Brilliant lime green blades of grass are popping up among the old dry winter grasses here at my Austin, Texas, property. Little buds are starting to force their way through the dirt, and if we’re lucky, some colorful spring flowers will soon decorate our flower beds. Warm bright sunshine is providing nourishment to my light-starved soul, which is ready for winter and frigid temperatures to take a vacation for about eight months.
An Exhausting but Fun Week
If you see a typo or two this morning, forgive me. I’m dragging. Exhausted from hosting four days of 8-plus-hour days on a live stream for our PleinAir Live event, which had a massive audience of landscape artists. We had over 30 top instructors doing demonstrations, and people tuning in from all corners of the earth. If you were a part of that group, I deeply appreciate your participation. I’m totally ready for a vacation. Maybe I’ll be spontaneous and take one.
You Wanna Go Where?
Decades ago, when my wife worked for an airline, spontaneity guided a hectic travel schedule. Though I was busily starting my business and working 17-hour days, seven days a week, if my wife got a weekend off or a long weekend, we would take an unplanned trip. On Thursday afternoon or Friday we would drive to the airport, look at the monitor overhead, pick an interesting flight to someplace we had never been, and if there was space, we would board the aircraft and fly for free. We could even upgrade to First Class for an extra $50 at the time, and if it was an overseas flight, we could upgrade for $150. (We rarely did that because we had so little money.) We would then arrive and visit a hotel that had discounts for airline employees. We always managed to find a room. When I’ve told friends about this, they’ve often reacted with a gasp. “I could never do that! I plan my travel months in advance.”
When I was a kid, we rarely took a family vacation because of my dad’s busy work schedule. But one Saturday morning Dad woke us all early and said, “Pack a bag — we’re going to be gone for a week. We’re leaving in one hour.” He did not tell us where we were going.
A Lifetime Memory
We got in the old blue 1964 Oldsmobile and drove east, but he refused to tell us where we were going. My brothers and I kept guessing as we would see road signs, but we were always wrong. After about two days of driving, we saw a sign for New York City, and we drove into Manhattan, pulled up at a swanky hotel, and Dad said, “We’re home.” We then went to the 1965 World’s Fair, which was very cool.
I suppose my spontaneity gene came from my dad and our frequent last-minute adventures. Laurie and I had someone come to the door wanting to buy our house, and three weeks later we were living in a different city because we thought it would be fun. We’ve told ourselves we wanted to move about every decade. We get to know a city, make friends, then go elsewhere and do it again. Though we may be missing out on the security of a lifetime in one place, we’ve been invigorated by change.
What about you?
What invigorates you?
In what ways are you spontaneous?
Nuts for Ruts
We all have our routines that become ruts. We tend to repeat the same routines daily — we go to the same restaurants, we hang with the same people, we go to the same church. Sometimes we’ll go weeks in a rut, and I’ll just want to scream, “Get me outta here!” Then I’ll look for something I’ve never done before, just to break the ruts.
Boredom Drives Me
People sometimes ask how I’ve built so many businesses, and the answer is simple. I get bored and have to find new things to occupy my time. I still love them, I never let go of them or sell them, but if I don’t have a new project every couple of years, it drives me insane. And my team will tell you I drive them nuts because I’ll drop in a few spontaneous projects a year. Sometimes they are a waste of time and a distraction, and sometimes they are a success. But in every case, I’ve broken my boredom and I’ve learned something.
In the last two years we’ve seen more change than ever. “Life is short, then you die” has been a little too close to home.
What have you never done because you lacked the courage?
What do you have to lose?
How will you feel when you look back from your deathbed, not having completed that dream?
What are you waiting for?
You are capable of almost anything. You don’t even have to know how to do it, you simply have to commit to it and start. The answers will be revealed to you as you seek them.
I want to encourage you to be spontaneous, to have some fun, to get out of your rut, and to revisit your dreams, and then launch them. You can do this — no special skills, no special gifts.
If we were all a little like Elon Musk, who comes up with ideas and then drives them to the moon, we would have a richer, more meaningful life.
Oh, and it’s not about money (though it can be). What drives people like Musk is the challenge of proving to himself and naysayers that the impossible is possible. That has always driven me.
I can look back on billion-dollar ideas I had that I never acted on, only to see someone else do it five years later. I’m done doing that. I’m going to go for it.
Are You READY to Be Spontaneous?
Spontaneity requires an idea, then a bold move to go forward. Do one thing today that is completely fresh, new, and spontaneous. You’ll get addicted. Trust me.
PS: Years ago I had this spontaneous idea to create a giant dinner party with a few hundred artists. I dreamed we would all sit around a huge table, eat together, paint together, and the best would teach the rest of us. When I awoke from that dream, I pulled the trigger immediately and started working on my dream for the Plein Air Convention, a five-day event of painting, training, and lots of fun and friends. Naysayers were critical and shot the idea down. People told me no one would ever come, yet this May we’ll be sold out, and probably have 1,200 people, our biggest yet.
Some people have told me, “I’m not good enough to come,” or, “I don’t know anyone,” or, “I’m not good at plein air painting,” or “I’m not sure I’ll fit in.” Stop the excuses and be spontaneous. You’ll never regret it.
I’ll be wearing green this week on Thursday. I think I’ll go paint something green. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
Here’s what’s happening at my company Streamline at the moment…
Our next virtual event, Pastel Live, is happening in August. About 40% of the people who attended PleinAir Live have already signed up. It’s going to be fun, fun, fun!