Learning to be ignored

For everything that an artist puts into the world, there is the fear of rejection. The fear that nobody would care enough, and that his work would join the pile of obscurity that most art does.

A budding artist learns to be ignored. Most greats artists have spent years in obscurity, sharpening their saw everyday. Stephen King pinned his rejected stories on the walls of his bedroom, until there was no space left. Kurt Vonnegut spent 20 years in obscurity being discovered. Vincent van Gogh was ignored all along, through his 2000 art works and until he killed himself.

It takes thousands of hours of deliberate practice to become world class at something. The audience does not have those hours to spare to applaud an artist along his way. Their lives are filled with their own challenges. Apart from cat videos, the internet has put at their disposal world class art from across the world. The art of people who are at the other end of the thousands of hours of practice. When they could listen to Diana Krall or Herbie Hancock, few people would rather listen to a musician practice.

The key then, as an artist, is to learn to play the long game. In a short game, we expect a clear result after 90 minutes. There are football managers who have achieved great success by learning to love the result. In a long game though, we learn to love the game, not the result. We learn to love the act of showing up everyday, and not the applause that ought to follow our performance.

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