Sunday, 4 December 2011

An Artists' Math Lesson

Many people have separated their lives into two broad sections - Building wealth (sometimes known as money making) and the rest of their lives. Having been included in this group of people, I found myself reflecting on them and likening them to subject that I teach my students. I previously have perceived these to be two totally different, if not opposite, subjects.

My view was that building wealth was math, while life -- well life is art.

We all had to take math during our school years as well as art. So we are all familiar with what is involved in each subject.

A math test is marked on fact. There is only every one right answer. The answers are always either right or wrong - it is formulaic. You learn and apply the right formula or process and you get the right answer. You know the result before it happens, every single time.

One plus one always equals two.
Four times twenty-five is always one hundred.
Twenty take away two is always eighteen.
Fifty divided by five is always ten.

In math there can only be one answer. But let's compare this to an art project. A number of different projects can get the same mark. Art or beauty it has been said it in the eye of the beholder. In art there is no one right way to do it.

When we study the great artists throughout history - da Vinci, Picasso, Pollock, Warhol - we see an amazing difference in their styles, yet they are all considered masters of their craft. And different people prefer different styles and what you may think of as disgusting, someone else will adore. And that is what makes art, art.

So what any of this got to do with money making and life?

Making money is just part of math: If you put $10 into your savings every week, after a year you will have $520. When you buy a house for $500,000 and it increases in value by two percent a year, you can work out how much it will be worth in ten years time. That is what makes maths so awesome, it allows us to know. You learn the process and let the math of making money go to work, and you can work out the results before you start investing.

But life? Life is like art. Its beauty is that it is different for everyone and is changeable. Different people add their own colours to our lives. When you make a mistake, it is possible to try again, to erase it or just paint straight over it. You can make it however you want. You can change it to suit, it is ever evolving and what is top class to one holds no interest to someone else. And this is what makes art and life beautiful.

While we can use our knowledge of math to enhance our skill in art, such as shapes, symmetry and perspective. So our skills in money making can enhance our life. But life isn't made up of just building wealth, it is not only about accumulating possessions. This is not to say that wealth building is not a worthwhile skill, its just that wealth isn't what life is all about.

So ask yourself, are you focusing on your math or your art? I advise that you do your very best at math and wealth building in order to be able to look after yourself and your families. But make your life a masterpiece. What do you want your life to look like? What kind of picture are you creating? What kind of statue are sculpting? Make sure that you use all the brilliant colours of the rainbow, going all the way to the edges and create the most amazing life that you can.

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