Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Stealing All The Good Stuff!

Written by: on March 7, 2023

Oh, so much good stuff in one small book. Steal Like An Artist was the perfect feel-good read for me. I am convinced that Austin Kleon and I would be best friends if we met, and please be advised that from this point on I will refer to him as my best friend in my head (BFIMH). He joins an elite group of BFIMH that include Brene Brown, Michele Obama, Ava DuVernay, and Tabitha Brown. In all seriousness, this book motivated me, the principles outlined are applicable to not only the digital spaces but also to personal interactions. This felt like a personal instruction manual for me. I have highlighted the three that most resonate with me in this season of my journey.
#2 Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started
I wrote about “Imposter Syndrome” a few weeks ago on FaceBook. It was a time that I was feeling in over my head and was doubting my decision to pursue my Doctorate. I was convinced that I was the only person with these doubts. I was fighting feeling like a phony and having no idea of how to proceed. Kleon states, “None of us do. Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: THEY DON’T KNOW WHERE THE GOOD STUFF COMES FROM. They just show up and do their thing.” (2) I arrived at the same point. The way forward for me is to continue to show up as my authentic self and do my thing. The good stuff will come.
#3 Write The Book That You Want To Read
My goal since I was old enough to put words on a page has been to write a book. Over the years I have many unfinished manuscripts and it is still an unachieved goal for me. My reasons for not finishing these books have always been lame excuses. I was so inspired by this passage, “Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use-do the work you want to see done.”(1) I need to sit down and write the story that I want to read.
#8 Be Nice (The World is Small Town)
Now I will admit that when I first read this principle, I thought that it would address the importance being a good person and how your actions are important because you never know who is watching but it really wasn’t about that. The focus was different but just as important. I often say to people that I want to work with people that are smarter than I am. I called them my “Wednesday through Monday” people. It is widely known in my professional and personal circles that Tuesday is my brilliant day. I operate at an impressive level on Wednesday through Monday but on Tuesday’s, my brilliance overflows. It is always my desire to, as Kleon calls, “stand next to the talent”. There is no better way to stall your growth than to be the smartest person in your circle of influence. Seek out those that have more experience and possess more knowledge than you do. Kleon sums it up beautifully, he says, “If you find that you are the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room” (3)
Let’s not overlook the principles from the deleted scenes. Here are four of my favorites and my commentaries (Kleon didn’t provide any, so I added my own):
1. Be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.
This is a tough one for me. I am a giver to my core. If I have it and you need it, it is yours. Unfortunately, this includes my current most precious commodity, my time. I am learning that hard way to say “no” to the things that interfere with my work.

2. What do you want your days to look like?
There is a saying that is on my wall in my office, “She Designed a Life That She Loved!” It used to be my preferred hashtag. What draws me to this phrase is the belief that we have the ability to determine what kind of experience that we have daily.

3. Do it wrong.
There is meaningful growth in getting it wrong. It is so important to try even at the risk of not winning or not being right. This is a courageous approach to learning.

4. Go Deeper
Step in with both feet and allow for an immersive experience. Stretch yourself beyond your level of comfort.
Do any of these principles from the deleted scenes speak to you?
I’d like to leave you with one additional principal that I believe to be equally as transformative as the ones outlined above. Sometimes it is necessary to “just be quiet and think. It’ll make all the difference in the world”. (4) This speaks to the need for us to slow things down and allow the stillness to center us and think before acting. In the book Stillness Is The Key, Ryan Holiday offers stillness as a means to mastery of discipline, focus and clarity. Do not shy away from the stillness and the self-discovery that may emerge. And as my new BFIMH (best friend in my head) suggests, “Go Deeper” Loved Ones!

1.Austin Kleon, Steal like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative (New York, New York: Workman Publishing Company, 2022), 28.
2.Ibid, 48.
3.Ibid, 104.
4.Ryan Holiday, Stillness Is the Key (New York, New York: Penguin, 2019), 47.

About the Author


Jonita Fair-Payton

9 responses to “Stealing All The Good Stuff!”

  1. Kally Elliott says:

    Oh, Principle 2, what do you want your days to look like?

    Hmmm… I prefer busy days when I feel like I am being productive but I definitely want margins so that I am not so rushed as to not be fully present wherever I am.

    I haven’t read much of the book yet but your insight on “stand next to the talent” struck a chord with me. You say, “There is no better way to stall your growth than to be the smartest person in your circle of influence.” I am grateful for my circle of friends who keep me on my toes! I’d say we’re all pretty smart but in different ways. I appreciate how they share their wisdom with me and how I can share mine with them and how we learn from one another. My friend Emily is hilarious and my current goal is to learn how to be witty like she is!

    Disagreeing with Kleon, I’d say, if you think you’re the most talented person in the room you’re probably not curious enough about the abilities of others.

  2. mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

    Oh Kally…I love the slow days that unfold as the hours go by. The unplanned time is my favorite. Like you, I also have a circle (I call them my Tribe) filled with some amazing women with talents and gifts that I admire. It is amazing to be in community with women that bring out the best in one another.
    You say, “I’d say, if you think you’re the most talented person in the room you’re probably not curious enough about the abilities of others.”
    I love that you saw this differently. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Travis Vaughn says:

    Jonita — such a great post! I’ve never heard the BFIMH acronym before, but now I want to start using it as early as tomorrow morning.

    You mentioned Brene Brown. Two years ago, I read her book, Braving the Wilderness, suggested by a friend. There are so many good quotes from that book. However, that’s the only Brene Brown book I’ve read. If I read a second one, which one would you recommend?

    One more thing — You said that you’ve wanted to write a book for a long time. If there were 1 – 3 key reasons why you think you haven’t, I’m curious what you would say. I’m wondering, because I’ve wrestled with the same thing. I do have some articles that I’ve written, but the book thing has not yet happened. I think one will be written once this doctoral project is over, but the thought of actually going through with it is somewhat daunting. I have a book project I started a couple of years ago, but it has stalled a bit. Actually, more than a bit. Kleon’s statement about writing “the book that you would want to read” was encouraging and has helped me reframe the problem a bit.

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      Hi Travis,

      I’m so glad that you will be using BFIMH! I can’t wait to hear your list. I think if I had to recommend a Brene Brown book it would be Dare to Lead. It has some useful tips.

      I don’t quite know what is holding me back. I’m still unpacking what the problem is. I’ve started a few manuscripts and I’ve stepped away from them. When I try to pick back up where I left off…I have trouble connecting. I have not fully committed to it and yet it’s still a goal for me. Perhaps we can be accountability partners after we finish the program.

  4. mm Cathy Glei says:

    Now I have BFIMH – Best Friend In My Head. . . . LOVE IT! Unpack what Tuesdays, your Brilliant Days, look like/sound like? What do you attribute that to? I appreciated the playful structure of the book, the quality of the paper and artistic elements in the book. . . i.e. the font, pictures, black & white contrast, etc. It was a fun read.

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      I think that Tuesdays are just as perfect as it gets. There is no leftover regret from what I was able to do or not do over the weekend. The fun/frolicking from the weekend is gone and I have laser focus. The slug from Monday is gone. I am energized, eager to meet my goals, and firing on all cylinders. If you want new, innovative, and powerful engagement with me…call me on Tuesday. I actually think most people operate better on Tuesday’s. Perhaps I should test that theory. How do you feel about Tuesday’s?

      • mm Cathy Glei says:

        😀Hmm. . . when I think about my weekly rhythms, I am pretty charged up and ready for what the week has in store on Mondays (TGIM). . .
        get into a smooth groove on Tuesdays. . .
        Still grooving on Wednesdays, but Wednesdays are long days for me (school, staff meeting and sometimes worship practice). . .
        On Thursdays, I need a little more coffee and dark chocolate. . . especially if I haven’t completed my blog post yet. 🙂
        On Fridays, I am anticipating the rest and fun of Sabbath.
        Sundays are pretty full days in the Glei household. Then the cycle begins again. You asked about Tuesdays and I sketched out the week.

  5. mm Kim Sanford says:

    #1 BFIMH – I love it and I’m stealing it!

    #2 “Be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.” And might I add “maintain a smidge of mental health/inner peace/space for reflection”? I’ve written about it in other blog posts, but this is a real struggle for me. The struggle is not so much saying no, but not feeling horribly guilty about it. I have this track on repeat in my head that says Christ calls us to a life of self-sacrifice, which is absolutely true. At the same time I know that when I’m overloaded I have less capacity for love, for patience with my kids and my teammates, for serving my neighbors, and all the other things that God calls me to. Peter Scazzero talks about this in Emotional Healthy Spirituality. He quotes Parker Palmer saying, “Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”

  6. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Jonita,
    Thanks for bringing up the “Deleted Scenes” section. There were some great nuggets to be found there! My favorite is, “Make things for the people you love. For people you want to meet?” The first part is so true for me and my NPO, but the second part has me wondering about the people I want to meet. Who do I want to meet or engage who will help me further my NPO? Who are the people with a similar passion? What new relationships will be built with those who benefit from my NPO?
    What are your hopes along those lines?

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