Copyright 2018 Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved
Left: “Moses” sculpture by artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
Right: “A Life For Art” painting by artist Carl Paoli http://www.carlpaoli.com
“Personal Development is as much about not doing things as it is about doing them.”
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 a concept that is an already-accepted notion.
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 as pieces of art. For this example, I’d like the reader to think of your life as both a painting and a sculpture. When we set goals for ourselves, it’s essential to be sensitive to time and what can be accomplished in the finite amount of time we’ve been given. For example, let’s look at the physical goal of getting into shape. There are two things we need to concentrate on: doing some things and not doing other things. For instance: Doing exercise and not overeating. Both are equally important and should be done in concert with one another. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Think of your TO-DO list like you’re painting a picture. 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 elements (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 essential 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.” So don’t be afraid; just live! Finally, as Tony Robbins says, “take action!” So make a list of your ‘to-dos’ and start doing them!
Next, think of your TO-DON’T list like you’re carving a sculpture out of a block of stone. This list will include all of our bad habits, bad thinking, and bad decisions. When it comes to our negative proclivities, we have to cease and desist; it’s that simple. Again, using a metaphor, the following may or may not have transpired, but it illustrates a truth.
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.”
We should ask ourselves; what about me now is superfluous, useless, or worse, harmful? After we figure that out, we need to chisel away those parts of us and get rid of them. What can we learn from this exercise? Often, much 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 (our ‘to-don’t-list), then take the time we’re saving with that action and start doing the things that improve us (our ‘to-do-list). 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 take a 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. Rarely do we have to change a good habit to make our lives better. So make a list of your ‘to-do n’ts’ and stop doing them!
Bonus tip! If you’re like me and have used the excuse that there isn’t enough time in a day to develop the habits we need to do to succeed, we can stop doing that. Because when we eliminate our bad habits, we free up the time necessary for the good habits to take over. Win-win!
Are you still not convinced that expunging bad habits will free up your time for good habits? According to Nicole Fisher, healthcare contributor to Forbes online, Americans spend an average of 12 hours a day in front of a screen! TVs, computers, mobile devices are taking up 1/2 of our lives! But it’s actually far worse than that sounds. If we sleep 8 hours out of every 24, this means we’re awake 16 hours a day. If we spend 12 hours of waking time in front of screens, 75% of the time we’re not sleeping, we’re wasting away watching other people live their lives instead of living our own. After you read this, please put away the device you read it on—or walk away from it—and keep walking until you put in a few miles!
Finally, Zig Ziglar said it well: “Lack of time isn’t the problem; lack of direction is.”
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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:
*One of my favorite books on the subject is “I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like” by Mardy Grothe. It’s an excellent 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, as he has a tough time hiding his political leanings. If you can put those aside, you’ll enjoy his work thoroughly as I do. https://www.amazon.com/NEVER-METAPHOR-DIDNT-LIKE/dp/B006G899N4/ref=cm_cr_othr_d_pdt_img_top?ie=UTF8