I read a blog post today that really resonated with me. I don't know the author personally but we're Facebook friends. He's an excellent artist, holds himself to quite a high standard and it shows in his work. His post was about just that - standards. In it he mentions Gordon Ramsay of Hell's Kitchen fame. I haven't really been a fan of Ramsay's because I just couldn't take all the yelling and screaming he was doing at the people on the show. I don't know how much of that was really him or just for ratings - maybe it's both and the producers really know what they're doing.
"Ramsay is a rare example of an individual who can bring out the passion and the very best in someone. He's like a drill sergeant, a mentor, your high school principal and you're best friend all in one. The guy is a genius. What I appreciate more than anything is his strict adherence to standards."
Ok, to be fair I haven't watched much of Ramsay's shows but if he's all that maybe I should give him a bit more time and give his show another watch. I do have to say that since I have a son in the restaurant biz and people have suggested that he try to get on to that show, the thought just makes me cringe. It's just the momma bear in me wanting to protect my cub from such treatment (although my son can certainly take care of himself).
So anyway, back to the point.... the post was about standards in art.
"Hold your art to these same standards. Gordon doesn't sugar coat it. When he sees laziness and low self-esteem in people, he kicks them square in the arse and gets them to believe in themselves. Summon your inner Gordon, dammit, and whip yourself into the person you should be! Great people are not created, they are made. Stop acting like a pathetic version of yourself."
There it is.... the line that got me - "Stop acting like a pathetic version of yourself." It's so easy to fall into that. It's so easy to fall into a pattern of our work being good enough to just pass muster. When our students do it Kelli and I fight it and try to get them to push beyond that point. When we teach we work at getting them to realize their potential. We get them to work harder. We're especially hard on the people who have the most to give. They may not always like it. Many times we hear - am I done yet? Many times the answer is no. We work at getting them to move beyond the point where they feel they can stop and get away with it. Good enough just isn't good enough.
Then I have to go to the studio and face my own work. This is where I look at what I do and wonder - am I doing all I can do? Am I taking my own advice when I walk into the studio? Can I go that extra inch or mile? What can I do to make my work better? We can all step back and take a look at what we're doing. Evaluate. See where we can improve. Take the steps to make that happen. Stop with the excuses. Own it and make it.
Sometimes we all need a kick in the ass.