Bam, Slam, Crash!
Startled out of a cozy dream, I jump out of bed and quickly look out the window to see a plastic patio chair flying across the backyard like a reckless pilot in an air show, banging into the gnarly twisted oaks, bouncing off the rocks, and bumping across the weeds until it gets stuck at the back fence.
The old screen door is slamming repeatedly as the wind moves it. The trees are rattling and swaying fiercely. You can hear the wind howl like a coyote. Perhaps spring really does roar in like a lion.
The Four Seasons
There is something profound about the seasons and their relationship to life. Spring is new beginnings and birth, summer is life, fall is old age, and winter is the freeze, the end. As I think about spring, I cannot stop thinking about new beginnings, about the excitement of seeing what blooms in life and in business. The seeds get planted at the start of the year, when we set goals and resolutions and the flowers will pop up soon.
I love everything about new beginnings. I love change, even though it’s our nature to resist it. I love to break what’s not broken, to disrupt what needs disrupting.
My wife, Laurie, loves to move furniture around, change out rugs, and disrupt our house. I’m always resistant at first, because I’m comfortable, settled, cozy. Yet, the change is always better; it makes me appreciate our home in fresh ways. It’s healthy to have our lives disrupted, even when it’s unpleasant at first.
But it’s hard to be disruptive, because, as my friend Roy Williams says, “It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle.” Some of us would rather just stay cozy.
Think about disruptions that have occurred in your life that you resisted or did not embrace, but that ended up making your life better. Disruptions are like spring flowers.
“If you had told me I’d…”
Fill in the blank. I hear it all the time.
We eventually embrace what we initially resist. We adapt. And usually, we see improvement in our lives.
But disruption in life, and businesses, rarely comes from ourselves. Our friend Dawn walked into our house last Sunday after church and pointed out a decorating idea we had not thought of. And it was better. But we could not see it because we look at the house every day.
Too Close to See It
Kodak held the patents on the digital camera. They invented it, but the executives of the company resisted it because it was not about film, which was the business they thought they were in.
A friend who was head of digital for the Washington Post claims he told executives that their Internet content would become more popular than their printed newspaper, but they did not believe him. So he was instructed not to publish stories on the Internet until the paper had been out for 24 hours.
The way to disrupt is to look at the way things are done, find what you hate about it, figure out how to break it, and figure out what would make it better. People on the inside can rarely see what they should be doing, how they should be changing. Instead, people from the outside can disrupt because they see what can be better. Elon Musk, a co-founder of Paypal, looked at rockets and made them better, looked at cars and made them better. Jeff Bezos looked at books, and distribution, and made all of our lives better.
Why does this matter?
Disruption makes things and people better.
My grandfather had a business selling meat slicers, scales, and meat cases. Supermarkets disrupted him, put packaged meat out, and his business died. He could not see it because he was on the inside.
My goal, as a business owner, is to try to break it at every possible opportunity. It’s not easy, because I cannot see what I need. That’s also true in life. I need others to help me see how my life could be better. We all do.
By making a point to seek feedback, even things we don’t want to hear, we get better. We grow. We change, and we make ourselves or our businesses better. And we need to continually do this to ourselves even though we resist.
Are you set in your ways?
Do you need to be disrupted?
Are you stuck and don’t know it?
Do you have someone who can help you disrupt?
If you want to get disrupted, listen to your kids. They are willing to point out how we need to change, and I’ve found that they are right more often than not.
We’ve all had terrible things happen to us, disasters, deaths, and other unpleasant things, and we come out on the other side different in some ways. I did not like when my dad died, but I grew up in new ways because of it (which he had told me happened to him when my grandfather died).
Embrace disruption. Embrace change. Seek others who can help you disrupt. Life will be more interesting and invigorating.
After all, comfort is nice, but being stuck isn’t.
PS: If you hang with me this year, you’ll see some very interesting disruptions. I can’t tell you more.
One disruption we were forced into because of COVID was launching virtual conferences to replace our in-person events that were canceled. We learned that thousands of people who could not attend in person love the three-day conferences online. And we are continuing them beyond quarantines because people are getting value. Our next one is PleinAir Live, which is March 9-12. Join us by visiting pleinairlive.com. Disrupt yourself by learning to paint.
Here are some things going on at my company, Streamline Publishing, Inc.
PleinAir Salon Entry Deadline
$30,000 Art Competition/Deadline: February 28, 2022
Enter this monthly online competition to win cash prizes and recognition. Monthly category winners will be entered into the annual competition, where the Grand Prize is $15,000 cash and the cover of PleinAir Magazine.
Enter one of our 18 categories in plein air and studio painting.
3rd Annual PleinAir Live Virtual Conference
Virtual Event: March 9-12, 2022
Beginner’s Day: March 9
March 6 is the last day to save up to $300 on a ticket.
Replays available if you can’t make the date.
PleinAir Magazine presents PleinAir Live, a 4-day online training event featuring 30 of the world’s top landscape and plein air artists doing demonstrations and presentations. Join thousands of artists from around the world to take your work to the next level and learn about the plein air lifestyle and how to become a part of it.
9th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo
In-Person Event: May 16-20
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Basics Course: May 16
Kevin Macpherson Pre-Convention Workshop: May 16-17
Main Event: 17-20
March 17 is the last day to save $400 on a ticket.
Plein Air Magazine presents the 9th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo, a gathering of plein air artists and over 60 top instructors teaching on multiple stages in multiple mediums. Daily painting at a group in iconic locations. Giant Expo Hall of plein air-specific art materials. Art Marketing Boot Camp. Attendance limited.
11th Annual Publisher’s Invitational Paint Out in the Adirondacks
Artist Retreat: June 11-18, 2022
Location: Paul Smith’s College Near Saranac Lake, NY
Join Eric Rhoads, publisher of Inside Art, PleinAir, and more, for a one-week artist retreat, painting in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. Paint with the group or alone, all meals and lodging provided. Meet new friends, paint multiple pieces daily. All meals together, plus group events, cocktail parties, singing and music, portrait painting, and more. A great way to get better fast or to learn the ropes of plein air painting. This is not a workshop or training event.
7th Annual Fall Color Week
Artist Retreat: October 6-13, 2022
Location: Acadia National Park, Maine
Join Eric Rhoads, publisher of Inside Art, PleinAir, and more, for a one-week artist retreat, painting in the beautiful fall color during peak color week at Acadia National Park in Maine. Paint with the group or alone, all meals and lodging provided. Meet new friends, paint multiple pieces daily. All meals together, plus group events, cocktail parties, lobster dinner, singing and music, portrait painting, and more. A great way to get better fast or to learn the ropes of plein air painting. This is not a workshop or training event.
Painting Trip and Tour: September 15-29, 2022
A rare opportunity to paint in the cities and countryside of Russia, along with sightseeing, museum visits (including a private entry into the Hermitage Museum), art studio visits, visits to the two great art academies, and painting with Russian masters. The trip starts in St. Petersburg, then to the small villages inland, then to Moscow, and ends with the village and exact paint spots painted by the great Russian masters like Repin, Serov, Levitan, and others. Hosted by Eric Rhoads. Limited to 50 people. Join the waiting list. This is a one-time trip; it will not be repeated.