While the book focuses on artists, its wisdom could apply to all walks of life — especially when it comes to how to set goals and achieve them.
One of the 10 ways Kleon asks the reader to view their own art is as a gift. Very specifically, a gift to a single person.
Kleon writes: “You never know when a gift made for a single person will turn into a gift for the whole world.”
Gifts That Grow
Kleon gives the example of bestselling books which began as bedtime stories for specific children, such as A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh.” He also quotes Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, who said: “What I’m really concerned about is reaching one person.”
It’s this idea — affecting one person for the better — that drives the work of two amazing people you’ll hear on our next podcast.
The episode features Mick Ebeling, the Founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs, and his chief technology officer, Daniel Belquer.
Laughing at “Impossible”
As you might guess from the name, Not Impossible sets out to solve seemingly unchangeable problems. They make the impossible possible through groundbreaking technological solutions. For example, in just a few short years they’ve developed…
- an “Eyewriter” that allowed an artist paralyzed by ALS to create art again
- vibration technology that allows the deaf to ‘hear’ music
- a way to provide affordable prosthetics to those who’ve lost an arm in the Sudanese civil war
…and the list goes on. Ebeling, Belquer and their team are high-energy people who thrive on the craziest of crazy good turns.
The Power of Starting with One
Not Impossible tackles enormous problems, but not with broad goals of addressing poverty or illness or hunger worldwide. Instead, they set out to fix ONE PERSON’s issue.
As Mick explains it, if you view the problem in its entirety, it is easy to get discouraged. But if you set out to help a single person, now it’s an issue you can relate to. You won’t want to give up. You don’t want to abandon the individual. And by helping one, you can help many.
This idea has come up in other Crazy Good Turn episodes. The more that people who do crazy good things for others share their stories, the clearer the power of “doing for one what you wish to do for all” becomes.
Austin Kleon ends his discussion of this topic by saying that giving gifts to individuals is a habit all artists should have. “Making gifts puts us in touch with our gifts,” he writes.
True for all of us.
P.S. – The episode featuring Not Impossible comes out this Sunday, June 2. If you want to hear Mick and Daniel’s story, sign up here to get the podcast as soon as it’s live.