I was listening to Ed Cooke, British author and memory expert, on the Tim Ferriss podcast and he said something really interesting. He was talking about merit. Society tells us that if someone works very hard and is paid good money for their efforts they are worthy of that success. They are worthy as a human being.
But what if someone has an amazing world view that could promote change or is a talented artist who creates paintings that move people. But they have not translated that gift into a money-earning venture. Are they worthy of success? Are they successful?
Van Gogh died at age 37 and sold one painting while he was alive. He led a troubled life and painted the world-renowned Starry Night after committing himself to living in an asylum.
Did Van Gogh have merit? Was he an artist? Was he successful? Should he have stopped painting because it ‘wasn’t getting him anywhere?’ Or was it such an ingrained passion that he couldn’t have stopped even if he wanted to?
Of course we need money to eat, to have a place to lay our head at night, to do all the things we need to do. But Ed Cooke really got me thinking about merit and whether it is defined by what society deems successful or what we define success as for ourselves.
What is your Starry Night? Are you on the path to creating it?