Pablo Picasso said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” My 11th grade high school english teacher told us that ee cummings said something to the same effect; but I can’t find the ee cummings quote and I don’t want to be misquoting folks, so I’ll go with Pablo. He’s great too. Both are men that broke the rules of their trade.
I have thought a lot about this quote in the last 18 months since we started a school. Renegades and Mavericks. These are two different classes of people. One changes the world the other wants to buck the world. In my mind, a Maverick learns the ‘rules’ of their craft whether it be painting, business, or parenting. Then they DELIBERATELY choose to do something different because they see inconsistencies or inanities or opportunities to break bad cycles within the confines of the rules. Often they are inspired to break the mold after they have lived it. Or maybe they see another, different way to beauty. Their decision to wing-out there may look crazy to others, but it’s believable because the person choosing to wing-out has credibility. There is something VERY powerful about a person who has submitted to the rigors of a system who then says, “No thank you and here’s what I’m going to do about it”. Think American Patriots, Joseph Smith, Lehi, Jesus Christ.
Some Mavericks learn the system then use the system against itself. Instead of improving the world, they very cleverly destroy it. These are the most dangerous of people because they paid the price to learn the ‘rules’ and they know how to manipulate them to look credible while espousing evil. They have great learning. They are often educated in the best schools or the highest systems. But the true lessons of learning didn’t change them into better people; just more clever devils. Think Hitler, Satan, Mao.
A Renegade is one who never learns to abide by the rules. They often feel that they are above the rules. Whatever their craft: academia, politics, social connection, they are too ‘great’ to submit to the ‘rules’ of the trade. Renegades take off on their own path with very little knowledge or wisdom. They shove off, not in courage, but in ignorance. So now we have a person who wants to change the world but hasn’t taken the time to learn self-discipline, virtue, or proper character. They haven’t paid the price to be believable. Perhaps they have learned these things superficially so that they can ‘play the game’ in facade for a while. But Renegades are routed out for their impulsiveness and idiocy. Over time, they are never credible-perhaps memorable, but never credible.
Do you want to change the world? Do you want to have lasting impact for good? Learn the rules, LIVE the rules, THEN if necessary, break the rules. Mavericks are needed. Mavericks are powerful. Mavericks are essential to change. Just remember the rule of thumb: ‘Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom…’ then with that wisdom act. (Proverbs 4:7)