If you want to serve food to people, there are two ways to go.

You could open a McDonald’s. You don’t need much culinary skill or training. You just pop the patties on the grill or the fries in the fryer, and wait for the timer. Just follow their system, repeat the steps, and voila. You’ll be serving fast, reasonable burgers at a cheap price, with plenty of customers, pretty soon. You won’t win any culinary awards. Nobody’s going to say you have the best food in the world. But you can be pretty confident you’ll have customers, you’ll meet their expectations, and you’ll have a good business.

Or you could be a chef. Invest in learning the art of cooking. Create food that expresses yourself on a plate. Food that evokes emotions, speaks to people, and represents you. It might not work. Some people might hate it. It will take more time to learn. But some people might love it, and love you. And it’s the only way you can create food that really touches people and changes their lives and that people travel the world to try.

Both paths can lead to success. But only one can lead to art.

True art, art that touches people and changes their lives, can’t be made by following paint-by-numbers systems or templates, even if those systems are created by experts. It requires your personality and your heart. You need to have passion, and belief in yourself, and do things your way. It’s scarier, and riskier. But that’s the only way to truly touch people.

If you just want to make decent money, and create stuff that people will consume and pay for and be okay with, then by all means. Find a proven step by step system and follow it.

But if you want to change lives, inspire change, and create work that speaks to people and that you’re proud of, then you have to be you. Learn from experts and proven systems, sure. But don’t be afraid to break the rules, step out, and put your personality into your work.