Last night I had the privilege to address the University of Southern Indiana's Ad Club. My first born, Lady Maegan, is President of the Club and one of my old college mates is its Advisor.
It was fun to see the wide-eyed youthful sponges soaking in my every word, so I made sure that each one counted. Among the hour presentation and question and answer session I wanted to make an important impression on two keys to a successful career, or for that matter, a successful life. Both involve the key word and mantra...BREAK.
1. You have to know the rules to BREAK the rules.
2. If it ain't broke...BREAK IT!
The first was a lesson I learned from the head of my department when I was in college. Dr. Frank Blodget challenged my Senior Directing Class to write and produce a video project by breaking all the rules we had learned in class. His one and only rule was that we had to be able to explain each rule we broke and why it worked in the context that we used it.
It was a brilliant lesson in awareness and thinking outside the box before that phrase and box where invented. Awareness in the fact that we had to learn all the rules in order to best decide how to break them to create a new order. Thinking outside the box as a new way to present familiar concepts in an unfamiliar way.
Dr. Blodget shared that when you break the rules without knowing why, or just to break them because, you always get in trouble. However, if you break the rules and can explain clearly why you broke them to create something even more dynamic then your work gets noticed and rewarded. These same concepts apply to life too.
The second key is really a more dramatic way to make rule breaking a creative process. My whole life I never had much patience for those who follow the thought and process in life of, "If it ain't broke...don't fix it." This somewhat relates back to my earlier post on having an open or liberal mind, as opposed to a conservative or closed mind. There's great comfort in "it ain't broke"; however, true creativity is rarely a comfortable process.
My mantra in life and my profession is, "If it ain't broke...BREAK IT!" When I'm most comfortable is when I become aware it's time to break it again. It's a never ending process much like evolution. It's where the term "Break Through" comes in, whether it be how computer graphics and real life action can now blend seamlessly to create environments never before thought possible in movies, or a chef who creates a new desert of vanilla ice cream and mango salsa with a boiled shrimp on top.
Unless you "Break Through" or "Break It" there are no new ways presented, no exploration accomplished, no advancement made. "Break Troughs" is why I'm writing this blog to be posted on a computer network that is shared across the globe instead of writing a letter with quill and ink hoping to be discovered decades later by just a few. It's why I'm staying warm this morning in my gas furnace insulated home, instead of hunching over a fire at my fire pit in the woods.
Don't get me wrong. There are times when it's necessary to return to the comfort zone or more primitive ways; however, to stay there is not where your life is. As much as I love the Middle Ages, I can't live there. As much as I loved how productive and successful I was yesterday, it's a new day today. We are created to move. As I like to quote one of my favorite black bartender's, "Life is nothin' but a move my man!"
So get out those hammers, battle axes, pens or whatever instrument you use to "Break It" and make some noise and get noticed today!
Sir Hook the BREAK DANCER of Warrick