DETERMINED TO NOT KNOW IT ALL - The more you know, the less you really know.
If you are going to dream – be careful, you could very well be doing it for the rest of your life... and it's easy to dream about something when you don't know much about it. This is pretty much how it's been since 1988. I really didn't know much back then and I basically don't know much now, but I'm at least experienced enough to duck when needed.
The ideas of starting a tee shirt company, opening retail stores, taking off to NYC, London & NoLa, building a city event, starting an artist incubator, designing furniture and saying I will be a famous artist one day are fine and dandy, but the allure of not knowing what I'm doing is even greater. Learning is and was more of a desire than worrying with the fear of failure. I was going to fail all along the way and look like an ass. I was going to be sized up as a waste of time and laughed at in the smart and opposing circles by those who have never really tried themselves. But most importantly, I was going to lick my wounds, stack my 2's (from failing 8 times out of ten), step away from the box and aspire to be a sly wit in a world full of pretenders. It's kind of like one of those sadist tendencies that once you know your limitations, you no longer abide by the rules of those limitations. I learned to thank God that I was not smart – a smart guy would have quit a long time ago because he would have seen the struggle ahead and quit, but the grass ain't greener on the quittin' side!
Don’t' worry, I'm not going to use the word “journey” here because it's cliché, but I will describe the commitment of being too stupid too quit as “looking over your shoulder while driving over the edge.” Hitting the target was never just a fun goal, but the way it was going to be. One thing I do know is something so simple that most have missed along the way. I learned to take the “THEY” out of the equation. Were they going to laugh at me for screwing up? Oh, they are not going to like that! They said it was not possible because...blah blah, blah blah blah. I never figured out who THEY were anyway. Once you put the YOU in the equation instead a certain focus starts to happen because you just gave the finger to fear – now you know something.
I did not know it all when I first made tee shirts. I did not know what would sell, what would suck, what would soar. I chipped away at the stone to shape it into an...uhhhm...well, not really sure what it is, but it's something that apparently has worked. They are not products of cotton, but products of millions of thoughts about life, people, mess-ups, and wonders.
Opening retail stores is nothing but not knowing what you are doing. I/We have learned that “not knowing it all” allowed us to learn from our customers and just as importantly learn from our staff members. Hiring those you feel you can learn from creates an atmosphere of growth and synergy. These newbies know stuff and you should pay attention to them. Ownership of ideas is how they get their wings – otherwise all you have is a “yes-man” and nobody likes those.
Not knowing what would be in NYC, London and NoLa are what created the desire to go there. Unknowns aren't what kill you. I learned just how small and vulnerable I really was and everybody needs a fist full of life sandwich sometimes. The more I opened up to the unknowns in these places, the more I embraced diversity and culture. Open-mindedness as I have learned is the natural progression of respecting the unknown as you think you know them.
Running a city event was a definite unknown as I picked one up out of the trash to revive. I got my masters degree in attitudes with this unknown, but I learned how to cope with humans and some not so human-acting specimens. This is where I collected the most “Chane doesn't know what he is doing-isms." Intricate personalities (putting it nicely) are a tough bi-product of being determined to swim in unknown waters with sharks. Either way it got sliced, thousands of smiling faces in growing numbers each month seem to appreciate the unknowns each time from a village idiot who was willing to try to build community.
Starting an art incubator (The Wonder Lab) was a blind leap of helping others who didn't know stuff either. The unknowns faced here are: will it work?, will artists pay rent?, will they pay on time or at all? Sometimes you take these unknowns and rework them to into new ideas that would have never materialized had you not leaped into the headache of unknowns.
Designing furniture is full of unknowns – I guess, I don't know. It sounded exciting so I jumped and found a niche market of placing in between several experienced local builders who really know what they are doing and the D.I.Y. guy who might be a bit timid to take on a project. Thus Dwello Furnitura was (re)born doing just that – not knowing – learning – and then doing. The result was that a 'certain forlorn quality' became the trademark idea.
I've always had an affection for 'friends without homes'. Some people refer to them as “homeless”, but that doesn't work for me. Not knowing many of these great people would have made me a lesser person. They know a lot and have seen a lot and want to tell you a lot. Me, not knowing a lot already, makes a better equation for learning here. What I do know is that I am no better than them or anyone else. I could just as well be faced with the same situation as a twist of fate. Our company has invested a few thousand dollars into assistance to several of the great people I have met along the way. You don't just go give a “homeless” person a hamburger or a dollar and think you have changed the world – these are called do-gooders and do-gooders are posers who brag and want a trophy for it. I would rather hang out with a person on the streets who needs me than hang out with a well-off person who is managing their social image.
Social media, specifically Facebook, is full of know-it-all's who don't really know much except how to pull out their soapbox. Maybe our desire to know less about what others are doing could give us more time to focus on being better people ourselves and help others.
Simply put, admitting that you don't really know it all is the first step to admitting you are a human. An open-mind to taking it in, taking a leap and sometimes signing up for potential failure is a hard thing to do, but it will make you better somehow someday someway. Just because you don’t know it, doesn’t mean you can't try it. Knowing it all is the best bubble of (in)security that will prevent you from learning from those around you.
“Clear eyes, full hearts – can't lose” (Friday Night Lights)