How to break your limits and achieve greatness
In his installation pieces, artist Michael Murphy translates renderings of flat, 2D images into three-dimensional spaces.
The viewer who sees the image of an eye, for example, would totally disagree with the person viewing the same piece of art from any other perspective.
In fact, leave the single spot where Murphy’s eye is visible, and the image suddenly explodes into a galaxy of floating wooden balls. Depending on which perspective you see it from or which position in the room you’re standing in, you could have an infinite number of ways to describe what one viewer so clearly saw as an eye.
This is what we do every day with the world around us. Think of how many descriptions we use to try and define people — height, weight, hair colour, DNA coding — but we could never possibly identify every single dimension of their being. There could always be another way to describe them. The closest we could ever come would always be at least one dimension less.
This demonstrates the limit of our perspectives but also offers unlimited possibilities for us to continue our exploration and imagination. In the same way, we could never imagine every possible approach to problem-solving, goal-setting and our own self-betterment. Everything in life is limitless — perspectives, solutions and room for improvement — but we define the quality of our lives by how much we push those limits.
There are no limits in life. You can only limit yourself. When I attempt to solve a problem, I approach it with three principles in mind.
The first is an understanding of the incompleteness of all perspectives.
The second principle allows each perspective to have any opportunity to be heard and reviewed. Each perspective is equally valid depending on the situation in which it was generated, meaning we can respect all opinions without bias. That is, however, until we confront a problem that needs to be solved, which presents the third principle — a break in that symmetry of perspectives.
This is related to the converging nature of problem-solving. When facing the problem of naming his work, for example, Murphy could have brainstormed limitless solutions, but his goal was to narrow the viewer’s focus onto the same concern as his: government tracking and its watchful reach into people’s personal lives. Naming his work ‘Perceptual Shift’ brings them closer to seeing his perspective — that many may not see the watchful eye unless they shift their perspective.
Just like the infinite number of perspectives to view his art, there were an infinite number of solutions he could have devised to name his art. But he had to narrow down his own divergent perspectives to the best possible one at that time.
In the same way that solutions to problems are limitless, there is a limitless amount of data available to help us improve. It would be impossible to brainstorm an exhaustive list of all the room for improvement because there can always be one more idea. The two-dimensional ways we can approach our three-dimensional world are endless to the nth degree: There is always an N+1 to be found.
Of course, we all know there are physical limits to what the human body can do. Those who break those physical limits set world records until someone else comes along to push them even further.
In the same way, failure is a vital part of achieving success when we use those experiences to better ourselves and fine-tune our skills. Stay open to the limitlessness of improvement.
Mr Gikunda teaches English and Literature in Gatundu North Sub County