My son, who is 19, is an artist. He’s done well this year, ramping up his social media presence (in a good way) and selling his artwork. The orders for commissions keep rolling in and he is able to answer the call and somehow keep up. To use one word, he’s prolific. He seems to have a natural affinity for what he’s chosen to do with his talents. And, on the surface, it might seem that he’s just an extremely lucky young man to have success at such a young age.
In reality, this could not be further from the truth. He’s worked for his success. And, I’m glad that he’s not afraid to remind the people that follow him of that. By his own accounting, he’s been building his art skills for over ten years. That places him in about third grade when it all started. His desire to be an artist started even before that. And, also by his own admission, he was not very good when he started.
So, what happened?
Hard work, persistence, a work ethic modeled by his father, myself, and his older brothers. We’re all self taught. My husband makes wooden furniture, I make jewelry and write poetry, his oldest brother is an adept pianist, and his brother closest in age (five years) is amazing with a CNC machine. For none of us, these skills are not the basis of our chosen professions. While we, as parents, supported the interests our boys had, as well as our own, most of the ability (and success) came from a persistence to learn and an ability to persevere when a snag is encountered.
Those snags varied for all of us, just as they do in life for everyone. Snags included loss of inspiration, lack of time, lack of funds, lack of motivation, loss of confidence, and lack of support, among other things. But, still, the drive to learn something outside of school (they were all above average students) and become excellent at a craft could not be squashed.
This is what has led to success, not only for our youngest son but for all of us. Hard work, determination, and persistence. Today, in popular educational verbiage, this is often referred to as grit.
Within these observations of the roads to success, I think there are bigger lessons that apply to our world today. Here are some of them: 1) Do not rely on others for your success. It is up to you. 2) Surround yourself with supportive people. If they are not readily apparent, find them. For example, members of my family – my parents and my sister, do not read my blog. While this is disappointing, and I have failed to understand their lack of support, I kept at it – for nearly four years now – writing nearly every day! I’ve found others to support me (emotionally) in what I do. 3) Realize that some days, weeks, or even months will be like a roller coaster. If you love what you do, keep at it. Most likely, you will not feel successful each and every day. The road to excellence is a continuous and twisty path. Stay on it. 4) Continue to work hard. Commit time to the areas you want to succeed in – even if it’s years and tens of thousands of hours! 5) Continue to learn – throughout your life. My husband and I are good examples of this adage. We’re both always learning something new. And, even our oldest son is learning a “new” hobby – that of water painting. He wanted a hobby that was more tangible than music. It is never too late to learn. 6) “Don’t let the turkeys get you down, fly with the eagles, instead.” This is a saying I repeated often when my boys were headed out the door to school. I wanted them to stay above the fray, stay true to themselves and their abilities, and not succumb to negative influences. Above all, I am grateful they all seemed to be able to fly and not worry about what others thought. (And, that is a hard thing in high school.)
Our world is a mess right now. We’ve moved from trying to cope with a global pandemic to a sobering degree of social unrest with many broken systems that used to form the structure of life as we’ve known it. Recently, there have been many snags that will need to be overcome. Change is coming; it has to. But, it will take time and hard work. We all have to be persistent in knowing and believing that this too shall pass.
Today is Slice of Life Tuesday. I joined this group in February of 2017 and have written daily since. The Slice of Life Challenge is coming up in March. If you’d like to join this supportive group of writers for the challenge, please read about it here. If you want to sign up for this year, you can do visit TwoWritingTeachers.org. Being part of this group has been a wonderful experience for me!