Left: “Moses” sculpture by artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
Right: “A Life For Art” painting by artist Carl Paoli http://www.carlpaoli.com
If you are a regular reader of my material, you know that I love to make my point with analogies, similes, and metaphors. I believe that these communication tools make it much easier to influence others because the reader/listener/recipient can embrace something that is an already-accepted notion. By the way, one of my favorite books on the subject is “I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like” by Mardy Grothe It’s a great compilation, and it’s available on Amazon.com (see my review of the book there too). Click the link below and buy it. It’s a cool book, and he has many other worthwhile works as well. Note: Keep an open mind when reading Grothe’s material; he has a tough time hiding his political leanings. If you can put those aside, you’ll enjoy his work thoroughly as I do.
I present the reader with two analogies that I believe illustrate a point I like to make during my talks. We may want to look at our lives and goals as pieces of art. For this example, I’d like the reader to think of their lives as both a painting and a sculpture. When we set goals for ourselves, it’s important to be sensitive to time and what can be accomplished in a fixed amount of time. For example, let’s look at a physical goal of getting into shape. There are two necessary things we need to concentrate on: doing some things and not doing other things, like doing exercise and not overeating. Both are equally important and should be done in concert with one another. This is good news. Not doing one thing offers us more time to do the other stuff. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Think of painting a picture as your to-do list. We can look at our lives and goals as a blank canvas. We can add color and texture and subject matter until we become what we envision for ourselves. The possibilities are myriad, and we can keep adding things (doing things) until we finally see what we envision for ourselves. These include, but are of course not limited to: going to school and getting a degree, or attending seminars, going to the gym, reading a book, starting healthy habits, etc. It’s important to keep the following in perspective: we can’t ‘undo’ the things we do. We will either benefit from our actions, or learn from them, but we have to do them. The master painter, John W. Gardner said, “Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” Don’t be afraid; just do it! Finally, like Tony Robbins says, “take action!” So make a list of your ‘to-dos’ and start doing them!
Next, think of carving a sculpture as your to-don’t list. The following may or may not have transpired, but it illustrates a truth.
It might have happened, just like the story of Michelangelo being congratulated at the unveiling of his immortal David.
“How in God’s name could you have achieved a masterpiece like this from a crude slab of marble?” a fan is supposed to have asked him.
“It was easy,” Mike is said to have said. “All I did was chip away everything that didn’t look like David.”
What can we take away from this? What we want to become is already inside of us, and all we have to do is get rid of the parts of us that get in the way (or stop doing certain things). Think again about losing weight. Those six-pack abs are hiding behind a layer of fat. Get rid of the fat and expose the abs. The parts of us that need to be chipped away can be physical things (like the fat), but also intangible things like bad habits (like over-eating) and poor thinking (like a bad attitude). There’s another ‘plus’ to not doing certain things: Contrary to not being able to ‘undo’ actions we take in the painting analogy above, we don’t have the same risk with our ‘to-don’t’ list in the sculpture analogy. It is challenging–if not impossible–to regret not making poor decisions or taking counter-productive action. For instance, we can never be hit by the train if we don’t chance trying to cross the tracks when it’s coming. We are all guilty of doing things we shouldn’t be doing and not doing them makes our lives so much better. The masterpiece of David lies in wait in all of us. All we need to do is chip away everything that doesn’t look like what we want to become. These are usually going to be poor habits. So make a list of your ‘to-don’ts’ and stop doing them!
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Please visit Carl Paoli’s website. He is one of the greatest artists of our era.
Be sure to read my other metaphors about Personal Development: