Haunted by van Gogh

17 Oct

Vincent van Gogh is considered by most historians and art experts one of the greatest artists to have ever lived.  His paintings hang in the halls of the world’s great museums and are considered to be among the most valuable art works in history.  While rarely for sale, when one of van Gogh’s paintings does go to auction the winning bid is typically counted in the tens of millions of dollars.

During his lifetime Van Gogh painstakingly created more than 900 works of art, some taking months to complete… and yet, you may be surprised to learn that Van Gogh sold just “ONE” painting while he was alive…. and that was to his younger brother?

Yes, despite his obvious brilliance, van Gogh spent his entire life in near total anonymity. In fact, van Gogh considered himself an abject failure as an artist and on his death bed remarked to his brother that he hoped he could die with more dignity than that in which he had lived.

Hearing this story had a profound effect on me. It made me question myself and my dedication to my profession of coaching.  It made me understand the sometimes brutal price one must pay for greatness.

It spoke directly to one of my own deepest personal fears; never realizing my potential and dying having questioned the way I spent my life. The story also serves to remind me that greatness often requires an unyielding dedication to a personal faith in one’s own abilities and calling. The story reminded me that solitude and loneliness often walk hand-in-hand with greatness and that an almost obsessive view of the world and a monocular focus on your work is sometimes necessary to achieve great things.

Yet, above all of this, the one thing that most impacted me about the story was van Gogh’s willingness to persevere despite no apparent positive feedback or reward for his efforts.  Day-after-day, month-after- month, year-after-year he went to work never relenting or giving up. He died never knowing his own greatness.

I am haunted by van Gogh.


Most respectfully,

Coach Bruce


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