As a child, I loved to draw and to paint. The best present I ever received was a set of Winsor and Newton Inks and some Rotring pens. Even when I was in primary school I sold paintings to my classmates, mainly pictures of Snoopy, and I’d won two major art competitions before I was nine years old. But my mum would often say to me “You’re not good at art like your sister, are you? She’s really good at it.” And my dad would be saying “Art is a waste of time, you’ll never earn any money from it. You need to do something that will help you get a proper job.” Ironic really, because he was a chartered engineer and draftsman, designing fire engines and drawing intricate designs for a living.
The thing is, art is like many other things, the more you do it, the more you practice, the better you get. I remember a friend drawing a picture of a car. She said to her mum, “I can’t draw cars, my picture is rubbish!” Her mum said, “It isn’t very good, but would you like to be able to do it really well? I could help you practice every day for the next two weeks and I guarantee if you spend just fifteen minutes a day practicing drawing the car, in two weeks you’ll be really good at it!” Of course, my friend said yes and two weeks later she was drawing amazing pictures of cars. Her mum could have said “No, your picture’s really good! You should be proud of it! Don’t put yourself down!” It would have boosted my friend’s ego temporarily but two weeks later she wouldn’t have been any better at drawing cars.
I didn’t have the support my friend had, and at times I went long periods without getting my pens out. When I was older and got married if I got my pens out my husband would say, “You’re good at art but not good enough to make any money out of it. You’re wasting your time” and the pens would be put away again.
I'm older and wiser now and I no longer listen to negative people who criticise others for things they can’t do themselves. My pens are out now and staying out. I love to paint and to draw. And the more I do the better I get.
Picasso once said, “I am always doing things I can’t do – that’s how I get to do them.” Imagine if someone had said to him, “You can’t draw people!” I doubt that he would have listened to them, instead, he would have continued practicing.
How about you? Can you get back into doing what you loved to do when you were younger? Brainstorm how you can bring that back into your life now. And a little bit more the next day. And so on.
Whatever you want to do, put in the hours, and get really good at it. Practice every day to improve. Don’t just use affirmations to try and pretend you are good, put in the work and constantly strive to improve.
As Picasso said, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
Start today! Set aside at least a few minutes every day to practice. Become an expert at what you do.