No one wants to be a failure, in their own eyes or that of others. For this reason, there is a preponderance of books, DVDs, and other teaching matter designed to teach us — be we artists, knitters, marathon runners, short order cooks, or gardeners — the secrets to successfully doing anything we have an interest in doing.
Do you want to know the sure-fire methods to paint the perfect portrait? There’s a DVD for that.
How about marketing your work and getting into any show you try for? There’s a book for that.
The fail-safe way of communicating with with any human being and getting them to do whatever it is you want them to do? DVD and book.
If there’s something that you want to learn how to do, not only is there a corresponding workshop, seminar, video product, book, class, or teacher, but too many of these resources promise to impart secrets that you didn’t know existed, and you obviously don’t have.
It reminds me of the vitamin ads. Or the “You, Too, Can Be a Millionaire Using my Unique Techniques” books. The problem does not lie in the actual imparting of information — after all, that’s why we buy books and attend workshops and watch DVDs — because we want to learn, and these resources, hopefully, have the information we need to do so.
The problem lies in a promise that is more than anyone can deliver: the secret to success.
Seriously, if there were such a thing, how long do you think that it could be kept a secret?
And yet, we keep chasing after it, convinced that we alone are out of the loop, that we’re poor because we don’t follow techniques 1 through 6, that if we’re savvy enough to find the right resource then we’ll join the ranks of the elite.
Logic tells us, however, that if we’re going to run a triathlon and finish it, much less place anywhere, then we’re looking at months of disciplined training: working out, day after day, even when we don’t feel like it; eating right, to the point of saying no to cheesecake; running in the wind, bicycling uphill, swimming when it’s cold — continuously keeping at it and incrementally improving.
If there’s any secret to success, that’s it.
Related article: The Secret to Successfully Marketing Your Work