Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Relieving Yourself Of Limitations

I have a close friend of mine that is an artist in every sense of the word. He can visualize a piece of art and take those steps necessary to create an object that satisfies his concept. It is an ability that I have always considered myself lacking.

I was born as a precursor to generation X. I have watched technology be invented and refined that has changed the very nature of our communication with other humans in a way that hadn't been possible in any other part of recorded human history. One cultural shift that occurred during this period, I can see with hindsight, was a major change in the way we raise children.

Children, when this world was foremost agrarian, were raised to accept certain notions, as they are today. One of those ideas was that there are some things each person is going to be good at and some things you aren't. It was a necessary lesson that children who would grow into hard manual labor jobs needed to be taught to survive and be happy with their achievements.

Somewhere during the middle of the 80's that idea started to wane and children were instead taught that they could do anything they put their mind to. The concept of teaching each child that they are special is one I'm sure most would understand and can think of a child or young adult in their life that may have taken this concept to far. I have an interest in what caused this shift but will save that for another essay.

Unfortunately, I believe that shift in teaching coincided with an ability to achieve instant gratification and being mixed with a society wrapped in commercialism it started to develop an entitlement complex in a lot of people.

It is hard for someone of my generation or later to accept the idea that wanted information is further than a 10 second Google search away. Couple that instant gratification with entitlement and you have a dangerous outcome in the minds and actions of uneducated people.

The inevitable outcome of this change in mindset has left us with an interesting dichotomy. While people have more resources and tools at their disposal they are using them less effectively because their is no need for reflection or patience in understanding.

My friend, that I referred to earlier, and I were having a discussion on the best way to create a certain object and the tools and techniques that could be used to do it correctly. I made a statement along the lines of my not possessing an artistic talent.

His response threw me off a little and I have since been able to use it to further my skills in a host of areas. His response was basically that I of course wasn't an artist. I had never created any art. How can you be an artist if you've never spent any time becoming one?

I quickly replied that I had tried drawing and had never turned out anything I was satisfied with. He answered again, how could I expect to if I was looking for success the first time I tried?

Art is education. Art is having the right tools. Art, of course, is also having the ability to conceptualize a process, but ultimately it is just that, a process. A process can be learned. A process can be taught, refined and applied with increasing familiarity. It's called practice.

Maybe you've seen a finished piece of furniture that someone has created and thought, "I could never do that. I'm no carpenter." Of course you aren't. You've never educated yourself or practiced.

Our mental fight is with that of achievement. Sometimes achieving an end result shouldn't be the reason for taking on a project. Sometimes we should start something with the knowledge that we will be unhappy with the finished product accept that premise before we begin.

Do not limit yourself. Do not try to find those things you are good at and rely on your ability to do them. Instead, find what you are not good at. Educate yourself. Fail at achieving a desired result. Practice.

Self reliance by it's very definition is the idea of providing for yourself in a meaningful way. You are special and can do whatever you put your mind to. It's just not going to happen fast. It won't happen at all, however, if you live with a conviction that you don't have the talent.

Relieve yourself of limitations and create something grand. It's going to take a while, and that's ok.