Have you outsourced your heart?

When I was in my teens I organised a portrait exhibition.
I asked some teachers for photos of themselves and painted them. I added some famous people that I had painted previously. Now I had a nice collection of portraits.

Then I went to the director and asked for permission to organise an exposition in the school building. With a vernissage, somebody giving a speach, drinks for the guests and so on.

Of course he said yes. Teachers are eagerly waiting for proactive 17 year olds to organize something, anything (as long as it does not promote drugs, sex or rock and roll).

It was great. Some people bought drawings, some people didn’t.

One person hesitated.

„I appreciate your paintings“, he said. „But I am not sure, if it is great artwork. I need to know before I can make a decision.“
I wanted to say: „Of course it is great art work, what the hell are you talking about?“ But I was quiet and simply asked how he planned to find out.
He explained his strategy.

„I will ask a friend“, he said. „He is an expert. He knows about art. He knows artists. He knows about art history. He has a lot of experience in the art world. He knows it all. I rely on his opinion, and if he says „yes, you are a great artist“, then I will buy it. If he says no, I won’t.“

I said ok and left.

I could not put the finger on it, but I was feeling that something was oddly out of place. Something did not fit. Something was not right with his answer.

To me, the process is very simple. First, you look at a picture. Then you like it or you don’t. Finally, you buy it or you don’t. End of the story.

But this man preferred to hang a drawing onto his wall, because it was accepted by an expert, rather than because it was according to his own taste.

What striked me as odd was the fact that this important man could not trust his own eyes.

The interesting thing is that this person was used to delegate responsability. He was used to manage people. It was part of his job to delegate decicions.

If you can’t do something, because it takes too much time or effort to master it yourself, you better delegate it to an expert.

In recent years a whole industry developed out of this idea. Outsourcing is not a bad idea.

But there is a limit to outsourcing.

You must not  delegate your own view. You must not delegate your own reaction. You must not delegate your heart.

Unless you lack all of them.

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