much who are my friends, but who would I place on my advisory board? We all have people we look to that can help us process varying situations, and its important that you are clear about who those people are, especially at the office. Who can you look to for support?
Bring your own back-up
Now what do you do when mid-way through the class you run out of wine? You run out and buy more, of course. Well, at least that’s what one of my paint mates did. He wasn’t particularly upset that he had to leave class. His true frustration was that he knew he should have brought another bottle, but he second guessed himself. The irony is that he was prepared for falling short; he knew exactly what store to go to and how many blocks it was away from the studio and he had the text memo on his phone to prove it.
I could easily say the lesson here is quite simply to bring more, but I think bringing back up to the office is not just about having extra, it’s about having evidence. Yes, you could tell your boss that your method would not only be more cost efficient but also easier to implement or you could demonstrate your findings in a quick meeting. It’s about taking the initiative to prepare beyond what you’ve been called to prepare for.
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About the Author | As a communications coach, Lawrese Brown helps social-enterprise, entrepreneurial and impact-driven professionals strengthen how they connect with others, communicate their ideas, and convey their professional value. If your friends say you ramble, networking conversations make you feel overwhelmed, you hate to be called on to speak in meetings, and you’re still overthinking all your answers before you share them out-loud, then you can book her for private session or join her in NYC at her monthly workshops.