“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” —Benjamin Franklin

What art are you creating?

What business are you running?

What relationship are you building?

How are you trying to be useful?

Micheal Jackson left a mark for musicians to follow.

Kobe Bryant left a mark for basketballers to follow.

Steve Jobs left a mark for innovators and Entrepreneurs to follow.

Ernest Hemmingway left a mark for writers to follow.

Who are you leaving your mark to?

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” __ Chuck Palahniuk

As a creative, it’s not only important you establish yourself in your field but also leave a mark with your work as a legacy when you are gone.

Gone but not forgotten is how you become what Ryan Holiday calls perennial seller. It’s how your work continues to sell millions of records of unit when you are gone. Because in the end, not only do people want to see your work but to also engage with the mastery that comes with your work.

Whitney Houston is gone but her music can’t be forgotten. Scott Fitzgerald is gone but his writings can’t be forgotten.

Understand that lasting impact is not possible without impacting lives.

To leave a mark with your work here’s is what you need.

1. Hard work and smart work go together. Learn to do both.

“Work hard, and you will earn good rewards. Work smart, and you will earn great rewards. Work hard and work smart, and you will earn extraordinary rewards.” — Matshona Dhliwayo

Talent can be of little help in life. It can even help you kick start your career. In the end, it’s working smart with hard work that will help you leave a mark when you’re gone.

Nothing in life comes easy. To accomplish something, we must work hard. Don’t complain about not getting anything if you don’t expend the effort necessary to get it. Hard work is always the baseline of great achievements. Nothing spectacular comes without it. Getting organised is hard work. Setting goals, making plans to achieve them, and staying on track is hard work. And that’s because there are no shortcuts to lasting success, only smart cuts.

The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to their crafts. Because greatness isn’t handed to anyone; it requires a lot of hard work.

There’s only one way to the top: Hard Work

To leave a mark with your work, you need to avoid working hard for the wrong things. And the best way to do that is by asking yourself the question.

What shit sandwich can you eat?

The question is “Are you passionate enough that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of what you are going to start?”

What do you have flair for?

What do you like doing?

what will you continue to do irrespective of the outcome?

For me, it’s writing and being an entrepreneur.

Once you have your answer to these questions, that’s what you should work hard for and must be able to endure the shit sandwich that comes along with it. Because hard work is challenging, painful and uncomfortable. But it’s the only way to the top. In the words of G. K. Nielson “Successful people are not gifted; they just work hard, then succeed on purpose.”

If you love writing. Work hard to write every day.

If you love painting. Work hard to paint every day.

If you love singing. Work hard to record a song daily.

When you work hard for things you love, as you do it over time, it doesn’t become hard work any more. Because over time, you would have fallen in love with your shit sandwich.

Those who have left their mark over time will tell you they don’t find their hard work difficult because they love what they work hard for. It’s difficult to work hard for what you don’t love doing or work hard for something that brings you no joy. In fact, a major key to success is to learn to enjoy challenging work and to enjoy working hard at it.

Once you can learn to enjoy working hard at what you love doing, things will fall in place for you in no time. Jonah Engler once said, “There are no short cuts to success — hard work is smart work.”

Hard work comes with discipline. Discipline comes with endurance. Endurance comes with perseverance. And Perseverance comes with being patient.

A paradox of life: The problem with patience and discipline is that it requires both of them to develop each of them.

Thomas Edison failed approximately 10,000 times while he was working on the light bulb and yet he never dreamed of giving up — this is the hard work and the determination that marks a true success.

Picasso was exceptionally prolific throughout his long lifetime. The total number of artworks he produced has been estimated at 50,000, comprising 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs.

And there are about 870 paintings by Vincent van Gogh existing today. His earliest date from 1881 and the latest from July 1890.

There’s no such thing as something for nothing. If it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting (and enduring) for __ Napoleon Hill.

What are you in it for

Hard work and being smart about your work is not what only help you leave a mark with your work. You need to know what you are doing your work for.

If you want to leave a mark when you are gone. You must do your work for only one thing.

2. Do it for mastery.

If you aren’t doing your work for mastery, you cant leave a mark.

The greats that we acknowledged their work today are all masters of their craft. Mastery is what makes Apple exceptional under Steve Jobs. Mastery is what makes Ernest Hemingway exceptional with his writing. Mastery did the work for Micheal Jackson and Kobe Bryant.

Mastery is a life-long pursuit and is not for the faint of heart. Michelangelo once quipped, “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”

When mastery is finally reached, an artist can be described as being unconsciously competent. A master artist no longer needs to spend so much time thinking about the process. Through spontaneity of action and naturalness, they may create without hindrance. In eastern painting and philosophy, this principle is called wu-Wei, which means “natural or effortless action” in Chinese. Mastery, therefore, means creative liberation. Artists can become empowered through gaining competency writes Charles Miano.

There is no end to anything we do which is why one must continuously strive for mastery.

Our life will end as an unfinished project.

Our work will end as an unfinished project.

Our skills will end as an unfinished project.

Our business will end as an unfinished project.

Our art will end as an unfinished project.

Our relationships will end as an unfinished project.

When we say someone has mastered their craft, art, or work. What we are alluding to is their ability to grasp, and then fine-tune the finer details that encompass the palette of their vocation to produce remarkable results says Eze Onukwube.

Steve Jobs died as an unfinished project both in his work and life. Micheal Jackson died as an unfinished project both in his work and life. Pablo Picasso died as an unfinished project both in his work and life. And yet, they are all masters in their respective field. Three masters who achieved it all and yet still died as an unfinished project tells you all that needs to be said.

There’s no end to anything. Only Mastery.

The road of mastery requires patience which is why money and success that truly last come not to those who focus on such things as goals. But rather those who focus on mastery and fulfilling their life’s task writes Robert Greene.

To get to the mastery phase, you must learn to apprentice and that involves learning these three things.

1. Deep Observation

This is the passive mode where you need to familiarize yourself with your environment by knowing the in and out of it. As you amass more information about the rules and power dynamics of your new environment, you can begin to analyze why they exist, and how they relate to larger trends in the field. You move from observation to analysis, honing your reasoning skills, but only after months of careful attention.

Knowing your environment first will help you navigating it and avoiding costly mistakes.

2. Skill Acquisition

This is the practise mode where you learn best through practice and repetition. Initially, this phase might be boring, but what it does is that it toughens you up mentally. People who do not practice and learn new skills never gain a proper sense of proportion or self-criticism.

We learn a foreign language by actually speaking it as much as possible, not by reading books and absorbing theories. The more we speak and practice, the more fluent we become. Once you take this far enough, you enter a cycle of accelerated returns in which the practice becomes easier and more interesting, leading to the ability to practice for longer hours, which increases your skill level, which in turn makes practice even more interesting.

Only when you learn to practice over time can you begin to get the result. In other words, concentrated practice over time cannot fail but produce results.

3. Experimentation

This is the active mode and it is the shortest part of the process, but a critical component nonetheless. This is where you combine all that you’ve learned in a creative way. This could mean taking on more responsibility, initiating a project of some sort, doing work that exposes you to the criticisms of peers or even the public. The point of this is to gauge your progress and whether there are still gaps in your knowledge. You are observing yourself in action and seeing how you respond to the judgments of others. This is the part where you learn to take criticism and use it constructively.

Robert Greene was right when he said the future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.

Your work is the single greatest means at your disposal for expressing your social intelligence. To do your work for mastery is to leave a mark when you are gone and that’s’ the only way to develop a thick skin.

Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach. —MARCUS AURELIUS

If you want to leave a mark with your work when you are gone, learn to work hard for the right thing and above all strive for mastery with your work and the world will remember you for your work.