Seeing The Masterpiece

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

Michaelangelo Buonarroti

Growing up, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were cool, dangerous, funny, and always saved the day. Being into art, I also liked that they were named after famous Renaissance master artists. It got me to look into each of those artists as I grew up, and even drove me to visit Italy for a month on my own, but that’s a story for another Wednesday.

Michaelangelo (the sculptor, not the turtle) created multiple of the most famous sculptures in the world, and worked at every one to bring out from the stone the sculpture he saw in his head. While not all of us are sculptors, we all are working on a masterpiece of our own. Becoming manager, writing that book, creating that game, being a good spouse or parent: we each have that ultimate goal we started chasing sometimes years ago.

Over time, that masterpiece can be harder to see, or what we’re doing isn’t what we imagined in our head of what it was supposed to be. Like an errant golf ball or a dog that flopped into a lake, we can get lost in the weeds.

We have to remind ourselves what our masterpiece is supposed to look like.

There’s a great book by Rich Christiansen called the Zig Zag Principle. He describes it a bit differently than I do, but the idea is the same.

As you pursue your masterpiece, your perspective changes. You can see new ideas, new challenges, new information that you didn’t have when you started. Is the stone chipping too easily? Are your tools too dull? Did you not have the right tools?

You may finish a statue and have it not be the masterpiece you wanted it to be. Does that mean you failed? Only if you don’t keep trying, and learn from the mistakes you’ve made to not make them again. We can only hope to be as tenacious in our pursuit of our masterpieces as Edison was about inventing the lightbulb:

“I have not failed 700 times. I’ve succeeded in proving 700 ways how not to build a lightbulb.”

Thomas Edison

Keep pursuing, keep trying, keep climbing, keep creating.

Maybe someday someone will name their turtle after us.

Cowabunga, dude.

See you next Wednesday.

Chris Jabas