Why you shouldn’t be afraid of excellence

Being around amazing artists should inspire rather than intimidate.

“They make me want to quit.” “I can’t follow that.” “I’ll never sound that good.”

You’ll sometimes hear comments like this among musicians and artists during an incredible performance. When we say these things, we’re trying to compliment the artists we admire, but we’re also hindering our own artistry.

Every time we witness excellence, a seed of excellence is planted. If we immediately dismiss our own ability because of comparison, we rob ourselves of the seed’s power to inspire. 

Being around great artists should push us to become better, not make us shrink back in fear.

You may have noticed young artists who are exposed to great performances often want to participate rather than sit back as spectators. They are like the children that pretend to hit the last-minute shot after watching a basketball team win a championship.  The spirit of intimidation hasn’t taken root. They may not be ready to step on to the court, but they see themselves there.

The thing is to become a master, and in your old age to acquire the courage to do what children did when they knew nothing. – Henry Miller

Somewhere along the way, many of us decide we won’t ever hit the game-winning shot. We decide to admire our artistic icons from afar, forgetting that they too once looked up to other artists — and then proceeded to become our heroes.

It’s OK to be in awe of a fantastic performance, and it’s only right to honor and revere legendary artists.  However, be careful not to accept a spirit of intimidation as you look up to them.

Instead, let their excellence bring out the excellence in you.

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