“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo
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Many of us have this funny expectation of people we consider experts or people we consider successful. We believe their talent is inherent. We believe they were born with a special gift. We believe we will never reach their status no matter how hard we try.
This way of thinking can be dangerous to our aspirations as artists. It ignores all the hard work people put into achieving mastery. It assumes that we can never achieve mastery no matter how hard we work. It assumes that we are born with or without talent. It assumes that talent can’t be developed over time.
While these ideas may have a sliver of truth to them, they are usually unhelpful. They force us to settle for good enough or they force us to quit.
I can assure you of one thing: no one was born a master at their craft. Everyone started as a beginner. Every master had to work hard to become the best.
If you want to be the best, you have to work hard. There is no shortcut to becoming great at something. It takes, time, dedication, and yes, some talent, to achieve mastery.
So before you start envying the masters, know what it takes to get there. Know that it requires sacrifice. Know that it takes time. Know that it will be a difficult road. Know that to become the next Michelangelo, you have to be willing to put in the work.
Photo by Luis Brizzante
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“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”
– Derek Jeter
Print available on Society6.
Greatness can be found in every walk of life, from the artist to the athlete. In each case, there are those that stand out and those that don’t. What is it that separates the two?
Derek Jeter is considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He is what sports fans like to call a first ballot Hall of Famer. In sports, the Hall of Fame recognizes the best players to ever play the game. First ballot Hall of Famers are voted in on the first eligible ballot.
Jeter ended his career in the top ten of three statistical categories. He was sixth in hits with 3,465. He was seventh in at-bats with 11,195. And he was ninth in runs with 1,923.
What do these stats prove? They prove that Jeter had staying power. Some athletes can make it in sports based off of their natural talents alone, but those who do quickly fade away. Others, like Derek Jeter, become masters of their craft. They hone their skills to perfection.
A New York Times article estimated that Jeter swung a bat 342,000 times in his professional career. His deliberate and methodical practice can seen in his signature stance and swing. Each at bat is preceded by a very distinct routine.
Derek Jeter did not achieve greatness through luck or pure athleticism. Like every great athlete to play a sport, he spent countless hours practicing and becoming better.
Even if you don’t know anything about baseball, you can still appreciate what Derek Jeter has done. He was meticulous at his craft and worked hard to be the best. Don’t be discouraged by those who have more talent than you. Use it as motivation to become better. If you work harder than everyone else you are sure to find success.
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Photo of Yankee Stadium by m01229
“I have no special talents, I am just passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
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We are taught that talent is everything. Only virtuosos will be able to fill a concert hall. Prodigies are held up to an impossible standard by the rest of society. What if that didn’t have to be the case?
Luckily for all of us, talent only plays a small roll in our ability to be successful. Have you ever wondered what happened to those child prodigies when they grew up? Some grow up and live up to those lofty expectations. Others go on to lead a life like most people. What differentiates those who succeed and those who don’t?
If you are a child who is amazing at playing the piano, but have not desire to do so, will you continue to play? Probably not. You must possess some combination of talent, grit, passion and curiosity to succeed.
As artists, you must be a student of the world. Find out what makes you tick, and pursue that without abandon. Reach back into that childlike curiosity and learn from the world. Question things. Experiment. Don’t give up.
Talent without passion and curiosity is meaningless. Stop worrying about how much talent you have, and let your passion and curiosity guide you.
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Photo by ApertureVintage