Monday, August 09, 2010

Fabulous Failure

When is the last time you were grateful to fail?  Seriously, have you ever totally messed things up and said to yourself, “wonderful!”?  Well, if you’re like most of us, you probably prefer to think of yourself as a complete idiot in such situations.  Odds are--if your mistake was big enough--you’ll avoid trying to do whatever it was you were doing, ever again.  But not trying again is truly the greatest, and perhaps only, mistake you will ever make.

I just read a fabulous quote by Madeline L’Engle, one of my favorite authors.  Keep in mind, Madeline’s book, A Wrinkle in Time, was rejected 29 times by pretty much every major publisher for over two-and-a-half years.  She said:
Human beings are the only creatures who are allowed to fail.  If an ant fails, it’s dead.  But we are allowed to learn from our mistakes and from our failures.  And that’s how I learn, by falling flat on my face and picking myself up and starting all over again.  If I’m not free to fail, I will never start another book.  I’ll never start a new thing.
Here are a few more quotes you should take to heart:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal.  It's the courage to continue that counts.”  -Winston Churchill

“I haven't failed. I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.”  -Thomas Edison

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” –Henry Ford

“Failure is merely feedback that there is something blocking the path of the emergence and expansion of the greatest version of yourself.” –Mother Teresa

I believe one of the most important traits a creative person can acquire is the ability to take risks.  You must be willing to risk failure in order to succeed.

Don’t be afraid to try.  Don’t be afraid to “say something.”  As stated by Mother Teresa, you are in the process of discovering “the greatest version of yourself.”  Allow yourself the ups and downs of that search.  And allow the same for others.

4 comments:

Jaleta Clegg said...

Great advice, Kevin. I need to tattoo this on my forehead, "Failure is not final or fatal. Rejection is not personal." And then I need to send out those rejected manuscripts yet again.

Thanks for posting!

Jeffrey V. Brimley said...

Failure is tough though, especially when tens of thousands of dollars are concerned. I'm represented by a gallery. They spent a large pile of money promoting me and getting ready for a solo show for me. I spent over a year painting full time for this show. The show came, the collects arrived and nothing. Well nothing good anyway, one lady started screaming at one of my paintings saying it was sacrilegious. She was still screaming as she was escorted out of the show.

So the question is now what? Do I continue painting that style of art or do I put all my energies into my first love of art, Fantasy? These are the tough decision of the foggy world of art marketing and selling. So therefore I found your post today most helpful.

thanks.

Kevin said...

Thanks Jaleta and Jeff for your comments. I had a few additional thoughts as I read them. In particular, I would like to take a look at what makes creative work successful. Who makes that determination? Is it the artist, the "middle-man", or the audience . . . or all of the above? I would like to bring this up in my next post. I think the way we judge success greatly affects our willingness to take risks, and not to beat ourselves up when we experience failure.

Julie Wright said...

This is an awesome post. I am printing it and sticking it on my wall. Madelaine L'engle rocks