I used to own a folk art gallery. I represented artists who were self-taught and outside the mainstream of society in some way.
Outside the mainstream could mean they had developmental disabilities, mental health issues or even addiction issues.
But none of these things could stop them from making art.
Making art was probably the best decision they made all day. But it seemed less of a decision and more of a compulsion.
Make art or die.
Leonard lived in an old sharecropper’s shack in rural Georgia. He said ‘no’ to plumbing so he could say ‘yes’ to cigarettes. He chose gambling over dental care. He had no interest in driving even though he was miles from town.
When I went to buy his work—charming memory paintings he’d done on tin roofing material—he’d have the paintings spread out on the ground in between the fire ant hills. The tin sizzled in the Georgia sun. He’d painted the lines with a twig he’d snapped off a decades-old azalea bush.
He’d stand aside while I chose what I wanted, then he’d bum a ride to the Fast Times convenience store so he could cash my check. I never had to tell him not to smoke in the car.
We sold hundreds of his paintings.
I respect how this man, problems and all, lived so far outside the mainstream of society, yet still he managed to turn his passion into a living that sustained him.
Maybe you wouldn’t think of his life as particularly sustainable. I know I dream of something more than an old shack with holes in the floor and fire ants in the yard.
But we all have to define success and abundance for ourselves. According to our own values.
Leonard was living his life according to his values.
He didn’t worry about what his life “should” look like to other people.
He didn’t worry about what other people thought of his choices or his art.
He just created what he was moved to create in his own unique style.
People respond when you live your values.
People supported Leonard’s dream by buying his work. Against all logical explanation, he was able to share his work with an audience that loved it.
He did it all without facebook, without twitter, without pinterest. Half the time he called me collect because he’d used up all the minutes on his burner phone.
He did it by doing the work, day after day.
But there’s more to his success than the fact that he kept showing up every day, twig in hand, taking persistent, continuous action.
Leonard was unshakable in his resolve.
He didn’t want the laborer job that other men in similar circumstances might aspire to. He didn’t want the house, the car, the responsibility of fitting in.
He wanted to paint.
He wanted to make his living by using his talent and and indulging his passion. Every. Single. Day.
Without that unshakable resolve, Leonard would surely be living someone else’s life on someone else’s terms.
How unshakable is your resolve?
I ask because resolve is what makes Leonard’s story so compelling.
He knew how he wanted to live and what he wanted to share with the world. He resolved every day to make that happen.
Resolve is the one thing you must have to make the life of your dreams come true.
No second guessing yourself or making contingency plans or telling the Universe that you’ll settle for a fraction of what you really want.
I know I settle when my resolve is weak. My resolve is weak when I don’t really believe that I deserve what I want or that there is abundance enough in the world to flow to my dreams.
Resolve is the keystone of success, the piece that holds all the other pieces in place and keeps the whole dang thing from collapsing into a pile of rubble.
How unshakable is your resolve?
If it’s trembling a little, what do you need to do today to lock that keystone into place?
Leave a comment and tell me, on a scale of 1-10, how unshakeable is your resolve? If it’s less than a 10, tell yourself how you’re going to get to 10 then go do one thing to move you closer.