The creative world is a very competitive place. Everyone striving to be the best at what they do. Trying to be just a little better than the next person. Looking for every edge, searching for every advantage, preying on every weakness. (Dun Dun Dun) The creative business can be a tough world to live in sometimes. You make think you are the best left handed Latin cowbell player in the world but the truth is there is always someone out there better than you. Just accept it. In fact, if there wasn’t someone out there who was just a little better than you – what would you have to strive for?!
Artistic Growth and Satisfaction.
I understand that ‘be the best second best you can be‘ is not exactly a motto you would have printed on one of those nifty inspirational signs suits have framed in their office. Obviously you desire to be among the best at your craft. However, if you think you are the best you might become complacent – you could loose drive. You need to embrace that drive and use it to your advantage. It is the proverbial carrot on a stick (I guess in this metaphor that makes us all donkeys, yikes). When you finally reach that carrot, you will see a deliciously tempting carrot cake off in the distance. Once you have finished scarfing down the carrot cake there will a 14 carat diamond ring to chase after, and so on and so on. (see what I did with the carrot/carat thing?, clever!) The point is that the chase to be as good as [insert hero here] simulates our artistic growth and helps us reach those wonderful moments of creative satisfaction we feel in gaining new levels of success.
Creative work – It’s all subjective anyway.
Truth is that when we are dealing with creative pursuits it is all subjective anyway. Example. Django Reinhardt, the penultimate jazz guitarist, wanted to make sounds like the guitarist and innovator Les Paul. Les Paul wished he could play like Django. Who could really say which of the two was better? [Django] They are both great for entirely different reasons! [Still going with Django] I am betting that the drive to achieve what they saw in each other’s abilities was influential in making them both incredible musicians!
Even when your skill level in your particular creative pursuit is clearly recognized by others, each work you create is still judged on its individual merit. For example, think of your favorite actor. I bet there is at least one film that you thought they were not that great in, and just ask a Rush fan how they feel about ‘Roll the Bones”. I dare you. And really, how can we be the best at anything when the whole system of judging creative work is based on individual opinion. The answer is we can’t. So…
Be the best ‘second best’ you can be!
Artistic growth is spurred by our desire to be better at our craft. To be as good as the other guy. To do bigger and better things. It feeds on our desire to be the best at what we do. Utilize this! Realizing we are not the best means that we always keep that joy of learning new things. It means we get to achieve those satisfying moments of personal growth! It means we get to discover new joys in the things we hear, see, draw, act or write! It means our creative life stays alive and exciting. Whether you are chasing the talent of an artist in your local market or trying to be the next Mozart, set your sights on that carrot and start chasing.
Who’s your artistic idol? Please comment below!
(Django photo in public domain/ Other photo courtesy of scottchan / freedigitalphotos.net)