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Paulo Coelho tells the story of the painter Henri Matisse who used to visit the great Renoir regularly.
As Renoir became more ravaged by arthritis, Matisse arrived on a daily basis, taking brushes, paint and food for the ailing artist.
Matisse would watch Renoir paint and every time the brush touched the canvas the master painter would wince in pain.
“Master, you have already created a vast and important body of work, why continue torturing yourself in this way?”
Many of us would like to create at least one masterpiece in our lifetime.
Write a book like Hemingway.
Paint a picture like Rembrandt.
Write a song like Lennon.
Brain surgeons are allowed (in my opinion at least) to be scumbags. They have my permission (for what it’s worth) to act how they want, say what they want, have a terrible attitude, a haughty sense of entitlement and complain about everything and everyone.
I have two reasons.
Firstly, they are really hard to replace. It takes a lot of intelligence, discipline, skill and training to become a brain surgeon. I know that I couldn’t become one, and I’m guessing that you couldn’t either. I don’t want to limit your potential, but I’m probably right. Brain surgeons don’t grow on trees, so I’m OK for them to act like scumbags because we don’t get a lot of choice about whether we get the nice brain surgeon or the surly one.
Secondly, brain surgeons save people’s lives. They do pretty amazing and complex work that significantly benefits our society, so they are allowed to balance this out with a terrible attitude.
We don’t have that option.
Avalanches are incredibly destructive forces that take all before them.
They are often initiated by a loud noise, then the snow begins to build up, gradually gathering momentum until it becomes an unstoppable force.
Why not start one of our own?
I’m sure that you’ve heard the old saying, “Give a man a fish and he’ll have food for a day, teach him how to fish and he’ll have food for a lifetime.”
It’s a terrific principle when working with people living in poverty and trying to assist them to get back on their feet.
It’s also a key principle to be conscious of when leading people.
If you want a successful organisation or enterprise, equipping people for a day won’t help you much.
As a sports fan, I am conscious of how easy it can be for an athlete to fall out of form and how challenging it can be to fire on all cylinders again.
A few times this year, I have also been conscious that there are occasionally areas of my life when I’ve been out of form. It may be in my role as a husband, parent, leader or christian, but I can sometimes get in a bad rut that can be a challenge to break out of.
Form slumps are normal and most of the all-time greats have experienced them at some stage of their careers, so it’s only natural that we will go periods of time when we’re not performing at our best.
So how can you break out of a form slump?
On his blog, John C. Maxwell recently showed a video clip for a message that he was delivering. He started to tell this story (or at least a derivative of it) when his own attitude was tested with humourous consequences.
He never got to finish the original story, so I searched for it and found this version on Kent Crockett’s site.
Two construction workers had taken a lunch break and opened up their lunch boxes.
One of them looked inside his box and said, “Not baloney sandwiches again! I can’t believe it. I hate baloney. This is the third time this week I’ve had baloney. I can’t stand baloney!”
The other one said, “Why don’t you just ask your wife to make you something different?”
It’s a common question, “When is the best time to take action?”
My response would be, “right now!”
Too many times we wait around for the right time, the right economic conditions, the right people to give us their tacit approval, the right whatever half-baked excuse we use to procrastinate and not take action.
If you want to be successful in any area of life, assume that the light’s always green.
It’s the standard comment that most of us make on a Monday morning.
So many of us need that morning caffeine fix to get us up and running for the day.
But what if there was another way to get us going?
There’s a story about two brothers who appeared on an American talk show.
The first one came out and told his story.
He was divorced, broke, unemployed, angry about life, unable to control his emotions and had problems with alcohol abuse.
When asked why he thought he was this way he responded, “What choice do I have? My father was an abusive alcoholic and I was destined to turn out like this, it’s all his fault!”
Then the second brother came out.