Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh: Pilgrim, Painter, Pioneer, Pathfinder

Determination, Resilience, Grit and Luck, in unlikely Partnerships

Have you ever wanted to 'try it and see what happens'? Have you got the resilience and grit to stick with it?

Many people don’t realise that Van Gogh wasn’t born brilliant. Van Gogh was considered a mediocre artist when he started out, but that he taught himself to paint by just doing it day after day after day. And despite failing for most of his life, he never stopped creating art.

His advice was: if you do nothing, you are nothing. You must keep working, come what may. And, even when the final goal is not clear, trust that it will emerge slowly but surely, much as the rough drawing turns into a sketch, and the sketch into a painting through the serious work done on it, through the elaboration of the original vague idea and the consolidation of your fleeting and passing thoughts on it as you work.

When performance is a matter of pioneering and pathfinding

For years, Van Gogh had failed at any and all of his endeavours – until he left the studio, tins of paint in hand, and painted nature in ways that broke the patterns of what had been done before. Van Gogh created iconic pieces of beauty and wonder that, perhaps, make him one of the most appreciated artists of all time.

We see in Van Gogh’s life story, a high performer playing out his purpose, yet facing circumstances where there is little support to help him overcome his struggles. There is no doubt that obstacles, challenges and failure bring with them the opportunity for thinking in new ways. When our patterns are broken, we’re prepared to risk more. In Van Gogh’s story of struggles, resilience, grit and creativity, we can explore how he pivoted when the environment around him changed, the power of partnership and ‘Who Luck’, and we reflect on the Tipping Point principles that took his brand from nothing to iconic.

“Many high performers would rather do the wrong thing well than do the right thing poorly. And when they do find themselves in over their head, they’re often unwilling to admit it, even to themselves, and refuse to ask for the help they need.”
Managing Yourself: The Paradox of Excellence
by Thomas J. DeLong and Sara DeLong

Ignite team and leadership conversations

  • How are we acknowledging and facing struggles, failure, challenges?
  • How are we pivoting in the face of our challenges?
  • How are we leveraging the power of Partnership – ‘Who Luck’?
  • To what extent are we courageously living true to our purpose?
  • How are we collaborating, networking and opening up to the people around us?

Format and Approach

Engage your teams in a multimedia, facilitator-led conversation on Zoom, supported with interactive moderated conversations in breakout rooms (hosted by our team of Pod Coaches).


This case study is available in a 90-minute or 180-minute online (Zoom) format.

How does it work?

  • Contact us to let us know that you want LRMG to share this case study with your team
  • We will work with you to design or customise key conversation and reflection questions
  • Participants will get a link to a pre-case study primer to complete prior to the presentation and conversation
  • Your team will receive our Pivot for Potential! Toolkit as a take-away to ignite further learning and reflection

“In spite of everything I shall rise again and take up my pencil and draw and draw."
Vincent van Gogh

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