Picasso had to unlearn and so do you

I’ve watched this Ted talk below about 5 times and it is making me think of my kids, my work, and my relationships.  It reminded me of the experience I had with my oldest, Zoe, and the way she was ‘taught’ history.  She is not alone and this problem isn’t confined to schools.

At minute six of the TED Talk by Ken Robinson, below, he speaks about Picasso. His message is that we all start out with natural creativity and then ‘they‘ knock it out of us. It reminded me of my trip to Paris a couple years ago where my wife dragged me to the Picasso museum.

The museum is organized as a story: The first floor is his early work, then as you go up the levels, you follow his life chronologically.  The ground floor, what you see first, shows the work he created just out of school.  And what amazed me most was I didn’t recognize anything. His early work was perfect. He was the perfect, technical artist producing work that was like today’s photographs, demonstrating his ability to see something and draw, paint, or sculpt it perfectly. I only knew Picasso’s abstract work.

Those perfect works never sold because Picasso was like everyone else of his era and education.

As you go up the floors of the museum, you start to see eyes balls ‘outside’ of the face and you start to see his own progression.  By the time you get to the 3rd and 4th floors, you start to recognize the Picasso we all know.


When Picasso told his story in his own words, he explained that he had to ‘unlearn’ everything that school taught him. He had to start putting eye balls outside the face….he had to take risks, to be creative, to challenge the conventional, to think differently.

My company, Story Leaders, is my personal journey of unlearning what ‘they’ have taught me about work.  When I think about why I started my new venture it had everything to do with what corporate training departments across the world are doing to salespeople. For me, it was unacceptable.  I decided to create a business all about helping people search out the things that matter: authenticity, meaning, connection, passion, inspiration, self awareness, and empathy. We want our customers to begin un-wiring the things that stand in the way: The things they taught us.

To see more of what Ben has written, check out this excerpt from What Great Sales People Do.


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Categories: Featured, Learning

Author:Ben Zoldan

Demystifying what the most inspiring people do to influence change, Co-founder, Story Leaders and Co-author, What Great Salespeople Do: The Science of Selling Through Emotional Connection and the Power of Story

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