Compare You With You

Here’s an interesting quote I stumbled across:

Artists frequently hide the steps that lead to their masterpieces. They want their work and their career to be shrouded in the mystery that it all came out at once. It’s called hiding the brushstrokes, and those who do it are doing a disservice to people who admire their work and seek to emulate them. If you don’t get to see the notes, the rewrites, and the steps, it’s easy to look at a finished product and be under the illusion that it just came pouring out of someone’s head like that. People who are young, or still struggling, can get easily discouraged, because they can’t do it like they thought it was done. An artwork is a finished product, and it should be, but I always swore to myself that I would not hide my brushstrokes.

~Matthew Weiner (Creator of Mad Men)

Sometimes, we forget that when we see someone execute skill with percision and grace, we are not seeing the countless hours of practice and error that went into that moment.  There is an interesting question raised in the West Wing about pharmaceuticals:

How much does the first pill cost?
$1 million.
How much does the second pill cost?

The first pill is the culmination of time, dollars and research to create.  But once it’s created, the set-up cost is done.  You can reliably reproduce the product at only the cost of material.  Skills work the same way.  You go to school, you pay for an education, you put in time to gain experience, you practice endlessly, all for that one moment when you swiftly carry out what has been drilled into your head.

Therefore, there is a flaw in comparing your skill with those of an expert.  You should stick to comparing apples to apples.  Not apples to apple crisp.


Stay Awesome,



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