Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Throw "IT" in the Trash

I recently responded to a comment made on one of my post. The comment centered on me being thankful for things. While I may not express it all the time, I am very grateful, for everything that I have been able to experience in life. But the conversation reminded me of one of the primary principles that leads my living in life. Here's my response:

I'm not sure I agree with your point. There's not much one can learn, moving forward, from success. I don't believe in ceremonies or celebrations, just wins. However, that doesn't preclude me from being grateful for the things I have accomplished. I am very thankful. :-)

My professor in a 3-D Concepts course made us throw our assignments (sculptures, renderings, etc.) in the trash after the critique and grade. It wasn't a big deal when I knew I produced a half-done sub-par product. I could have trashed it before class started. But when I finally spent some time and created something extremely beautiful and useful (a sculpture made totally out of pretzels), the act of throwing it in the trash was very problematic.

I now live by that process for everything that I do in life. Professor Owens-Hart's point was that the true value in producing masterpieces does not lie in the artifact itself, but in one's ability to replicate it at any point in time. The great ones can call it up at a moment's notice, and are so finely tuned that the concern is on the 5% that's not right. Throwing it in the trash is not an act of being ungrateful. It's an act of investing in yourself by saying, "if I had to, I could do it all over again, but even better". Success is not a destination, it's a process.

I think I will make a post on this.

I find that many people go through life through the lens of destinations. You hear it all the time - "They are changing the software again!" - or - "He will just have to accept me as I am!". If there is one thing that's constant in life, the notion of process and change would be it. The privilege of earth centers on have a moment in the vast space of time to change and interact with the things around you, not in the way that comets collide with on another, but in a manner where most can become better. 

For a moment, imagine if you had to throw it all away - your possessions, your accomplishments, and everything else that you have used to identify your value. How problematic would that be for you? I'm not talking about the inconvenience of it. Most people get bent out of shape when they have to refill out a library card application. I'm talking about your resolve that you could do it again, and would do it again, and would do it better. 

People create masterpieces everyday and go unnoticed, and life moves on. That doesn't mean it's not a masterpiece. It doesn't mean that it's not useful to society. It only means that the circumstances were not right for that masterpiece to be accepted by society - that's all. But, should that stop the person from doing it all over again tomorrow? If we have learned anything about the great ones, the answer is clearly "no", because that's what they do, and that's who they are. 

I understand the pain of being unaccepted, ignored, rejected - having our stuff trashed by others. I know how it feels to give it your all and have it be laughed at, or something much worse. The pain is often driven more by the fact that you want that artifact, that expression, to be a full representation of you. The reality is that it's only an artifact or an expression that comes from something that is built to repeat that process over and over again. From now on, make masterpieces over and over again. Give them more than is expected. And after you do it, THROW IT IN THE TRASH, and go back to the lab and do it again. You will be conditioning yourself for greatness. TRUST ME!

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