History is thankful Monet took the Challenge

Sometimes we see, hear or do something that changes our lives forever.  

Monet’s ”Water lilies” was one of those pivotal life experiences for me.  I was 12 when I first saw them at the Art Institute in Chicago.  They transported me into a world of color and depth that fed my soul and felt like home.

monet water-lilies-1919-2

That visit sparked a life-long interest in Monet and his work. He was a man who took a challenge put before him, discovering a gift and a joy that would be part of his life forever.  Later, he founded the French Impressionism movement.  His life’s work and this particular style of expression inspired and influenced artists of his time and those that followed.

Currently, I’m reading Claude Monet’s biography.

I find it fascinating that he — who I associate with big beautiful ‘get lost’ in color artwork — actually started out with charcoal caricatures.

Story has it In 1856 Eugene Boudin invited him to come paint with him outside at 5 a.m.  Startled by this request, Claude laughs and responds,

“Why that early hour is unreasonable!!”

(my sentiments also).  Boudin responds, “Of course it is unreasonable!” He then tells Monet he’ll bring everything he needs — all the supplies, the easel, everything — all he needs to do is show up.

Eventually, he puts it as an outright challenge.  Boudin became his mentor and taught him to use oil paints as well as “en plein air” (outdoor) techniques for painting.

Thankfully for me, and much of the world, Claude Monet accepted that challenge. Once he got started, he never turned back and his new discovery and passion made him famous.  Wow! Thank goodness. I couldn’t imagine a world without Monet.

But what struck me about this story was Monet’s categorization of Boudin’s request as “Unreasonable.”

The definition of Unreasonable is “exceeding the bounds of reason or moderation, not guided by or based on good sense.”

Whether or not Claude actually said this, it started me thinking. What if he’d not taken the challenge? What if he’d let something stop him from getting up at O’too-early that morning?

How many wonderful things do we have because of those who have done unreasonable things?

Inventor’s sleepless nights, scientists exploring theories that others think are crazy.  Writers and artists battling their inner demons of an unnamed resistance – and  pursuing their creative inspiration and producing a completed work.  Entrepreneurs taking risks and being willing to fail, fail or succeed in front of everyone. Someone might think those things were unreasonable.

3 Take-aways from Monet:

1.  Take A Challenge.  There’s something in us that rises to a challenge.  It calls upon our superpowers, taps into a part of us that’s sleeping, and literally (and figuratively) wakes us up.  What can you present to yourself as a challenge to help you move forward toward your passion?  Maybe it’s simply the challenge of discovering  your passion?  If you’re stuck for ideas, start with a small challenge, like waking up 10 minutes earlier. Or if you’re ready for a big challenge, take a trip around the world.

2.  Be Equipped.   Boudin was equipped, thus so was Monet.  You need to have the ‘equipment’ and tools to succeed.  What do you need to equip yourself with for success in accomplishing your challenge? What resources do you need? Money? Time? People? Technology? Make a list!

3.  Try  “unreasonable” things.  This one is a biggie.

What can you do that might be a little unreasonable but could also be constructive in expressing your gifts?

Share your thoughts in a comment below – I’d love to cheer you on.

Just like Monet, if you answer the challenge, You might be surprised at the outcome — and history might be glad you did, too!