For productive and successful creatives, their drive outweighs their doubts. They still have doubts—as many or more than the next person. But inner necessity gains the upper hand over inner self-pestering, at least on many days. What exactly is this drive? A passion for excellence? Pure ambition? A burning need for self-expression? Something akin to love? Some greediness, some hunger? Whatever it is—and it may be different artist to artist—it is the defining feature of the creative who creates a lot. That’s the theme of today’s post, from creativity coach and performance coach Nick Lazarus.

Nick explains:

I would like to share with you four powerful principles of mental toughness used by creatives at the top of their game that will lead you towards outrageous creativity.

Principle #1 – Be Driven by a Pursuit of Excellence

Ask yourself, “Do I expect excellence and have a burning desire to achieve it in my life as a creative? Do I act like the person that I want to be? Is it my burning desire to set myself apart in the work that I create?”

The clearer you see what you desire, the easier it will be to go for it. Deep down, in your heart of hearts, what do you want? Deciding what is most important and then committing to a decision to not let anything stand in your way is the beginning step to developing mental toughness. “That’s good enough” won’t do if you desire to be successful.

Principle #2 – Commit to a Focused Plan of Action … without Tolerations

Ask yourself, “Am I committed to a focused plan of action? Are my activities and energy (practice, performance, creative projects) laser-focused on the promotion of goals that express my desire for excellence?”

One of the first things I ask creatives in my coaching practice is, “What in your world are you tolerating?” What do you tolerate that keeps you from achieving your dreams and goals? Who do you put up with in your life that keeps you from experiencing happiness or self-respect?  What are the ‘anchors’ that weigh you down and keep you from soaring to new heights in your creative life?”

Take charge of your life today by expressing an attitude and belief that says, “I no longer tolerate anything that holds me back.”

Principle # 3 – Develop and Maintain Self-Confidence

Do you believe in yourself and your potential as a creative and communicate this confidence to others?

Monitor your self-talk: How do you see yourself? What do you say to yourself under pressure? Is your self-talk positive or negative? Listen for negative, self-defeating messages.

Practice ‘thought-stopping’: When you hear an internal negative message, tell yourself “STOP” – do anything to get your mind out of negative anticipation. Create new, positive neural pathways and turn your self-talk from negative to positive.

Rewrite your internal dialogue: “They aren’t going to like my work” vs. “I’m ready to go for it. “I have to be perfect” vs. “I intend on doing my best.” “I’m not sure I can do this” vs. “I know I can do this.”

Principle # 4 – Practice Perseverance

The difference between a successful creative and others is not a lack of knowledge or talent, but, rather, a lack of will. Do you persevere when times get tough? Perseverance is committing to your goals, consistently ‘Doing’ instead of ‘Wishing and Hoping’ and not waiting for the ‘Perfect’ time (or opportunity). 

Take charge of your creative life. Focus on action, take risks, be willing to assert yourself, stop blaming events or persons if things don’t go the way you desire. Persevere and take responsibility for yourself.

The good news is that your ability to create at or near your personal best, regardless of the circumstances in your life, is under your control.


You can visit Dr. Nick Lazaris at or contact him at [email protected].

You can visit Eric Maisel at