When I was a kid, I was engrossed with one activity: skateboarding. I spent hours each week, riding back and forth in front of our house, trying to master any trick I could think of. I built ramps, and since I didn’t understand the necessary geometry to make the perfect ramp, I usually had to immediately rebuild them to make them better. I rode hard, and I crashed hard. I bought skateboards, and I broke them. I made my identity all about being a skateboarder.
The trouble was that I wasn’t that great at it. I was the only kid with a skateboard for blocks, so that meant I rode alone. When you practice a skill alone, there are certain limitations that are inherent to the endeavor. Without someone to encourage you, you give up easier. Without someone to teach you, you get stuck on techniques that work against you. Without someone to challenge you, you don’t expect enough of yourself. And, without someone to share the experience with, you remain disconnected from the community, the bigger picture, that you long to be part of.
Last week, my friend Noah celebrated his birthday. Noah and I have known each other since high school, but we reconnected a few years ago, and he has had a big influence on me ever since. You see, Noah is the most strategic and focused individual that I know in a world of creatives. He has made a successful career out of his painting, and he is very purposeful on refining his skill, improving his industry, mentoring others, and touching the lives of people wherever he goes. Noah has never “sat me down” and given me his two cents, but he doesn’t need to. I see how he operates, I observe his best practices, and I respect his intentionality.
It is no coincidence that my writing shifted into second gear when Noah and I reconnected. He has encouraged and challenged me to be who I was created to be. So, if you are reading this Noah, thank you for the impact you have had on my creativity. Check him out at www.NoahFineArt.com