What I Learned Today about Grit and Career Transition from Vincent Van Gogh


Have you seen one of Van Gogh’s iconic masterpieces (even a reproduction), such as the Sunflowers still life? It’s easy to think, “Ah, what a genius he was to paint such a brilliant work of art.“

I was lucky enough to visit the Van Gogh Museum this morning in Amsterdam. Museums that focus on one artist are immensely rewarding because you learn about the details of the artist’s life and see how his/her style developed over time.

Van Gogh decided to become a painter at age 27, after working for a few years as an art dealer and then as a lay minister. He trained relentlessly for several years to become a painter, primarily on his own. The tenacity it took to hone his artistic skills was enormous. He needed even more grit to continue as an artist since he failed to sell a single painting during his lifetime. He produced over 200 works before his tragic death at age 37.

Along with memories of stunning canvases, I left the museum today reminded that career transition is easier when you can tap into your passion. At the same time, you have to be open to re-tooling your skills if necessary. That requires tenacity…. but it’s well worth the effort.