Pablo Picasso was Wrong

Pablo Picasso once said the following:

I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it.

And although it’s a very inspiring saying and one that many would stand back and agree with I believe it to be incomplete and limited – you see, we believe that it’s totally legitimate and ok to try something new, experiment, and experience alternative ways of doing things and activities but a wise person will stop short of investing too much energy into a particular area, especially if it’s outside their expertise.

The plain and simple truth is that we can’t do anything that we want, regardless of what your parents once told you! As hard as  I might try I will never become an incredible basketball player – I’m short, I can’t jump high, and my ability to put a ball through a hoop is close to function random().

Add the fact that I don’t want to ever become proficient in that sport at any competitive level and you’ve got an area that I simply won’t dedicate much time to. But I will join a pickup game of hoops and I do enjoy that!

pablo-picasso-1The point is that we have to come to terms with our own limitations of being human and embrace, fully, the few things that make us unique and then become extremely good at those few things.

We need to become specialists in our own unique craft, the way that we act and influence others, and how we relate to the organizations and culture in which we serve.

Pablo Picasso was wrong if what he meant was that we should spend a lot of time doing things that we’re not good at – this would be an incredible waste of time, energy, and very limited resources!

But if what he really meant was a reminder to try new things, put ourselves into new environments for the freshness of alternative perspectives, and to engage with others not like ourselves, then he was right.

Of course, we’ll never know what he really meant but we can say that he was amazing at what he did – everything contributed to his art and I would venture to say that he knew himself incredibly well. Do you have this level of expertise on self as he did?

One Reply to “Pablo Picasso was Wrong”

  1. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. But then quit – there’s no sense in being a damned fool about it. Our willingness to try new things must be balanced with a willingness to abandon them.

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