Thursday, June 6, 2013

Toying with Talent

Bertoldo de Giovanni is a name even the most enthusiastic lover of art is unlikely to recognize. In his time, he was an important sculptor but none of his work has lasted. His chief claim to fame is as a historical connector. He was the pupil of Donatello, the greatest sculptor of his time, and the teacher of Michelangelo, the greatest sculptor of all time.

Michelangelo was only fourteen years old when he came to Bertoldo, but it was already obvious that he was enormously gifted. Bertoldo was wise enough to realize that gifted people are often tempted to coast rather than to grow, and therefore he kept trying to pressure his young prodigy to work seriously at his art. One day, he came into the studio to find Michelangelo toying with a piece of sculpture far beneath his abilities. Bertoldo grabbed a hammer, stomped across the room, and smashed the work into tiny pieces, shouting his unforgettable message: "Michelangelo, talent is cheap; dedication is costly!"

What separates people is not so much their innate abilities as their motivation. Few of us live up to our potential. Excellence does not always require great gifts so much as great commitment. - Gary Inrig, "A Call to Excellence"

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