Do you remember the scene from Forrest Gump when Forrest is alone in the Army gymnasium playing ping pong against the wall? An officer walks up to Forrest and says, “I have your discharge papers. Your service is up, son.” The officer hands Forrest an envelope. Forrest asks, “Does this mean I can’t play ping pong no more?” The officer responds, “For the Army it does.”
And just like that, Forrest’s service in the United States Army was over. Forrest grabbed his paddle and ran out of the gym. He went home.
When Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, did he use a canvas that already had a previous sketching? Or some doodles? No – he started with a blank canvas.
When Forrest ran through the gymnasium door, his life essentially became a blank canvas. Suddenly there was a clean space for him to paint a new life picture.
Is real change possible when your canvas is already filled with previous sketchings and drawings and doodles?
Here is why real change or masterpieces only start with a blank canvas.
Imagine three boxes, all filled with stuff.
Box #1 is called your career. The box is filled with a job, projects, assignments, meetings, goals, tasks, and an overflowing email inbox – how easy is it to put something new into the box?
Box #2 is called your relationships. This box has a husband or wife, kids, extended family, and close friends – how easy is it to put someone new into this box?
Box #3 is called your kitchen. Your kitchen box is filled with dishes in the sink, leftovers removed from the refrigerator and placed on the counter, and soup boiling in a pot on the stove – how easy is it to put ‘start cooking a new gourmet meal’ into that box?
In all three cases, the answer is: It’s practically impossible to put more in the box – the boxes are already full.
When Forrest ran through the gymnasium door, he was free to start whatever new chapter of his life he wanted. He chose to become a shrimp boat captain after a brief stop at home – his career box was suddenly empty. While he was still in the Army, his career canvas was already painted over, and there was no place to draw the shrimp boat captain chapter of his life.
Real change – transformation – only occurs when you remove stuff from a box.
Something new is only created when you begin your work of art on a blank canvas.
What’s in your box of life that you want to dispose of?
What masterpiece would you paint on your life canvas if it suddenly was wiped clean?
Next Blog Title: Creativity and ‘Crazy’ Inspiration
Next Blog Date: January 31, 2011