Quote from Pablo Picasso on The Conquering Zero

Thursday Thoughts: Pablo Picasso

It’s an absolutely beautiful day outside. I love all of the colours of fall and I’m thankful that I live somewhere that has four seasons (although I may change my mind on that one in mid-January). As I type this, I can see over the top of my monitor through the window to my backyard, where red and gold leaves are falling at an impressive rate. Note to self: take more walks this week before the colours are all gone!

Carrying this positivity forward into my schoolwork, here’s a quote from the one and only Pablo Picasso to mull over:

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

The concept of learning to do by doing should be simple. What complicates things is perfectionism and fear of failure. This is more of an issue for some people (me) than for others. It’s unpleasant to think about because pride is an ugly thing.

Having your achievements celebrated from a young age is both a blessing and a curse. I’m not boasting–I’m sure many of us have experienced this. But being celebrated would not be a problem if we didn’t absorb that praise and turn it into a mandate not to fail.

It’s a combination of finding self-worth in our work and hating to be wrong. What will happen if I try something and it looks terrible? What if I swing on the monkey bars and can’t make it all the way across?

What if I embarrass myself?

Every good problem-solver knows that the first step to overcoming a challenge is to define it. I know why this quote from Picasso churns my insides and makes me feel guilty. This might be true for you too. But look what an attitude of trying new techniques and ideas led to in Picasso’s work!

I don’t want to be heavy-handed, so I’ll leave it at this: failure is always an option. We can’t be afraid to try something new and see what happens. Our profs tell us to take risks while we’re still in school because that is the best place to make mistakes and learn from them.

I’m going to try to make more mistakes. How about you?


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