develop grit like michelangelo

In his book Real Artists Don’t Starve, Jeff Goins writes that one key component to becoming a thriving artist is to strategically harness your stubbornness and transform into grit. 

A great epitome of this perennial grit as an outcome of strategic stubbornness is none other than Michelangelo. When he was thirty years old, he started working on a tomb for Pope Julius II in February 1505. The artist had some grand plans for this tomb, making it a sight to behold. 

But as time went, the pope started losing interest in this project and didn’t give it much attention. Due to this, Michelangelo became angry and fled Rome. Later he came back and both him and Pope Julius worked out their disagreements and agreed to continue the project. 

In 1506 and 1507, Michelangelo started experiencing discomfort and exhaustion due to working day and night on this project. In spite of this, he channeled his stubbornness into grit and was still geared towards its completion. 

In spring 1508, the Pope reassigned Michelangelo from the tomb to painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Although Michelangelo had a new project to focus on, he refused to give up and leave the tomb as it was without its completion. He reduced the scale of the tomb’s design and made it more manageable instead. Having done this, he returned to it whenever he got the chance until it got finally completed in 1545, taking forty years in totality. 

Michelangelo was tempted several times to give up on the tomb altogether, but he still kept going. This is an exceptional display of grit of a real artist. In spite of his personal shortcomings and professional obstacles, Michelangelo was a stubborn man, and he knew how to channel this stubbornness into grit. This is the reason why he was able to complete so many magnificent works. 

Stubbornness can be our ally if we learn to channel it into grit, a tool that we can use for the benefit of our art. As Goins writes, “Stubbornness can be an essential ingredient in making a living off your art. When you harness your strategic stubbornness, you give the world a reason to believe in your work.”