Think of yourself as an iceberg. In the illustration below, you are on the right, and on the left is someone who works in the same field but is more successful than you. The tips of these icebergs are identical, and they represent talent. That is, you are just as talented as your rival is. Now, the rest of the icebergs represents things like confidence, social skills, empathy, ability to manage stress, negotiation skills, understanding what other people want, marketing skills, health, business savvy, etc.. In other words, it represents everything else that the public does not care to know about you.
Now, keep in mind that only about 10% of ice floats above the surface. What happens when both you and your rival jump into the water of the real world?
People as well as businesses are all remembered for certain things, but their success has more to do with what’s under the surface than what is exposed above the surface. In some cases, depending on how big your rival is under the surface, he may even be less talented, yet more successful than you are. And, it is counter-productive to keep polishing what’s above the surface, if what’s below it isn’t growing.
But sometimes some people get really lucky...
For instance, sometimes you as an artist could be “discovered” by powerful people like gallery dealers. They help you float above the surface, but the problem with this picture is that you would have no control over your own fate because you are not floating on your own. If the dealer decides to leave you, you would sink back down, and people would again see you for what you really are.
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