You are the artist of your life. Do not give the paintbrush to anyone else.

You are the artist of your life. Do not give the paintbrush to anyone else.

Such a simple, bold statement. It appears at face value to be self-explanatory. But is it really?

Life comes with so many choices. Each having exponential potential ramifications to contemplate as they fan out into ever greater outcomes.

I have tried at so many junctions to continually control my own metaphorical paint brush. And in many circumstances, I have found that I have painted myself into a corner. Looking at that circumstance through the parameters of said metaphor, I find that I am stuck in a position in which I must either remain static for a long enough period that the paint will dry or I am going to leave a bunch of foot prints and have to both repaint the floor and clean my feet as a direct result.

The joy of being self determining is, of course, a blessing and a burden and sometimes it is both at the same moment. It would be so much easier sometimes to just fall into a predictable regimen that facilitates the opportunity to know (presumably) that things will go as would be expected. But, having watched numerous others take this course of action, I would say with clear hindsight, that nothing is predictable. To the contrary, most of the predictable qualities are a complete illusion, subject to countless unforeseen variables that might well disrupt every aspect that had been relied upon in making what would appear to be a safer choice in life. 

Witness people who have opted for a lifetime career in an organization that promises them pension and retirement benefits. Within a reasonable period of time, we discover that any kind of stable industry might be entirely disrupted, and by virtue, nonexistent at a later point on the timeline. Look at Virgin Records or Barnes & Noble and other highly successful retail organizations that found themselves digitally disrupted by a start up with even higher ambition and a much better business model. What would appear safe at the outset is equally unstable in a financial world that is fully capable of disruption through both innovation as well as world issues.

So is it really safer to take the predictable route or is it smarter to stay nimble and facilitate one’s ability to gravitate to greener pastures as time and the world evolve?

By controlling the paintbrush and enabling me to continually evaluate choices, circumstances, opportunities as well as threats and defined concerns, I feel considerably more capable of recognizing the variables that stand to accelerate or decelerate my potential progress and thereby at a minimum giving me ample cause to learn from each of the times that I am cleaning my feet and painting over my footprints.

This is not even remotely to suggest that my choice to stay in control of my own destiny is the wiser of the two. If anything, it would appear to be considerably riskier than the other options. But, the solace comes from the continuous feeling of being master of one’s own destiny. Even during the most difficult chapters. When we find ourselves with our back against the wall and literally nothing to prevent us from failing, it is one of the most insecure and potentially terrifying chapters in life.

My stepson is a type A overachiever. Valedictorian of his class and the entire expanse of benefits that come with that mindset. My son is also a straight A student and both do not necessarily ascribe to the life choices that I am speaking to today.

As they were growing up, both have pointed out to me that I have backed myself up to the edge of a metaphorical cliff in which I am already leaning backwards over the cliff on a 45° angle with my arms flailing trying to keep balance. Even as I try to explain to them that I do my best work under these circumstances, the risk that I am willing to take in order to have these opportunities literally makes no sense to them whatsoever. And I think perhaps that is in part, a personality variable and most certainly it is not for someone who feels insecure or extremely cautious. That just does not work. Nor am I here to defend this as being either a wise choice or a good one, it is just who I am and what I am made of. This internal discovery is unquestionably what has focused my attention on the biographies of other people who have lived in a similar fashion and, as shared previously, is the reason I write any of this for those who are caught by the same wishes and desires in life.

Even those who opt for something that is more predictable should still retain control of their own paintbrush. It might be less adventurous to opt for choices that are more predictable and therefore more potentially reliable. This does not in and of itself create the inability to make one’s own painting come to fruition. It just changes the dynamic under which those paint strokes are made in both personal as well as professional circumstances.

The choices of who becomes our friends, our mentors, our spouse and ultimately how we choose to raise our children are all individual paint strokes that we are free to make in the course of a lifetime. Garnering reliable advice and solid education enables us to fully appreciate how and when we make said choices as well as the evaluation of what potential ramifications might arise from making those choices. One thing you discover as a parent, everyone has an opinion as to how you should raise your children. Some opinions are very valid and worthy of our consideration and others not so much.

From where I am sitting, remaining master of one’s own destiny is paramount to a life well-lived. 

Happy Wednesday!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!