Aside from envying badly, we are also at risk of admiring others in a way that prevents us from emulating them. Our respect can be so powerful that we are at risk of failing to see our heroes as people we might–in the best sense–steal from. A healthy relationship to one’s idols involves a sense that one might one day, after suitable respectful study, outgrow them, rather than merely pay lifelong, uncreative homage to them.
Although admiration and envy are universal experiences, they are played out in the careers of artists in ways that allow us to inspect their inner workings with particular clarity. In the biographies of artists we have a chance to observe that success has an uncommon amount to do with a capacity to use admiration and envy constructively.