Great leaders in business, politics, the arts and science all have a single rallying cry… resist the tendency to conform. In order to become truly great, and move closer to your human potential, you must be eager to blaze a trail that will satisfy your innate curiosity and feed your passion for knowledge and challenge. While compliance may lead to steady and sturdy improvement, true greatness is never the product of blind, chin to the chest, grind it out conformity.
The nature of the human mind and spirit is one of explosion. As children, we moved outward from our very limited cache of experience into a world that oozed with sweet invitation to taste, touch, and feel. A swing set was much more than steel and chains and strips of rubber. It represented all that was exciting and new. It was the freedom of the wind blowing across our faces as we pulled and accelerated our bodies to higher highs. The swing set allowed us to feel weightless as we reached the top of our ever-increasing arc only to be interrupted by the pull of gravity tugging us back to the ground.
As children, we knew no boundaries and sought to push our limits. It wasn’t until we were instructed to “be careful to not go too high,” that we realized that our natural desire to experience thrill should be restrained. And so, we were taught to limit ourselves and stay within the norm. After all, life must be spent within the bell curve, right?
While we must follow our hearts in order to become our potential, achieving greatness, however, cannot be a random exercise in thrill-seeking and non-conformity for its own sake. Just as the swing set offers us a platform to experience ecstasy, the individual seeking to achieve his potential must create structures that will allow him to maximize his resources. The swing set, by its shape and design, allows the child to swing. If the steel bars were merely lying on the ground and the chains weren’t connected to the rubber seat in a way that allowed the child to sit and swing, then the parts of the set would be useless. It is the structure — the form and function of the swing set — that allows for swinging.
Pablo Picasso, one of the most renowned abstract artists of our time, first had to learn the rules of color and proportion before he could create vibrancy and disproportion. His mastery of structure gave him infinite license to become abstract. He did not however, allow the structure to limit the expression of his creativity. The same could be said for architect Frank Lloyd Wright, baseball great Ted Williams, The Beatles, retail tycoon Sam Walton, and social reformer Jane Adams. Each used structure and format as a catapult to express themself and achieve greatness.
Reaching your personal and professional potential depends upon your ability to cut the noose of conformity and express your unique capabilities and ideas. Go ahead. Get back on the swing and see if you can get it to go all the way around!
Resist the temptation to go along. Realize that to realize your full potential you must forge your own path.
Congratulations client, Evan Lysacek, on receiving the 2011 Sportsman of the Year award.
In Another’s Words…
“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther. ‘
— J.P. Morgan, industrialist