Why Persistance Beats Talent

And how to overcome your destructive patterns

Persistance is the invisible force that propels artists forward.

Even when the world seems determined to push them back.

Your creative journey will be filled with challenges—rejection, criticism, self-doubt.

But those who achieve greatness aren’t necessarily the most talented; they’re the ones who refuse to give up.

In this letter, we’ll dive into the essence of persistence, explore its critical role in the creative process, and provide actionable tips to keep you moving forward on your creative path.

Defining Persistance in the Creative Process

Persistence in creativity isn’t just about stubbornly sticking to your work.

It’s about a relentless pursuit of improvement, a determination to overcome obstacles, and a commitment to your craft.

While talent (or as Robert Greene would say; a primal inclination) can give you a head start, it’s persistence that keeps you in.

Think of persistence as the engine driving your creative journey, fuelling your efforts and pushing you forward.

Most think they should feel passionate about something to start being persistant about it.

It is persistance and discipline that will transform anything into a passion. Not the other way around.

A passion is not given to you, it is built by you.

The Importance of Persistance

Improvement & Mastery

Persistent effort is the secret behind skill improvement and mastery.

The more you practice, the better you get.

It’s not rocket science, but it’s a truth often overlooked in our instant-gratification culture.

Creatives, artists, and scientists we look up to, from writers, to painters, to inventors, didn’t achieve greatness overnight.

They honed their skills day after day, year after year, through persistent practice.

Vincent van Gogh created over 2,100 artworks, many of which were only recognized as masterpieces after his death.

Mozart composed over 600 pieces, including some of the most famous pieces of symphonic, chamber, operatic, and choral music.

Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks show and describe over a hundred mechanisms, devices, and apparatuses that are considered the first mentions of their kind.

Not a single human became a “genius” or a master overnight.

What they all have in common is a path to mastery with dedication, persistance, and discipline.

Overcoming Creative Blocks

Creative blocks are the bane of any artist’s existence.

They’re frustrating, demoralising, and can make you question your path. Sometimes even your worth.

But persistence is your best ally in pushing through these tough times.

We talked last week about creative routines; establishing a routine, seeking inspiration in unexpected places, and consistently showing up to create—even when you don’t feel like it—can help you break through it.

Creativity is not meant to be rushed, it’s a slow steady process.

So you need to take slow and steady steps.

The long-term benefits of persistence are beyond measure.

When you commit to your craft over the long run, you build a body of work that not only showcases your growth but also stands as a testament to your dedication.

The admiration I have for certain people, who I consider masters in their craft, goes way beyond the work they produce.

My respect and admiration is for their dedication. Because this is the condition for outstanding work, and it is also the thing most people don’t achieve.

They give up way earlier.

And so the commitment can lead to significant achievements and recognition, often when you least expect it.

The cumulative effect of small, consistent efforts cannot be underestimated.

Overcoming Obstacles

Every creative faces obstacles.

Rejection, criticism, and self-doubt are just part of the journey.

Rejection stings, criticism can feel like a personal attack, and self-doubt can paralyse you.

But these challenges also offer valuable lessons and opportunities for growth.

Dealing with Rejection and Criticism

Understand that rejection isn’t a reflection of your worth or your talent; it’s simply part of the creative process.

And constructive criticism, though hard to hear, is a gift. It provides insights that can refine your work.

But the first step for you to be able to hear criticism, is for you to detach your self-worth from your work.

The moment you do, you are able to hear out what others have to say without your ego feeling threatened and shutting you down as a result.

And when you hear out others, you can easily tell what is constructive feedback and what is not.

Someone’s judgement is only a threat to you or your work if you allow it to be.

Read that again.

Combating Self-Doubt

Self-doubt is a sneaky one, whispering that you’re not good enough. That you’ll never be good enough.

Getting a little personal here; this has been one of my biggest battles.

Seeking external validation to quiet the incessant voice inside telling me it’s never enough.

Until I recently decided to put a halt to what is driving most of my inner suffering.

And I came to a realisation:

You don’t combat or fight it.

Because it comes from your ego, and the moment you try to fight against it you’ll lose that battle.

Your ego is the greatest fighter you’ll ever encounter. It lives within you and there is no point in trying to “kill it”. You need to learn to work with it, not to compete against it.

The way I have personally found to work around it and its destructive mind patterns, is to simply dismiss it.

You might hear that voice every now and then. And it’s okay. Just let it be. Watch it, hear it, observe it. But you don’t have to take it.

The moment you become a witness to that voice, you stop identifying with it.

And the moment you stop identifying with it, the pain and resistance goes away.

This becomes a spiritual practice outside of your creative journey, but with positive consequences beyond words.

The thing is, if you believe what that voice is telling you about your worth, you are unconsciously going to look for confirmation outside yourself.

Any event, critique, or feedback that will tell you that you or your work suck.

Since you’re looking for this specifically, even if you do it unconsciously, confirmation is the only thing you’ll always find. Your view won’t be open enough to see all the counter arguments.

And by doing so, you’re feeding the beast that becomes bigger and bigger with your unconscious help. A vicious cycle terribly difficult to get out of.

Now, I cannot tell you, just like I cannot tell myself, “simply stop believing in that voice.”

If it worked, everyone would be enlightened and at peace with themselves and each other, which is far from reality.

What I can tell you however, is to raise your level of consciousness slightly higher.

Being aware, in any given situation or circumstance, is the first step to creativity, connection with yourself and others, and inner peace.

Become a witness, an observer of your mind. Just like you do with the outside world, apply it inside you.

And be persistant in that practice.

Tips for Remaining Persistant

Setting Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is crucial.

The bigger the outcome you want, the more resistance you’ll have to start working towards it.

Break down larger projects into manageable tasks.

Here is an example:

Let’s say you want to reach out to a brand because you want to collaborate with them. Here is a 7-day task breakdown:

Day 1: Write down ideas of projects you would enjoy creating. Just list ideas. Nothing else.

Day 2: Put in order of preference the ideas you’ve come up with the previous day, and just write next to it why or what you enjoyed specifically about that idea.

Day 3: Do some research on the brand you want to reach out to and try to understand what is their overall mission (if you don’t know it yet), and what seems to be their short and mid-term priorities. You can do this by just checking the type of content they share on their social media. What do they write about, what are their newsletter’s main topics…

Day 4: Based on your research from the previous day, go back to your idea preference list. Now connect which idea would work best for the priorities you’ve identified from the brand. Write down why you think this or this idea would work for them.

Day 5: Take the winning idea you decided on the previous day, and start drafting a project outline; the objective, the deliverables (based on your skillset), the audience, the requirements (budget, equipment, people…). No need to write perfectly yet, just create an outline with sections you need to include to make the idea clear to someone who has never seen it before.

Day 6: Let’s say you have 6 sections total defined from the previous day, now expand on 3/6 and write the details of each.

Day 7: Finish the 3 remaining sections, send an email with the proposal.

Don’t overcomplicate it. Each day can be less than an hour of focused work.

And if some of the steps makes you feel too much resistance still, break it down further.

This not only keeps you motivated but also makes the journey less daunting.

Building a Support System

A strong support system can make all the difference.

Surround yourself first with close friends and people you love that support you. No matter what you do, they are happy to see you evolve and try out things.

Surround yourself second with fellow creatives who understand your struggles and can offer encouragement.

For example, you might know from Instagram Hugo Korhonen (@hugoraphy), with who we organise weekly or bi-weekly calls to support each other, share insights, struggles, ask for feedback…

You suddenly realise you’re not alone trying to achieve things. And that helps a lot.

Maintaining a Positive Mindset

Some people hate the word mindset.

Fair enough if you do, find another word that you prefer if that’s the case. It doesn’t change the following point I want to make.

Negative things will always be presented to you by your mind.

Your mind is a problem-solver by nature. So it’s going to look for problems everywhere.

As mentioned earlier, just let it be.

When it becomes too overwhelming and it impacts your ability to enjoy small things in life, like the presence of your loved one over a phone call or a dinner, this is your sign to become the witness of your thoughts and disidentify with them.

Bring your level of consciousness higher, and accept the negative things. That’s another way of saying “keep a positive mindset”.

Take breaks when needed. Breaks from your work and break from your mind.

Remember, persistence doesn’t mean working non-stop; it means staying committed to your goals even as you take care of yourself.

Persistence is the foundation of creative success.

It’s the force that drives you to improve, helps you overcome obstacles, and keeps you committed to your craft over the long haul.

While talent and inspiration are important, it’s persistence that ultimately leads to lasting success and fulfilment.

And persistance can only happen once you start detaching yourself from what your mind is telling you when it’s telling you to stop, or that it’s too uncomfortable.

If you made id that far, thank you for your time.

See you in the next one,