I feel so blessed to stare out my window this morning and see the brilliance of color splashed on the trees in the back of the property, the distant gray-blue hills, and the twinkle of light kissing the slightly moving leaves. Sleepily I shuffle across the porch, hot coffee in hand, shoeless, and my ears are treated to the sounds of Sunday morning as I open the door. A distant lawnmower from a neighbor, the faraway harmony of a train horn, and the sounds of notes coming from tiny beaks.

But how do tiny beaks become big birds? How do we as mere mortals become mega-mortals, or giants? How does one become the top in one’s field? How do people become wealthy or highly accomplished?

There is no easy answer, but I can share some clues.

  1. It starts with work ethic. No one I’ve ever met that at the top had it easy. Outworking everyone else is the starting point. You have to be willing to do everything, and work harder than anyone you know, and have the ability to sustain a high level of work for decades, even after your success begins.
  2. Next on the list is passion, desire, and commitment. I never have believed that money is a driver for most people. Money is a byproduct. But if you are passionate and committed to something, you’ll work to make it happen and won’t get discouraged when things get difficult.
  3. The biggest challenge in success is mindset. Your mindset controls everything — which can be positive or negative. Most of us have deep limitations in our beliefs about our ability or ideas. A good rule of thumb … if the idea seems impossible and scares you, that’s the idea you should pursue. If it does not seem impossible, it’s not big enough.
  4. Next, embrace and overcome your fear, giving yourself the courage to go forward. You need to adopt the attitude that you’re going forward no matter how difficult.
  5. Of course with work ethic, passion, commitment, mindset, and overcoming fear, you still have the problem of not knowing HOW to do it. You cannot succeed without capability. But where do you get it? I believe when the other things are aligned, you will do what it takes to learn what you need. We tend to rise to the occasion each time we need more capability.
  6. The final step is confidence, which comes with the accomplishments you make. Confidence drives you to embrace fear, and keep stepping out to get beyond the next limitation.

I might go so far as to say that sometimes a little luck or a little timing comes into play, but most people make their luck and are ready to jump on opportunity because of their mindset, their willingness to overcome fear, and their courage.

The other thing is that, though it’s lonely at the top (true), we all need other people to help us succeed. It’s important to pick people who believe in your passion, people you can trust. And be sure to share your goals with others (though they may not dream as big as you).

Limitations do exist, but fewer than we think. And if you have courage, you look at roadblocks and ask yourself how to get over, under, or around them. Most limitations are fear-driven and self-imposed. Overcoming these kinds of limitations is the best predictor of success. In reality, in most cases you’re not too young, too old, too underprivileged, too sick, too poor. Motivation comes from desire to solve a problem like poverty or bad circumstances.

And if you think being privileged offers an advantage, it sometimes does, and sometimes does not. I know wealthy people who gave their kids opportunity, but the kids did nothing with it. Wealth isn’t a predictor. Passion is.

If you allow yourself to have big dreams, you can make them happen. I deeply believe this. My belief isn’t based on theory but from seeing it in action. You truly can dream the impossible dream.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Necessity is the mother of invention. Sometimes our plans don’t work out. When COVID hit, it slammed my business and we were on the edge of not surviving. But we had to face it head on, and do it fast, and that meant facing fear head on. It also meant reinvention. The good news is that so far, by doing online events, we’ve been able to get through it. Just this past week, ending last night, we wrapped up our four-day Realism Live event. Our next one, in January, will be Watercolor Live.

I’d like to thank the hundreds of people worldwide who joined us to learn, grow, and be part of the community of artists. I’m honored by your presence.

PPS: If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram  (please do) stay tuned for a new art challenge in honor of Thanksgiving. I’ll be announcing it soon!

Here is what’s going on at Streamline this week.

  • The deadline to sign up for our next virtual online conference, Watercolor Live, and save up to $600 off your ticket is TOMORROW, November 15.
  • Tuesday, November 16 is your last chance to get the new Kyle Buckland video, Courageous Color, at a pre-release discount! Don’t miss out before the price goes up.
  • I’m always signing artists who are hot. In fact, we don’t sign anyone unless they are the best of the best, or if they are a hot up-and-comer. We’ll be releasing a new video from Kevin Macpherson soon, so keep an eye on your e-mail for that announcement.
  • We’re all ready to be out and about freely, with our family of artists. If that’s you, I should mention that the Plein Air Convention will sell out fast (it’s already 50% sold) for next May in Santa Fe. And because of my daily broadcast, we will see more new people. But we have to limit it to 1,200 people, so I recommend not waiting. You can cancel any time without penalty.
  • Be sure to watch my Art School Live show this week at noon Eastern by following Eric Rhoads, Publisher on Facebook