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!