Back to Blog

Artist’s Palette

Scott's Column

By Rick Cooper - Death ValleyUploaded by PDTillman, CC BY 2.0,

Each of us is on this earth for a very short time. Barely a blip on the radar screen of history.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference.

I was riding my bicycle through Death Valley earlier this year and came across a place called the Artist’s Palette.

It is a beautiful patchwork of colors created by mineral deposits in the hillside. Many years ago that hillside and all of Death Valley were under hundreds of feet of water. Things change.

Less than 160 years ago slavery existed in this country. When I was a boy visiting relatives in North Carolina, I encountered segregated water fountains.

Just over 100 years ago women didn’t have the Constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. When I was a boy, a law was finally passed guarantying women equal pay for equal work.

When I started my career, the Internet did not exist, no one had computers, and even self-correcting typewriters were a novelty. The fax machine was the hot new efficiency booster.

In the financial services world, commissions on stocks were still fixed, most mutual funds had a front-end load, index funds and ETFs did not exist, and the term ESG hadn’t been invented.

Yes, things change. And the change is constant.

The world you see today is not the world you will see in 5 years. Who you are today is not who you will be in 5 years. What kind of world do you want the 5-year-from-now-you to live in?

Be intentional. Make a plan. Don’t be afraid to take a different path. Work your ass off.

Keep in mind that change is not the result of an unbroken series of successes. It is the result of a long string of failures interspersed with a few important breakthroughs.

Don’t fear failure. The road to progress is paved with it. We are not defined by our failures, but we are shaped by them. Use them to create building blocks for the future you want.

Visiting Artist’s Palette was both liberating and inspiring.

It reminded me that clinging to a past that evaporates with the light of each new day is futile.

Yet each new day brings the possibility to change your little corner of the world.

What colors will you paint with to create your future?