Sometimes a new client will tell me of an ambitious, exciting idea and then nuke it from orbit by saying “but I don’t know why I need to keep proving myself.”
All of their excitement about creating something new in the world — maybe it’s a new company, a growth opportunity, or a creative project — all of that excitement GONE in an instant because of the idea that we should “prove” ourselves a few times and then stop.
Here’s a thought to consider: What if there was no need to ever prove yourself? What if all of that energy instead went into expressing yourself?
Expressing can lead to much more openness and excitement than proving.
Where proving must fail or succeed, expression is just expression. Where proving is binary and finite, expression can continue forever. Where proving has a clear objective, expression can follow infinite paths.
Someone who expresses never needs to evaluate the outcome. Someone who expresses also never needs to stop expressing – they can continue to do things for the intrinsic joy of doing them long after the tangible "proof" has piled up.
Artists already know this. They live to express. Unlike most people in business, many artists never retire and continue to work until the end of their lives. How rewarding!
Pablo Picasso proved himself young. One of his most famous paintings was finished when he was 26. But he didn't use that as an excuse to stop painting.
Picasso painted almost nonstop from the age of seven until his very last moments — at 3 a.m. on the morning before he died, age 91.
That's 84 years of painting! Picasso continued painting long after he was rich and had proven himself to be successful and creative.
Take a look at Picasso's constant evolution through a lifetime of self portraits. The level of depth he explored looks fantastically rewarding.
How different would art be if Picasso had stopped expressing himself once he became rich and famous? How much more boring would his life have been?
I would rather live a life with 84 years of expression than one with a brief, successful career followed by never "proving" myself again.
What if we found ways to express ourselves right up until our last moments?
How much more exciting and creative could life be?
To me that sounds a lot more fun than early retirement.
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