Respect Your Art Heroes

During our Optimize Artists session another artist shared some amazing wisdom about having respect for your art heroes and not comparing yourself to them.

Today, technology is ubiquitous and for the most part it’s wonderful.

But when we are scrolling through Instagram and comparing ourselves to others it can be debilitating.

Dawn told me about a moment where she was complaining that she wasn’t at the same level of an artist she loved.

Her friend quickly told her that she lacked respect for all the time and effort that this artist put into their craft and it was egotistical to think that she could achieve the same without similar time and effort.

Have you ever compared, or are comparing, yourself to other artists?

Have you ever wonder why you’re not as good as them?


I’ve done it, we all have.

This is part of being human.

No shame here, it’s perfectly normal, just recognize when you’re doing it and remember that you have your own path in life and they are on theirs.

Then get to work!

Rumi Says:

“On the way there is no harder pass than this: fortunate is he who does not carry envy as a companion.”

“Indeed envy is a defect; worse than any other.”

And John C. Maxwell says:

“Comparing yourself to others is really just a needless distraction. The only one you should compare yourself to is you. Your mission is to become better today than you were yesterday.”

We all understand that envy is no the greatest.

But, many of us still say “I should be as good as this person” and I feel this is even more detrimental.

Thinking that we SHOULD be as good as someone else indicates that we are ignorant to the time and effort that this person has dedicated to their craft.

I love Rembrandt, Wyeth, Van Gogh and many other art heroes of mine but I’ve stopped thinking that I should be as good as them.

Because I’ve done the research on these artists and I know how much time, effort, blood, sweat and tears they’ve put into their craft.

I also know how much time and effort I’ve put in on my craft.

Once I’ve reached a point when the two match, maybe then I can complain… or look for what’s not working and save time by not complaining at all.

I think a lot of our incorrect comparison with other creators stems from our preoccupation with Talent.

Talent is great but it can only get us so far.

We have to put in the effort to ever reach the ranks of our heroes and eventually surpass them.

Anders Ericson and his ground breaking research has proven that talent is overrated.

See his book Peak on more about that.

Or Geoff Colvin’s book called Talent is Overrated!

I love what Robert Greene says in his book Mastery:

“In our culture, we tend to denigrate practice. We want to imagine that great feats occur naturally—that they are the sign of someone’s genius or superior talent. Getting to a high level of achievement through practice seems so banal, so uninspiring. Besides, we don’t want to have to think of the 10,000 to 20,000 hours that go into such mastery. These values of ours are oddly counterproductive—they cloak from us the fact that almost everyone can reach such heights through tenacious effort, something that should encourage us all. It is time to reverse this prejudice against conscious effort and to see the powers we gain through practice and discipline as eminently inspiring and even miraculous.”

Stop comparing, stop wishing, celebrate and respect your art heroes then, get to work because you have what it takes.

Chris Beaven

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