Have you ever stared at modern art and thought “Heck, I could do that!”? Did you know that Picasso could hold his own with any realistic artist in history? His sketches are unbelievable. His realistic paintings, although far less well known, are stunning. The abstract paintings for which he is most widely known, are an interpretation of what is real. Picasso saw reality. Picasso painted reality…and then he went deeper to extract meaning, change the viewer’s perspective and reflect emotion through his abstract art. The picture above is Picasso’s first realistic painting. It is his own mother and he was 15 years old when he painted it.
One of the many lessons I have learned in my life is that you must master the way things are typically done if you want to truly excel at inventing a new, better way of doing the same thing. If you want to break the rules of convention, you must first master what is conventional!
I recall many years of my wife and I looking at each other and say “We are smart. We can find a better way of earning a living than this! Why are we still punching someone else’s clock? Why are we getting paid to build someone else’s dream rather than paying ourselves to build our own?” We had those conversations for years…the entire time, continuing to punch someone else’s clock. What we failed to realize during those years is that we were absorbing the way things were done…laying the foundation for inventing a way of doing them differently. We were earning our right to break the rules. The cool thing is that once you start breaking rules, you can do it over and over in a thousand ways, faster and faster.
For me, the rules said that I had to have W-2 employment to provide predictable, safe income for my family. I needed that group medical plan to ensure the well-being of my wife and kids. I needed 2 cars and a house with separate bedrooms for everyone over 10 years of age. There was so much I told myself I needed.
I once read a controversial book which said that the government can get away with almost anything as long as they keep the public comfortable. As long as society can have a cell phone, turn on the next TV episode each evening, fill up their tank, eat well, sleep soundly, see a doctor and find a job, no one will ever actual DO anything of significance to push back against the ruling class. They’ll be too busy being comfortable…eating Ben and Jerry’s, watching Netflix and planning the annual Family vacation. They might talk loudly and have strong opinions, but they will never take any action that could actually force some real change…and if they did, no one else would join them because their friends and neighbors are also too busy watching Netflix.
What I now know is that people who pay attention to convention with a desire to overthrow it, break the rules, take action and live into their dreams are incredibly rare…which is why I love to surround myself with them. Many of them fly under the same banner. They are called successful entrepreneurs.
I paid attention when I was a TV network audio operator. On my lunches and breaks…after hours with no pay, I studied every other position in the building, mastered them all and became the first employee appointed to a management position without even an interview. It was the first time in the 20 year history of that department of thousands of employees that policy was broken to simply hand someone the job. I became one of 2 people in the history of the company to work my way from behind the lens to the front of it. I became one of the only people in the company who was allowed to simultaneously span 5 different categories as talent, when policy said no-way. I left that company and decided to move forward and upward, rather than falling backward or seeking the same position elsewhere.
I built a standard video production company which did everything. Then I niched my business to product marketing video. I have now used that company as a vehicle to become business partners with other businesses and diversify my future. I am now partnered with one of the biggest names in the history of my industry and am re-inventing the way vendors will meet their digital marketing demands. It all began because I was always hungry, always searching, always dreaming, but also taking the time to master convention so I could invent what was unconventional.
If you have a dream to push convention, but have not yet done it, ask yourself this question: “Is it time to be the source of change or am I still learning, absorbing, discerning what would be truly valuable in this world.” The jumping off point comes when you have mastered your world…when you can answer for it to anyone who would ask…when you are hungry, have vision, are prepared to be uncomfortable and navigate risk…rather than another night of Netflix!
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