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How Henri Matisse Can Create Your Success

History has created many pearls of wisdom for us to string together. As a speaker and author, I am always searching for stories that enlighten us about our journey to success and prosperity. One such story I recently stumbled upon involves the famed painter, Henri Matisse.
As most know, Matisse is one of the great French impressionists who put paint on canvass and impressed the world. Walk into any museum in the world, and you will most likely find a Matisse hanging on the wall for its patrons to gaze. I personally enjoy his unique colors and configuring of the human body, and how you know instantly that it was by the hand of Matisse.
Lessor known is the second act of Henri Matisse when he placed scissors to paper. After suffering from very poor health that left him bedridden, Matisse was forced to give up painting any more masterpieces in his later years of life. Immensely famous in his lifetime, he could have rested on his laurels and sat in his villa in the South of France and enjoyed a quite retirement. But Matisse did no such thing.
Instead, Henri Matisse molded his immense art talent into another form. He began to do cut-outs. Yes, just like the children at school who cut out paper silhouettes and plaster them on their wall in their fourth grade class. But of course, this was Matisse and his cut-outs were like a majestic sculpture done by a master. His cut-outs are so admired that the Museum of Modern Art in New York is currently hosting an exhibit of his hand to paper.
This story of Henry Matisse teaches us many important lessons about success in the business world and beyond. Here are a few pearls from his life story:
1) Tragedy exposes talents that we may not know ever existed. Henri Matisse would have never gravitated toward a new art form if it were not for a tragic illness. Think of your adversities and severe hardships not as obstacles but as a spring board to propel you into a new wonderful direction.
2) Your talent will find you. Henri Matisse could not rest on his laurels because he had the need to continue his art. Your talents will find you—if you listen!
3) Don’t be afraid to change. It is very easy to get locked into your comfort box. Painting was the medium for Matisse, but he knew he had to change to allow his passion to stay free. Change is not fear-inducing to high achievers. Rather, successful people see change as exhilarating. It all depends on your mind-set.

Henri Matisse once said that you should never be a prisoner of yourself, a prisoner of your style, or a prisoner of success. Allow history to show you how to free yourself.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a professor of human performance at Austin Peay State University. He is author of the Washington Post bestselling business book “Full Throttle” and is a motivational and inspirational business speaker who speaks to businesses about improving attitude and performance. E-mail him at and learn more at

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About Gregg Steinberg

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a performance psychology expert, best selling author, and inspirational keynote speaker on the various topics relating to individual and team performance. Google+ Profile Get in touch with Dr. Gregg

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