Unfortunately, for most of my life, heroes were a bummer. You see, I belong to a smaller group who are overwhelmed by the great accomplishments of others. Standing in awe of their success, we become intimidated. Surrendering to the belief that they possess a secret something we lack, we give up. Then we wander the earth condemned to live life alternating between regret for never having tried and resentful toward those who made it. Of course we tell ourselves it was only because, “they got all the breaks that we really deserved,” but deep down we know better.
So, how do those of us who tend to fall prey to this way of thinking find any inspiration at all? I think I may have found the answer and it has become my motto for success -“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”
Credit for this conclusion must go to one of my Art Instructors at the now defunct Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts. His name was Mr. Bonavito. Mr. Bonavito was a real old-timer rumored to have exhibited with Picasso. Ironically, this transformative event occurred the day he caught me looking through a book of Picasso’s masterpieces. He looked over my shoulder to see what I was looking at and then said,
“Don’t look at that, it’ll screw your head up.”
I looked up at him, “Really?”
“Yes, if you want to be inspired don’t compare yourself to what these guys accomplished at the height of their careers. Compare your work to what they were doing when they were just starting out. You’ll see most of their stuff was crap, just like yours.”
That was the most effective compliment I had ever received. Mr. Bonavito’s simple advice revolutionized my outlook. It clicked! The secret to succeeding is, “Its OK to suck as a beginner.” For the first time in my life I realized that everyone sucked as a beginner, even Picasso. And everyone was insecure in the beginning too. Even the most courageous have insecurities about a new challenge. Maybe this should have been obvious, but I never even considered it. What an inspiring thought! If my heroes could suck as beginners, then I could too!
So, if you are starting on a new adventure toward your heart’s desire, be inspired that those you look up to were once just as insecure and inexperienced as you. Remind yourself that, “anything worth doing is worth doing badly,” and take a liberating step toward your success. Before you know it, you'll be a hero motivating others with your lousy start, too.