As promised in yesterday’s post, I now offer my take on exactly what we learn from Stephan Pastis’ comic strip, Pearls Before Swine.

The two key observations I made yesterday were, 1) Pastis chose to integrate himself into the strip playing himself as a comics character, and 2) Pastis had his characters invent the new sport of “panel walking.”

As I observed yesterday, Pastis took thinking outside the box to a whole new level, in more ways than one!  I give him very high scores for creativity and innovation.

Here are the things we learn from all this:

1—Just because no one else ever did it before, doesn’t mean you can’t.

I’m sure Pastis knew other cartoonists had not yet integrated themselves directly into their own comic strips as actual comics characters and I’m sure he knew “panel walking” did not yet exist.  But he didn’t let that stop him.  He didn’t say, “No one has ever drawn ‘panel walking’ characters before, so I’d better not either.”  He did not allow himself to be boxed in (pun intended?) by his peers.  Indeed, he chose to rise above his peers.

2—Breaking with convention isn’t automatically bad.

Although I don’t know Pastis personally, what little exposure I have had to him suggests to me he is a fine professional and a gentleman.  I am certain he would tend to follow all the conventional rules in most conventional circumstances and contexts.  Nevertheless, Pastis obviously chose to break with convention in the execution of his craft when he genuinely believed he had something of value to offer his readers.  Although we should always be willing to give due respect to context and convention, we should never view breaking with convention as inherently bad.  The decision to break with convention just might be the start of something new and marvelous for everyone.

3—Never limit yourself!

Pastis did not limit himself.  His original professional position was that of an attorney.  But he did not stop there.  He continued to feed his passion for cartooning, and eventually achieved the level of success he now enjoys.  If Pastis can do it, you can too.  I am so saddened when I meet people who choose to impose limitations on themselves as to what they can or cannot do.  Tragically, I see this all too often.  Please don’t do that.  Remember—You will never become all you were intended to become until you try.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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