I am currently reading the autobiography of Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. It's a great, detailed history of one of the best thinkers and makers in human history. Da Vinci's creations include some of the most enduring pieces of art and science ever created. He was a polymath in every sense of the word and was driven by an insatiable curiosity for seemingly every subject.
The striking part about the book, however, is how often he failed. Time and time again Da Vinci left works unfinished and ran into ruts where he just couldn't finish any significant work. He left several would-be masterpiece paintings, sculptures, engineering projects, and mathematical theories unfinished.
In fact, it took him until the middle part of his career to really produce anything of note. It took that long for all his interests to combine in just the right way and for his worldview to evolve to match his soul.
I think this is remarkable because often when we look back at larger than life heroes we envision a life of non-stop excellence. We think these immortal figures live on a different cognitive plane than the rest of us – anointed by God! – producing incredible work from morning to night, day after day.
In reality, people like Leonardo who's thumbprint is forever imprinted on human history, faced the same emotional struggles we all face each and every day. The creative process is a tough master and it's important to remember that when you hit a rough patch. Time and time again I am reminded that talent means little and real results are born from curiosity and perseverance – as clichè as it may sound.