Did Picasso Paint for the Money?

Did Picasso Paint for the Money?

No.

Did Einstein do all he did for the cash?

No.

Did Hemingway write for the money?

No.

They did it what they did for the pure joy.  They did if because they loved what they did. They did it because they had to do it or they would have felt unfulfilled. They had a talent and they used it.

How about you?

Do you want to be great at something?  Find something that you love to do .  Do what you do  because you love it. Do it because this is what you were born to do.

Do you know anyone who is great at something because of the money they get?  Please don’t mention Donald Trump.  He’s far from great, unless you consider self promotion genius.

The most effective executives I have coached didn’t work for the money, even though they were paid well.  They did their job because they wanted to achieve a level of excellence, they did it because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, they did it because they wanted to teach and learn. Many of them were really great.

You might think they could afford to not focus on money because they had money. But I’m sorry you have it backwards.  In most cases, they had the same traits when they were young. They never worked for the money.  They worked to achieve a level of excellence.

And if you want to  be great at something, “Olympic level greatness”, get into something where you can really develop and show your strengths.  Get out of that company that gives you a list of “development needs” and “target key performance objectives”.  These are the kinds of companies that will drive the life out of you.

Find somewhere, something, some one who recognizes your strengths and go full throttle to active greatness in what you do.


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  1. Steve Scholl says:

    Provocative thoughts indeed… but I have to take the opposite view. I don’t know about Picasso… but I suspect there are an equal number of superlative creators who worked, first and foremost, for the money: Johann Sebastian Bach had a huge family to support and worked ceaselessly throughout his long life at thankless tasks (e.g., teaching untalented children to play musical instruments that they never could master), while simultaneously turning out the greatest musical works of western culture: every Sunday a complete cantata for performance in church, the keyboard concertos that created the forms still followed today, countless works for organ, and so much more. Bach wrote the Brandenberg Concertos, pinnacles of baroque music, as a job application, in the hopes of getting hired to produce more (the music failed to achieve what he hoped, but what a legacy for us.) Mozart worked throughout his short life to pay the bills, and never quite had enough money. His work hardly suffered from being created for monetary reasons. Michelangelo served a series of difficult taskmasters and willingly got paid for it. In the end, what counts, I suspect, is not the motive, but the store of talent.