BLACK BELT LEADERSHIP
Black Belt Leader as Beginner: Part Two
“Every minute I’m a different man.” – Pablo Picasso
How do we maintain “beginner’s mind” and sustain a constantly fresh outlook, one that will give us clear insights – instead of dull, routine or unimaginative perceptions – so as leaders we may inspire those who follow us?
Arthur Rubinstein, the great classical pianist, had a response to the above question, and it came as a result of a lesson from Pablo Picasso. This is what he said: “You know Picasso and I are good friends, and we used to see each other a great deal. I used visit him while he was painting at his studio in Paris…Well, for some months I saw Picasso stand in front of his easel and paint a bottle of sherry, a table, a guitar that was lying around, and some banal ironwork on the balcony. I saw about fifty canvases of those same objects. I became a little impatient and also a little bored. I wanted to see a new Picasso! So, one day I said, ‘Look, here, Pablo, what is the matter with you? Aren’t you getting tired painting day after day always the same thing?’ Well, I saw a furious glance at me. He became really angry. ‘What rot are you talking to me? What stupid things are you telling me? Every minute I’m a different man, every hour there is a new light, every day I see that bottle with a completely different personality. It is another bottle, another table, another life in another world and everything is different!’ After a moment to catch my breath, I told him: ‘Pablo, you are completely right. I catch myself thinking the next morning in a completely different way about something I was proclaiming as true the day before.’ And it still is so….”
As in the arts, the real secret to becoming a Black Belt Leader is always be a beginner. This is not so easy to accomplish because of the connotation the word beginner carries in our culture: someone without much experience, an amateur, an individual who can’t be fully trusted in her job or position; someone of low competency. I mean, would you want to fly in a jet that was piloted by a beginner? Of course, you wouldn’t. It wouldn’t be safe.What Picasso was pointing out, though, is that one can be very experienced, a master, and still be able to see things afresh at every moment.
Personally, I would be more than happy to fly with a pilot who navigated the airways from this perspective…or follow a leader – a Black Belt Leader – who possessed this capacity of beginner’s mind.