How To Achieve Excellence

Picasso by Picasso
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One day, Old Pablo Picasso was sitting in a café having a cup of coffee.  Being Picasso, he was drawing.  Actually doodling on a napkin.  Finishing his coffee, he crumpled up his napkin to throw it away and a woman that had been watching him ran up to him.

“Can I have that drawing?  I’ll pay you for it!”

“Sure.  $20,000.”

Flabbergasted, she exclaimed “But it only took you a couple of minutes to draw!”

“No madam.  It has taken me 60 years to draw that.”

Experience is valuable.  Every day we acquire greater field specific knowledge that should enhance our reputation and skill set, to the point where we become experts and masters of our craft.  It doesn’t matter if it is financial planning or law or art, the improvement over years and decades creates greatness that can change the world.

And know where it starts?

By sucking.

By being just absolutely horrible.

Like the six-year-old kid playing the violin that sounds like they are murdering a small animal, or the totally inedible dinner the nine-year-old makes.  The white belt in martial arts that are all knees and elbows and moving like a drunken spider on a spinning plate.  Being horrible and attempting is the start of being legendary.

“Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy an old fucking drum set and get in their garage and just suck.  And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck too.  And then they’ll fucking start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of the sudden they’ll become Nirvana.”  Dave Grohl

Start.  Suck.  Practice. 

Improve.  Suck less.  Practice.

Improve.  Don’t suck.  Practice.

Excel. Practice.

Master.

Practice.

Re-invent and try something different.

Sorta suck.

Practice.

Keep the cycle of reinvention by trying something new, improving by practice, and constant growth.  Striving towards a worthwhile goal, an endeavor requiring great effort is a key to happiness, and working to improve (even when great) is what keeps the mind young and is a fundament trait of sustained excellence.

Picasso’s doodles were his mind wandering and his skills continuing to develop and practice.  It was how Picasso, well, became Picasso.  Even into his later years (he died in his early 90’s) he produced great art, because of the 70+ years of accumulated knowledge combined with the curiosity of a child (the essence of genius per Einstein).

So doodle away, play and practice.  Start from the point of sucking and get better, because that is the way true professionals approach their craft.

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