I think the fifth chapter might be my favorite of The Artisan Soul. Cards on the table, I haven’t read the sixth yet, but still. McManus has a habit of speaking in cliches, but providing new perspectives on them.
The one he focuses on this chapter is that nothing is achieved without hard work. This is an age old adage, hard work pays off. However, an age old tendency is to want to succeed without hard work, which McManus posits, is not possible. “We hope that discovering our talents, and even our calling or purpose, will lead to effortless success. I would propose that the exact opposite is true: if God created us to be successful at something, then he has called us to work hard at it,” (130). I love the end of this, if we were designed to be great in a field, we must work to achieve that greatness; it is not just bestowed upon us.
McManus says this does not mean some people are just naturally talented at something. Of course there will always be people who are naturally talented. But if they don’t work to refine that talent, it will flounder. However, if they do put in the work, “Talent, when fully developed, becomes a strength,” (130). You can see this in all the top athletes in any field. They spend hours and hours every single day for many years practicing it. I’ve always been a fan of Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory, and this is a perfect interpretation of it.
If we want to be great, we must put in the work. However, “Anything we aspire to do an an expression of our artisan soul requires inspiration and strength,” (131). You cannot achieve great things without passion or inspiration. It takes time and commitment and if you are not passionate about it, you will not stay committed.
I love one statement McManus makes in particular. “It’s been a wonderful realization after fifty years of life that if we work hard enough, hard work will eventually be mistaken for talent. And if we refuse to give up, perseverance will eventually be mistaken for greatness,” (133). I had never thought about this prior, but it makes perfect sense.
I am not the most talented writer out there. In fact, I have two impairments that should hinder me from becoming a great writer and editor. I am both dyslexic and dysgraphic. This makes me a slow reader and writer. I will often read the same sentence a dozen times before I realize I’ve already read it. However, this makes me be more deliberate when I read. I also used to be morbidly slow when I typed, but a couple years ago, I decided if I was going to do this for a profession, I needed to type more than twenty-five words a minute. So every day for several months, I would take typing tests for half an hour. It was boring an painstaking, but I now type about sixty words per minute and can type without looking at the keyboard at all. This might seem like a minor feat, but it took a monumental amount of time and work.
I always strive to be the best at my craft. God gave me a bit of talent but a lot of passion for writing. That’s why I work harder than anyone else I know when it comes to writing. I bite off more than I can chew and write as much as I can so that one day my work might be mistaken for talent.