The beginning of December (Dec 5-9) was the start of Art Basel in Miami. While it’s known for its super cool cultural events and parties, the original purpose behind Art Basel was to provide a platform for galleries and artists to show and sell their work to buyers.
While there, I had the privilege of meeting some amazing people. One artist in particular stood out to me. We talked about many things but what stood out to me was his story and life philosophy. I learned three things from him that I feel is worth sharing:
Don’t ignore your gift – Lee is particularly special. He’s an artist, a creator, an inspiration. He was also born with one hand. Nevertheless, he has always had an interest in and a gift, for art. When he was younger he was great at drawing. Although he was ostracized for his disability, many people recognized his strength in the arts. But Lee grew up and as he attended high school he ignored his artistic gift. He tried to focus on getting through school and when he didn’t excel in school he felt like there was something wrong with him.
Lee ignored his gift for more than 10 years. He became a nurses aid and forgot about art. But more than 10 years later Lee began to feel a “pull” toward the art world. It was a calling and opportunities came “calling” to him in many different forms. First, it came in the form of an art exhibit in his employers building that encouraged employees to make submissions. All of his colleagues loved his work and one even asked him if they could buy it from him. Later, he gave one of his pieces to a dear friend who was selling a variety of items on the street (think incense and oil). When his art sold quickly at the street market, he began to work on more pieces and selling them intentionally.
One of the lessons I learned from hearing his story was that first, its is important to identify your gifts, talents, and passion. Second it is important that we do not ignore this gift. Lee’s work is now displayed at Art Basel and he make a very comfortable living off of his art.
Lee’s experience also reminded me of the quote “Everybody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I bring this up to say, that we all have strengths and weaknesses. Actually, it is my personal belief that we all have unique “gifts”. I believe this because we all have different experiences and perspectives and not one of them are exactly the same. Lee admitted in our conversation that there was a period of time where he felt incompetent. My interpretation of this experience is that he was trying to excel in an area that didn’t align with his strengths.
If we are constantly comparing our talents or gifts to others, we will always find people who are stronger, better or faster in a particular category. I believe it is our MISSION, to find our gift and then to grow this particular strength daily.
When you have a vision for your life – don’t look back – One of the greatest lessons I extracted from my conversation with Lee was that once you have a vision for your life (provided you thought through this vision and thought about how you would handle worst case scenarios etc.) you should take the leap necessary and not look back. This message was powerful for me. A lot of the times we make a decision and then we hesitate and second guess ourselves. We stress ourselves out with all this unnecessary worry and we wonder whether we will regret our decision AFTER it has basically already been made.
But this is the source of a lot of suffering and it can be a big waste of time. It is important to move confidently in the direction towards our vision. I think Second guessing ourselves can kill our motivation and even worst, can actually cause us to miss our goals. Being in the right psychological state is half the battle and if we our negotiating against ourselves in our heads AND battling external opinions and challenges it is a recipe for disaster.
Instead give yourself full permission – once you make a decision – you should not feel guilty. My best advice is to give yourself a timeline and move forward – full speed ahead!
Leave it all on the table – Lee and I talked about the importance of leaving everything on the table. It was energizing to hear that we shared similar beliefs. We talked about how we didn’t want to take ANYTHING with us to the grave. We wanted to share and execute on all of our ideas while we were alive, take risks, and give our all. Many people would call this “living life to the fullest” or “living without regrets” or “carpe diem”. Although it sounds cliche, I like the phrase “leaving it all on the table”.
I can remember a time where I followed a completely different conventional path. If I really think about it, I followed the path because it is what I thought was the most challenging and yet the most secure path I could follow. In other words, I knew it would be hard work and that this path would stretch me but it isn’t ULTIMATELY what I wanted (even if I completed every goal on my list). Put differently, if I put fear, security, and limiting beliefs aside, it wasn’t the HIGHEST path I could of taken in my life.
The problem was, I was living life as though I had TWO lives to live. It was as though I had one life where I would do all the challenging work but make all the SAFE choices. You know, the choices that would for the most part ensure I experienced a comfortable living. Then I had this second life in mind that I would start living once I achieved what needed to be achieved in the first life. Only THEN would I feel comfortable taking all the “crazier”, “unconventional” “unrealistic” risks.
Fortunately, I came to the conclusion that I always want to be making decisions based on the absolute HIGHEST path I believe one could take. One where I would leave EVERYTHING on the table.
This means not waiting until I am financially secure or 100% confident (sometimes being 99% confident is ok) about making a decision or donate time to this or that (insert idea,cause, or person). It means acting NOW and taking steps now toward my absolute best life no matter how unconventional it may be. It means leaving it ALL on the table.
I believe that as long as we are living our truths and leaving EVERYTHING on the table we are on the most fulfilling path.
What do you think of our conversation? Have you had similar conversations? Have you ever been to Art basel? Please let me know in the comments!