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Paint What You Know:

Lesson from Grant Wood

· Goal Setting,Work Styles,Self-Improvement

During a trip to Eastern Iowa, we visited the area where American iconic painter, Grant Wood, grew up and lived. We also visited the grounds of the house in Eldon that would serve prominently in his most famous painting – American Gothic. This painting, like the Mona Lisa, is known worldwide and has been parodied for decades.

At the small museum in Eldon, I remember that while Wood traveled to Europe four times to study his craft of painting, he was given advice that shaped his career. Once he heeded this counsel and felt more comfortable, he eventually became the spokesperson for the Regionalist Art Movement; which encourages a painter to paint elements of his own surroundings, where he lives, and what he experiences.

This type of focus has been a theme for my work with several coaching clients over the years. Clients have struggled and become fearful without realizing that they could truly do their best work and make lasting contributions. To be more successful, people learned that whether writing, presenting, training, marketing, leading, selling, or speaking to audiences, they needed to focus on what they truly know. To be successful, Grant Wood was advised to “paint what you know”. And he did, with great achievement.

“It's not knowing what to do, it's doing what you know.”

- Tony Robbins