Balance is overrated.
Any one who has ever done anything truly remarkable was passionate, devoted to their craft to the point of obsession. Talent is all good and great, but talent is a tiny part of what it takes to be truly great. The bulk of it is work, pure work ethic.
I’m not talking about mindless hard work; I’m talking about hard smart work. I’m talking about investing in your craft, buying materials, equipment, reading books, doing tutorials, listening or looking at your inspirations day in day out. I’m talking about breathing, eating, sleeping your craft. I’m talking about devotion. I’m talking about obsession.
It’s the one thing that separates the greatest from the good enough.
If mediocrity is all you need to satisfy you, then that’s fine. You don’t need to be obsessed. You just need to show up, do what is needed and clock out. If you want to be great…that’s a different ball game.
“…lock yourself in a room doing five beats a day for three summers /
that’s a different world like three summers, /
I deserve to do these numbers…”
– Spaceship – Kanye West
Five beats a day, for three summers, that’s five beats a day, everyday for a total of 9 months…not counting the other beats he would have done at other times! Dedication! Obsession. Its something Mr West has retained and maintained to this very day, on every album, on every creative project.
“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right?
You’re not going to out-work me. It’s such a simple, basic concept. The guy who is willing to hustle the most is going to be the guy that just gets that loose ball. The majority of people who aren’t getting the places they want or aren’t achieving the things that they want in this business is strictly based on hustle. It’s strictly based on being out-worked; it’s strictly based on missing crucial opportunities. I say all the time if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.”
– Will Smith
We envy famous people (people who are wildly successful or great at what they do because they are actually really good at something). We want to be one of them, but we never understand the work that goes into it, the thankless hours, the years spent perfecting their crafts. I saw a video of Kanye performing in ’96. Young ass dude performing doing his thing…15 years later, still at it, world famous, doing mind blowing stuff. Everyone of the greats, you can trace their path decades into the past, into their childhood…Jay Z knocking out rhymes on the kitchen table, Jordan taking jump shots in the high school gym, and so on.
To be truly great at what you do, you cant just put in regular hours. You need to be obsessed. You need to come in earlier, and leave days later. You need to read everything you can read about your craft. You need to practice over and over and over again. You need to do this for years. You need to do your work, you need to earn your play.
And then you will attain greatness.