Sunday, February 19, 2012

The diligent hand: don't underestimate it

Photo by Mary Morgan
I completed an interview this week of illustrator John Manders. Among his many accomplishments, John has illustrated more than 30 children's books. Beyond that, he's also done more illustrations for children's magazines than I care to count. Taking valuable time from his busy schedule, he answered my questions in more detail than I had expected, which was tremendous. Like a vein of gold running throughout his obvious joy at illustrating and sometimes writing children's books, you couldn't miss the central message.

The secret to his success is that he works hard. Very hard.

Every day, John gets up early and goes to his studio where he puts in a solid day of work. Yes, he takes out time to walk his dog India who likes to doze nearby while he works. Yes, he has dinner and takes walks with his wife while they catch up with each other in the evening. But even after a long day, he often returns to the studio for a couple of extra hours of work. By my calculations, I'm guessing that he's probably logging ten hour days. Maybe more depending on his deadlines.

The moral to this story? Never underestimate diligence. Sure, you can be talented. Sure, you can be smart. Those are good things. But good, old-fashioned hard work is the foundation that will cause you to have the staying power of a true craftsman of excellence in whatever you do.

Comments? How do you cultivate excellence in your own craft? Have you seen benefits from your stick-to-itness?

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