Have you ever been given a job assignment you really didn't want to do? If so, then you have something in common with Michelangelo, the famous Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect and poet.
Apart from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo is arguably the greatest artist of all time. He may have been prodigious, brilliant and divinely inspired, but that doesn't mean he wasn't human. And mere humans can be cranky.
Most people are familiar with the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, Rome. Aside from serving as a venue for the election of new popes via a conclave of the College of Cardinals, the Sistine Chapel is most notable for its remarkable frescoe paintings. Most famous of all are the frescoes by Michelangelo.
Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, but Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor. In fact, he was busy with a sculpting project when the good Pope came knocking with the Sistine Chapel job. He didn't want to take the commission. He actually looked down on painting. He was a sculptor, for crying out loud! But what's a poor Renaissance superstar to do, say no to the Pope?
Michelangelo had to construct special scaffolds to paint the Sistine Chapel. And despite conventional wisdom, he didn't actually lie down on the scaffolds to paint. He stood up. But still. He labored on the project from 1508 until 1512.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the german writer and statesman, said this about Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel: "Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving."
Few if any among us possess the monumental artistic talent of Michelangelo. But beyond his artistic skill, Michelangelo does demonstrate another skill that is within our grasp. What Michelangelo can teach us about success is simply this: You have to show up.
Yes, talent and skill matter. But the world is full of talented, skilled individuals who fail. The reason why is that they are unable to consistently show up. It's our human inclination to grow bored with routine and repetition. We start new projects and goals with great gusto. But after a bit we fizzle out.
What often separates the successful from the unsuccessful is consistency. Michelangelo wanted to sculpt, but never the less he spent over four years painting instead. He showed up. Day in and day out. Straddling awkward scaffolds, painting masterful frescoes that the world still marvels at.
Certainly there were days he loathed the effort. In fact, he wrote to friends about the strain of his labors. But he kept showing up. If you want to lose weight, you'll need to follow Michelangelo's example. You'll have to stick to that diet and exercise. If you want to quit the liquor for good, you'll have to overcome those cravings. One day at a time. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you'll have to keep swinging the bat every day. Weather the ups and downs. Day after day.
In all these things, you have to show up. Again and again. Because that's what separates the ones who succeed from the ones who don't. And that's what Michelangelo can teach us about success.