On Effort and Talent
Whenever I see something that’s beautifully curated all I can see is the sweat: I think the effort is what’s most interesting. I like people who try very hard. […]
Here’s what I know: if someone’s much better than you at something, they probably try much harder. You probably underestimate how much harder they try. I’m not saying that talent isn’t a meaningful differentiator, because it certainly is, but I think people generally underestimate how effort needs to be poured into talent in order to develop it. So much of getting good at anything is just pure labour: figuring out how to try and then offering up the hours. If you’re doing it wrong you can do it a thousand times and not produce any particularly interesting results. So you have to make sure you’re trying the right way.
I’m not interested in the end result—the wonderful thing they’ve made—when what I’m really interested in is the process. How did you get this way and why? I’m curious about the ugliness of trying, the years and years of wanting and hoping and working. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by craft. I think it’s because it requires such a sustained tenacity. Like Michelangelo saying that he just chips away at everything that didn’t look like David: a hundred thousand little motions to reveal the underlying beauty.
I think a lot of people want to be but they don’t want to do. They want to have written a book, but they don’t want to write the book. They want to be fit, but they don’t want the tedium of working out. They’re ashamed of rejection and they’re ashamed of imperfection. […]
I think people make the best things when they love the process when they willingly shoulder the inherent uncertainty and pain that comes with it. It’s almost like a form of prayer: you offer up what you can even though the reward is uncertain. You do it out of love. […] I don’t want to pretend like I’m too good for ugliness, for effort, when I know very well that it’s the price that unlocks everything beautiful in the world.
Until the next time, Invest in Yourself and Sweat Your Assets