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Career Success Lessons From An Impressionist Painter

Recently I saw a film about the later years of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the great impressionist painter.

It was a beautiful movie visually.  And, I found some life and career success advice in it.

There is a scene in the film where Renoir tells his son Jean, who became a celebrated film maker, the story about how he became a fine artist.

It turns out that the elder Renoir was born into a working class family.  He went to work at a young age in a pottery factory where his drawing talents led to his being chosen to paint designs on fine china.  He thought he would be a pottery painter forever.

But then technology caught up with him;  pottery factories developed the ability to mass produce china and there was no need for artists to hand paint each plate.

The world is better for this.  Renoir turned his talents to the canvas and produced some of the greatest works of all time like Dance at Bougival and the bather series of nudes.  His fame endures.  Two of his paintings have sold for more than US $70 million.

Renoir didn’t dwell on the negative of losing his job because of a technological advance.

He used that as the impetus to create some of the world’s most beautiful and enduring works of art.

Renoir’s story reminds me of the advice I found in a book by Evelyn Brooks called Forget Your Troubles: Enjoy Your Life Today.

Losing a job, especially through no fault of your own like Renoir, is a troublesome and stressful experience.  Evelyn suggests that you get S.M.A.R.T. about managing stress.

S: Smash the negative.

M: Maximize the positive.

A: Act.

R: Relax.

T: Target your next action.

That’s what Renoir did.

If he didn’t smash the negative of losing a job to technology, he let it go.  He maximized the positive which was his artistic ability.  He took action.  It takes courage to go from being a pottery painter to a fine artist.  He relaxed and let his talent take over.  He kept painting until the end.

At the end of his life he suffered from severe arthritis.  He couldn’t pick up a brush.  His assistants had to put the brush in his hand, yet he continued painting.  He was very S.MA.R.T. about managing the stress that came with a major negative event in his life.

Renoir’s story is a great illustration of some of my most repeated career advice.  Stuff happens as you go through life; positive stuff, negative stuff, happy stuff, sad stuff, and frustrating stuff.  The important thing is not what happens, but how you react to it.

So smash your negative thoughts, replace them with positive ones.

Don’t dwell on the negative, use it as a springboard to action and creativity.  Use the negatives that come your way as learning experiences. Maximize the positives in your life by creating positive habits and routines.  When something goes well, take the time to celebrate.  You deserve it.  And, small celebrations of your successes will put you in a positive frame of mind, which in turn, will help you create more life and career success.

Read more posts by Bud Bilanich, Ed.D., The Common Sense Guy, a career success coach, leadership consultant, motivational speaker, bestselling author and influential blogger for JenningsWire.