There are millions of tons of paint produced each year around the world. In 2015, India alone (a strong exporter of pigments and paint), produced about 4 million tons. But regardless whether they are Liquitex, Rembrandt, home made or even some generic ones from the local shop, it isn’t the pigment that makes a masterpiece, but the artist painting it.
The same goes for guitar strings and amplifiers, Stradivarius violins and original Air Jordans from 1984; while precision instruments in any field surely can make or breake an artists performance and ability to create, the notion that this is true for every level of expertise could not be more of a fallacy.
Imagine you decide to run in the next local marathon, but aren’t exactly the fittest; the fact that you would spent 200 € on new Nike Free Flyknit sneakers will do surprisingly less for your overall performance than actually going for a run everyday and building up your endurance two or three months prior to the marathon.
But Usain Bolt, when he was still in his top performing shape, could have actually benefited from the best available running shoe and the boosted traction, ergonomics and perfect fit such an expensive shoe would deliver. The point though, even if we’d like to believe it, not many of us are the Usain Bolts of our own profession. But that’s not the problem!
Most of us don’t even want to be the best (at least not as strongly and clearly as most of those who, in the end, actually succeed in doing so). Why then count on expensive materials, tools and gadgetry to give us that micro percentile of an advantage, when the biggest and greatest gains are always achieved by mere persistence, regular work ethics and the old discipline and reward routine.
I’m not proposing that everyone should stop buying paintbrushes and to start painting with their fingers, or to ditch all tools in order to save money. Tools are important — that’s why we now wear shoes, rather than walking barefoot in the winter — but we have to be careful when spending more than necessary on those tools.
While the cost difference between running barefoot or having shoes can be a as low as a few euros, the difference between “average” running shoes and “excellent” ones can be a few thousand or more! But while the first few euros immensely improve your ability to run at greater lengths, the last few thousand only do so by a fraction, and even then only for those, who know what to look for.