Every Act of Creation Is First an Act of Destruction

October 1, 2014

Creating something new usually requires us to let go of something old. As Pablo Picasso said, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”

Transitions are painful because they destroy the status quo, pushing us beyond our comfort zones. Times of change are most excruciating for those most deeply vested in the old way of doing things.

New Growth

“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” – Pablo Picasso

Like many companies, my employer (the American Red Cross) is undergoing yet another major, national reorganization. The details have yet to be finalized, but one this is certain: Things will change. Dramatically!

We are in that phase of the creative process focusing on “destruction” (to use Picasso’s word). Within a few weeks, however, we should learn the details of the “act of creation.”

Uncertainty abounds. The winds of change continue to howl around us. Though I’m uncertain of many things, of this I am certain: Those who thrive in the new reality will be those who embrace Picasso’s wisdom. They will understand that something is being destroyed so something new can be created.

Not everything makes sense, but I’ll sort through the confusion and figure out how to succeed in this new reality. As I move forward, I’ll keep reminding myself of what Henry Miller, the American author, once said: “Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.”

The futurist Alvin Toffler paralleled Picasso’s sentiment when he said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

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The Night when Everything Changed

February 9, 2014
http://bit.ly/1iCEKZQ

Paul McCartney shows his guitar to host Ed Sullivan before the Beatles’ live television appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in New York, Feb. 9, 1964. *

Sometimes out of the clear blue, something unexpected happens. You didn’t see it coming. You didn’t fully understand it at the time.

Yet in retrospect you realize you have experienced a watershed moment, an event when everything changed.

Fifty years ago tonight I saw something that had historic significance, though as a young boy I had no idea what was happening.

I was only half watching the TV when Ed Sullivan announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles!” Suddenly, the black and white tube became a magnetic force that drew me closer.

I remember two things about that night.

First, I loved the music. I’d never heard anything like it. At that moment, I became a life-long Beatles fan.

Second, my parents and their friends hated the music. In retrospect, I think they reacted negatively because they were merely unable to comprehend what was happening. After all, the culture at that time looked and sounded nothing like those iconic lads from Liverpool. (Years later, my mom admitted that the Beatles made some pretty good music.) Read the rest of this entry »


What to Do When United Way Moves Your Cheese

January 6, 2010

I just finished re-reading the classic little book Who Moved My Cheese? It gave me a better understanding of what is happening in the nonprofit community—not just here in Kansas City, but across the nation.

For many years, the national United Way system has been struggling to redefine itself. Its leaders have created new methods for allocating money, and somehow they believe that “moving the cheese around” will make their cause more attractive to donors who have, over the years, found United Way to be waning in relevance.

That logic escapes me. In my opinion, United Way will become less relevant as it leaves gaping holes in human services programs. I guess you could call it their “Swiss cheese model” for meeting human needs. I assume United Way realizes that its decision to cut much-needed funding will actually force established, well-respected organizations such as the American Red Cross to compete more directly with them for contributions from within the same donor pool.

Personal Disclosure

To be transparent, I must disclose two important facts about myself before I continue sharing my opinions.

First, I am responsible for marketing at the American Red Cross of Greater Kansas City, the single largest recipient of United Way allocations in this region. Though I am employed by the Red Cross, this blog post has been written on my personal time and entirely reflects only my own opinions, not those of my employer.

Second, before coming to the Red Cross I served as the vice president of marketing for the United Way of Greater Kansas City. Because I have always had great respect for the organization and its mission, I am both a Diamond Donor (meaning I’ve given for 25+ years) and I’m also a member of the Leadership Giving Circle. However, in the weeks ahead I intend to reevaluate whether United Way is the wise investment I once thought it was.

By the way, I have many friends who work at United Way. They are exceptionally professional individuals and nothing I say here is a personal indictment of them or anyone else. Read the rest of this entry »


More Wisdom for Life’s Transitions

October 22, 2009
  1. The world fears a new experience more than it fears anything.  Because a new experience displaces so many old experiences…The world doesn’t fear a new idea.  It can pigeon-hole any idea.  But it can’t pigeon-hole a real new experience. D.H. Lawrence
  2. Every path to a new understanding begins in confusion. Mason Cooley
  3. The middle of every successful project looks like a disaster. Rosabeth Moss Cantor
  4. When things reach maturity, they decay of themselves. Lao Tzu
  5. Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you…Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition. Florida Scott-Maxwell Read the rest of this entry »

Wisdom for Life’s Transitions

October 20, 2009
  1. Most people do not resist change. What we resist is transition. Change is a situational shift. Transition, on the other hand, is the process of letting go of the way things used to be and then taking hold of the way they subsequently become. In between the letting go and the taking hold again, there is a chaotic but potentially creative “neutral zone” when things aren’t the old way, but aren’t really a new way yet either. William Bridges
  2. Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not yet understood. Henry Miller
  3. There is a time for departure, even when there’s no certain place to go. Tennessee Williams
  4. Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. Anonymous
  5. The door into life generally opens behind us, and a hand is put forth which draws us in backwards. George MacDonald Read the rest of this entry »

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