Cam Taylor

Be inspired. Be focused. Be tenacious.

Life Lessons Learned from Michelangelo’s Grit

Michelangelo did something worth imitating.

In 1507, Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It was an honor to be asked, but he didn’t jump into the project without stepping back first. He labored for months over hundreds of sketches, analyzing multitudes of colors and themes, before ever dipping his brush into the paint. Finally, he put up his scaffolding and started the work in 1508.

The painstaking work of painting while lying on his back was finally completed in 1512.

There was no doubt that some days were more difficult than others. Days he wondered if his work mattered. Days he didn’t feel like getting out of bed. But he pressed on!

He took great care with every brush stroke and accepted the occasional back ache as part of the process of doing his work.

One day, Michelangelo was painting in an obscure corner of the Chapel when his frustration boiled over. He was so frustrated he painted over his work and started again. One of the workers in the Chapel said to him, “Why worry over something nobody will ever see?” The great Michelangelo said, “I will know.”

Even in the face of frustration and short term failure, he regrouped and started that section over. Why? Because he was committed to doing his best work and didn’t stop when met with frustration or a temporary setback.

Michelangelo kept the big picture in mind and let his future goal motivate him to endure. He keep going until his vision was realized.

We saw this again in his work on the famous statue called “David” that Michelangelo carved. It was started by the Italian sculptor Agostino d’Antonio who worked diligently on the large piece of marble until giving up in disgust. “I can do nothing with this!” were his words as he laid his hammer and chisel down.

Other sculptors also gave up—until Michelangelo came along. He was quoted as saying, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” It took him four years but when the world laid eyes on it, they looked upon one of the greatest pieces ever sculpted by Michelangelo.

What do you envision yourself doing that needs both the inner drive to keep doing your best work and the ability to keep the bigger long range picture in mind so you see success?

Grab your brush or your chisel and keep working. At the core, you’re building your character but you’re also making a contribution that only you can make.

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About Cam Taylor

Life and leadership coach, transition & change specialist, husband, dad, leader, writer, life long learner.

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