The Two Most Motivating Words EVER: "YOU CAN'T"

There are two words that, together, have inspired some of the greatest achievements known to man.  These two simple words have paved a path when all seems lost.  They have broken barriers when everyone claimed it was impossible. These two words are "you can't."  

There was a time when experts believed the sound barrier couldn't be broken and yet in 1947, Chuck Yeager broke it.  There was a time when people claimed Mount Everest couldn't be climbed and yet in 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first two men to reach the top.  Since then, this impossible climb has been completed by over 4,000 people.  In 1993 a record was set when 40 people climbed to the top in one day. The impossible is made possible by brave individuals who remain steadfast while others adhere to the more comfortable, and popular lie of, "you can't." 

You don't have to be the worlds greatest rock climber or pilot for these words to be important.  As artists, we deal with lies like this on a daily basis.  To make matters worse, we hear these lies so often, we begin to repeat them internally, convincing ourselves each day that our dreams are impossible because everyone else believes they are.  This way of thinking can destroy anyone, regardless of what level of talent you have.  As a painting and drawing instructor, I've had the pleasure to work with numerous artists around the world.  You'll be surprised to know that you aren't the only one subscribing to this way of thinking - apparently, "I can't" is a universal mantra.  I've seen emerging, mid-career and established artists almost abort their dreams because they caved into that negative internal dialogue. You aren't alone.

It's even more important to note that those of us that who've been beaten down the most, usually possess the means to go the farthest.  I know this is contradictory to the messages we receive these days since we've adopted the habit of giving children trophies for 9th place in sports and various academic contests. Sadly, we're forced to celebrate mediocrity and no longer champion the strongest, most tenacious or talented. But I'm here to inform you that getting swept away by that popular, toxic mentality it dangerous and damning. If you want to pursue your dreams and succeed, it's gonna be messy, there will be a lot of tears, bad days and frustration. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. 

I've been an entrepreneur most of my life and I stare down defeat and the impossible everyday when I enter my studio.  My advice - ignore it all.  Pour your time and energy into your dreams not your problems.  Your time is better spent working on the solution not repeating the problem to yourself.   I don't know anyone that worried their way out of a problem and improved their lives.  In fact, did you know that 85% of what we worry about never happens?  If you don't believe me read it in this Huffington Post Article

In my 25 years as an artist, the most motivating words I've heard is "YOU CAN'T."  I laugh to myself every time I hear these words because I've had the pleasure of proving so many people wrong.  After so many years,  I've turned those words into a motivational chant.  When someone says I can't do something, I know I'm stumbling onto something big. To be clear, I'm not special in any way. In fact, my childhood and surroundings weren't the ideal breeding ground for greatness.  If anything, I saw a lot of examples of how I didn't want to end up. I knew at an early age I didn't want a 9-5 job that offered no advancement or creativity. I didn't want to bust my ass and only make ends meet and most importantly, I didn't want to just survive and be content with a beer at the end of the week with my buddies in some run down bar.  I did everything I could in spite of what I experienced.  If contempt for your surroundings and your current situation is all you have in your life - use it. No one can give you permission to succeed - it's a solo journey.  Build your life from the ground up.  Funnel all your energy into your dreams and envision a future as the artist you want to be.  If you can't do this, all of the degrees and training in the world won't enhance or better your life. Train yourself to live with the mentality that everything is possible. At first, this will seem difficult because we've been trained to believe that we have limitations. Artists especially are conditioned to believe the old, 'starving artist' slogan that's frankly tired and ridiculous. Remove this stigma and re-train your mind. Acknowledge that you have a unique gift that needs time, attention and nurturing. Be mindful not to neglect your dreams and invest in your ideal future - you need to commit to change for things to manifest.

I wish you well in all of your artistic endeavors and I hope you will read and share this post with someone else that needs it.  If you'd like to follow my artist motivational series "The Truth About Being an Artist" follow my youtube channel.  Click the links for more information on my artist career consultations and painting and drawing lessons or my testimonials page.  I work with artists around the world via online.  Make huge strides in your career today by taking action now.  Have a great day!

10 Tips For Transitioning From Your Job To Being a Full Time Artist

10 Tips For Transitioning From Your Job To Being a Full Time Artist

The number one goal for every person I do career counseling with is to leave their job and pursue their art career full-time.  However, the biggest concern is how to do it and most importantly, when.  I tell every artist who's serious about leaving their 9-5 the same thing - have an established business, a well-thought-out plan and don't be capricious or you'll be looking for another day job in a few months time.

Face Your Demons

Face Your Demons

Sometimes it seems that you make some steps forward and then suddenly,  nothing is working. I've seen many artists experience a setback or two and want to throw in the towel and quit. Then, in a fit of anger and depression, they go online and look at successful artists with absolute contempt and wonder how the hell they did it.  Instead of employing some reflection and accepting that all careers have challenges, they choose to feed the jealousy and begin a deadly cycle of self-pity and projection. If they keep this destructive behavior up, in a  short amount of time they have the perfect recipe for depression, anger, and career suicide.

Effort = Luck (+ 4 tips)

Effort = Luck (+ 4 tips)

I'll be bold and say that luck is quite achievable.  It has even been suggested that Thomas Jefferson said: "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." 

5 Mandatory Tips for Emerging Artists

5 Mandatory Tips for Emerging Artists

I've confessed many times here that I really didn't have any support early on in my career and because of that, I always promised myself that when I achieved some level of success I'd never refuse anyone who asked for help.  This brings me to the subject of this blog post; the number one question I get asked the most - what advice would you give to an artist just starting out?  Here's are 5 mandatory tips for emerging artists.

Unraveling the Knots in Your Life (+ 4 Tips)

Unraveling the Knots in Your Life (+ 4 Tips)

Do not waiver, doubt or hesitate. If the house is falling apart and beyond repair just burn it to the ground. I know, I know, it’s not easy to let go but once you learn to take out the trash before it begins to reek, you will start to thrive.

Greatness is Not Something You are Born With

Greatness is Not Something You are Born With

Greatness is not something you are born with.  Greatness is something you achieve, and most of the time; it’s acquired through great struggle, failure and disappointment.  There’s no equation or scientific formula that can predict who will become great or who doesn't. Being born into a wealthy or prominent family cannot guarantee you greatness nor can it be deterred by a lack of money or opportunity. At the source, greatness comes from the soul of a human being. 

Envy - The Road to Ruin (+ 4 Tips)

Envy - The Road to Ruin (+ 4 Tips)

Its been said that envy is an illness so deeply ingrained in human nature that if entertained, it becomes a spiritual cancer. Envy is ruthless, cruel and often, intoxicating. I’ve seen many people become drunk on envy and it’s painful to witness. The worst and darkest part of any individual emerges when they are made to feel inferior - either by the direct behavior of an individual or by an implied feeling of not being ‘good enough’. To be specific, as artists, this emotion emerges when we see one of our contemporaries "making it" when we are in fact, still struggling and maybe even failing.

Social Media Etiquette for the Art Professional (5 tips)

Social Media Etiquette for the Art Professional (5 tips)

No one likes to be told what to do. I occasionally hate when people give me unsolicited advice but sometimes, we have to listen. I'm certainly not in the business of changing minds or forcing opinions on anyone - it's not my style. The only desire I have is to inspire and encourage anyone who's walking down the same challenging path.  That being said, let's take a moment to talk about your art business presence on social media. 

Trust Thyself, Artist (& 6 Tips)

Trust Thyself, Artist (& 6 Tips)

It's no secret I love the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Nothing empowers me more and helps me focus on what is important.  It took many years and a lot of background noise to penetrate but at 42, I feel more alive and full of energy than ever before. It wasn't always the case though – I had to wade in the same pool of self-doubt and uncertainly as many before me. I had to grow a thick skin and learn not to obsess on all the negative and ‘constructive’ criticism I seemed to attract. The journey to self-empowerment was difficult and many lessons were learned the hard way but in the end, I emerged a warrior.

Banishing the Self Taught Artist Stigma (+ 5 tips)

Banishing the Self Taught Artist Stigma (+ 5 tips)

I’m always upset when I hear an artist trying to qualify him or herself as a professional by admitting they are "self-taught."  It's very sad to hear someone who may have spent the last 10-20 years of their lives working as a professional but just because they didn't have the chance to attend college or an academy they feel insecure or illegitimate. 

What's Your Excuse?

What's Your Excuse?

Everyone has a story. The story can either be one of immense struggle that eventually yields great rewards, or an uneventful story of safe, well calculated mediocrity. But to me, the saddest story is the unmemorable life full of excuses and failure – it often reaps misery, bitterness and contempt.  Look at the great figures of history before you and their disadvantages and ask yourself - what's my excuse?

Embrace Failure

Embrace Failure

Aside from the personal nature of what failure does to an artists, I'd like for you to consider another way of thinking.  Consider this: what pushes you to grow more - success or failure? I can say with absolute confidence that my failures have made me the artist I am today.  Artist advice: embrace failure.

Never Underestimate the Value of Hard Work

Never Underestimate the Value of Hard Work

You can read about how to be an artist.  You can study all the latest trends.  You can ask for advice and you can take a lot of notes.  You can pray, ask the universe, use the law of attraction or any other mystical force to try to guide your career with positivity but one thing is for sure, if you don't do the work you'll never get anywhere as an artist.  

The Importance of Balancing Your Passions

The Importance of Balancing Your Passions

It's easy to just focus on one facet of your life and let the whole world fall behind you.  You've seen it time and time again in movies where the suave and sophisticated man is stockbroker of the year but his personal life is riddled with failure.  I've seen it many times over the last few decades with some of my peers in the art business.  They will sacrifice everything to make it big, even if it means leaving a wife, children and even a conscience behind. Life is not worth living unless you can share your success and failures with someone you love.