Lessons from Legacy: Life by Design Part 1

Copyright 2006 Melissa Galt

Creating a Unique and Original Life

In order to lead an original and unique life, we do have to think outside of the box and create our own rules and guidelines for accomplishment. The best among us always have done so. It is our privilege to observe and learn from the lessons these pioneers can teach us.

My great grandfather, the renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, left just such a legacy. He never played by the rules, but instead established his own path and despite the many naysayers created architecture well ahead of its time. His designs still serve as an inspiration today. Many said he couldn’t do what he in fact did. They said it wouldn’t work, wouldn’t stand the test of time, and would collapse. While many of his projects do undergo extensive renovation, the innovative concepts presented in such properties as Fallingwater and the S.C. Johnson Wax buildings are timeless and blazed a trail of originality.

Great grandfather was at the same time perpetually broke, often accepting bail outs from clients and indulging in his passion for collecting art rather than paying his debtors. His fondest saying is “Give me the luxuries of life and I will gladly do without the necessities.” Of course, he didn’t do without necessities, but what he found essential was far beyond what most people consider necessary. He lived a life apart and beyond his peers and even those closest to him. He lived a life of his own design.

What trail would you blaze if you made your own rules? What necessities would you give up to have the luxuries you most desire?

Making the Best Choices

We are each the sum total of the choices we have made to date. If we want a new reality, we have to make new choices. After all, the very definition of insanity is to do the same thing always and expect a different result. When we change our actions, we change our results. A perfect case in point is my Godmother, famed Hollywood costumer Edith Head. At age thirty she was teaching French to an all girls school in California, and because she had studied a semester abroad in Europe the school assumed she could also teach art. She in fact couldn’t draw more than stick figures but took on the task. While looking in the paper one day, she saw a contest for drawing costumes for one of the major movie studios.

She wanted a change in career and boldly without permission “borrowed” some of her student’s sketches and entered the contest. She won! When showing up on the first day and being asked to draw, she was found out, but her courage and presumption so captivated the costume designer that he took her on. The rest is history including 8 Oscars for costume design over a 50-year career. She lived a life of her own design.

What have you not pursued because you didn’t have the skill set or the connections? Can you learn it? Who can help you?