From Where I Sit – Observation 2

This is a series of musings from my big leather (really broken-in – to the point of broken-down) chair.

 

 

  • Excellence is only achieved by the passionate. No one achieves excellence in any field without being passionate about it. I think that we have assumed that being passionate was a sort of intrinsic desire that people have about one specific thing in their life (i.e. Paul McCartney with music, Leonardo DaVinci with art), and that they would have never achieved greatness without finding that one thing that stirred their passion. On the other hand, what if these artists were, by nature, passionate people and would have excelled in another area had their opportunities been different? The key to excellence is surely passion – and here’s another observation: the key to building an audience is passion. People will follow passion… even misguided passion, such as that of Adolph Hitler. Perhaps we should strive to be passionate people rather than trying to find something that fires our passions. It might seem like a subtle difference, but it could make all the difference. It would help us live out the mantra, carpe diem. This phrase is commonly translated as “seize the day,” however, a more accurate translation is “pluck the day,” as in picking fruit while it is ripe. It is actually part of a longer quote from the poet Horace, which is: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero (Pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the future). In other words, go for it today, there is no guarantee of tomorrow (my translation). What if we lived each day as if it might be our last? How would you live differently?

It is important that we recognize the responsibility that comes with this approach. Since people are attracted to (and will follow) passion, it is important that we direct our passions toward worthy causes. That should be a given. Still… imagine living a life in which you attacked each new day with passion and drive to do something significant, something artistic… something great! Sure beats “living for the weekend,” huh?

From Where I Sit – Observation 1

This is a series of musings from my big leather (really broken-in – to the point of broken-down) chair.

 

 

  • Excellence will make a place for itself. While there is much consternation about the direction things are going in today’s economy and employment situation, I believe that, in some ways, we are moving into the most pure form of a free market society we have ever experienced. I recently read about the bleak outlook for teachers as online learning began to broaden in frequency and scope. The article I was reading talked about a future where school students would watch a teacher, who was recognized for his or her excellence on a specific subject, teach a class on a video monitor or computer screen. This would lessen the demand for teachers by only requiring someone to monitor the classroom, not requiring any particular knowledge in the specific subject being taught. This is a frightening prospect for tenured teachers, who could suddenly find themselves out of work. On the other hand, it would be a marked improvement for the students who would now hear one of the best teachers in the nation in each subject being taught, on a daily basis. While the job pool is becoming smaller, due in part to technological advances and automation, the rewards for being transcendent are higher than ever because of the greater access to large audiences via internet and mass media. While an excellent teacher, musician, or artist that lived in a rural area had limited access to any measurable fan base or market share in the past, now any great performance has the potential to “go viral,” thereby reaching a massive audience. It makes the true artists in any field more accessible… and indispensable than ever before.