I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t be jealous, envious, or that you should ignore how much better another person might be.
Go ahead, dare yourself. Compare yourself. It might be the best thing you ever do for your art.
The truth is, your envies, your jealousies, and your white-hot burning desire to be better than the other person are powerful motivators and they’ll keep you hungry to improve long after the mirror stops telling you-you’re the fairest of them all.
The mirror is a liar. You’re not the fairest of them all. It’s not okay to rest on your laurels, and you’re damn right there are others a hell of a lot better than you.
What would motivate you if you were perfect? What would create a burning desire within you to improve if you were already the best?
What would create the raging need to exceed deep down inside of you, if the other person wasn’t somehow always one step ahead of you, when you know you’re already doing your best?
Yes, it is!
Yes… It… Is.
There is a plan to the madness.
Everyone needs a rival.
Leonardo da Vinci needed Michelangelo.
Pablo Picasso needed Henri Matisse.
Phil Mickelson needed Tiger Woods.
Had Tiger not come around, I don’t feel I would have pushed myself to achieve what I ended up achieving, because he forced everybody to get the best out of themselves.
Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Picasso, Matisse, all could make similar statements about their rivals (although, maybe not always as kindly).
If we don’t run the hardest and fastest, then we don’t deserve to win the race. End. Of. Story.
You need to know you’re not the best. You’re not perfect. Not even close.
Not everyone in the room deserves a trophy. (Dare to Tweet)
And, frankly, if we haven’t achieved and surpassed our goals, neither do we.
If you want a medal, a label that says you’re a badass, then you need to work your butt off more than anyone else and put in the hours, the days, the months, and the years to get there. Because that other person is (you know who I am talking about), and they’re not going to wait for you to catch up.
The prize handouts are over. Not everyone gets first place. And they shouldn’t. Unless they’re actually in first place!
Don’t misunderstand me, the pain of failure and the agony of defeat is real. But you need to feel it, embrace it, and know it is a human necessity.
When I was a kid I was on a #1 bowling team and I sucked at bowling, but I was the handicap, which helped the team overall. I was too young to understand and I believed I was great because I kept getting trophies saying I was. I wasn’t, and when I finally realized the truth I was crushed and I’ve never gone bowling since.
Pacification is the devil―it won’t help anyone improve.
Pacification leads to stagnation, stagnation leads to disillusionment, and disillusionment leads to the abyss.
It’s time to realize you don’t want to be perfect, you don’t want to be the best (not yet), and you don’t want to be so good that you have nothing to strive for.
You need your ambition on fire within you with such a white-hot-want-to-win attitude that you’re always striving to create better work.
If you want a trophy without the tears, the sweat and the pain, go to the trophy store and buy it. But don’t think it means anything. It doesn’t. If you’re in a group of ten competitors and you all get first place prizes you should consider that a total and complete failure.
Find a group that drives you to win.
When you’re in your room in tears that your work was rejected or got terrible reviews and you hit the walls in frustration and anger, that’s when the magic happens, that’s when your work starts to click, and you either give up or you start seeing what’s next, what you need to work on, and what really matters to you.
Being on the brink of giving up is the threshold of success, either you step over it or you quit. The middle ground is unstable and unreliable, but all of us must travel it.
That’s the way it is. Anything else is just a lie.
Get upset when you lose and strive with all you’ve got to do better next time. Don’t ever rest on your laurels. Stay hungry, and keep working. Hard.
Here’s a little secret, you don’t need to be perfect to win – you just need to want to win with all of your heart, strive to win so no one can take it away from you, and stay hungry enough to not let your fears, doubts, and jealousies stop you, but instead drive you to be awesome!
Some people will say this is too extreme. Let’s be honest, it is. Trying to moderate it doesn’t help anyone. We’ve tried. We’ve settled. Now it’s time to kick butt again!
The most talented are not always the ones who achieve greatness.
Art isn’t competitive? Oh, it is. More than starving artists everywhere ever understood.
Starving artists aren’t starving because they’re untalented. Actually, they’re usually very talented, but they never felt the need to strive to improve. Now they’re starving for scraps. They’re the ones who were always told they were winners, even if they weren’t in first place.
You’re different. You want to be in first place and you want it to be real.
But, here’s the caveat, the contradiction if you will, it’s not about first place. It’s about something else.
Once you realize what that something else is, everything will come together, and there’s only one way to find out what it is.
Don’t just create your best work, create THE best work!
You can do it. Now go, kick some butt!