What happens when you put yourself out there – and your ‘baby’ (non-fiction book idea, fiction manuscript, idea for a tv series or screenplay, whatever it is) – and not only does your pitch fail, but you get the distinct impression you should really crawl back in your hole and stay there? It happened to me this week – and, not surprisingly for a sensitive creative type (read neurotic!), it really knocked me around.
All the crappy things in your head come up – things about self-worth, past failures (somehow your successes diminish at a rapid rate) and whether you should give up now, because rejection really hurts (ouch!).
So, after a quiet meltdown, I realised some ‘deconstruction’ was needed! I’d written a blog recently: The Upside of Failure, so I decided to take my own advice. And I know my writerly readers out there will relate to this, because we have to risk exposure and rejection in order to reach for that elusive publication dream. Here’s the lessons I took out of my failure:
- Hold things lightly. Don’t wrap up your entire self worth with the outcome. Because it may just be that you don’t appeal to that person’s area of interest or taste.
- Take risks – but take the risks that involve reaching for your dream, not the risks that are about things you don’t care enough about, don’t really want to do, and aren’t worth wasting your precious energy on (like thinking you need to go for a particular job to be seen as successful, even if you know you’d absolutely hate it!)
- Before you give up – work out whether you’re just going through a dip (so it’s worth sticking at it) or whether you’re actually on the wrong track and headed for a dead end (Seth Godin’s The Dip is a must read…)
- Work on the things you can change, but hang onto the things that are essential to who you are (aka authentically you). Don’t change you to fit anyone’s mould or idea of success.
- Take lessons from failures, then let them go (the failures, not the lessons)
- Last but not least: stop doing what what you do (paint, write, create) just to get a result (like publication or money). Create from the heart. Do it because you love to do it and it’s vital to your wellbeing. Love the process, and you are already a success… the money and recognition will be a (nice) bonus.
And remember, some people are just plain rude. Their ignorance is a reflection on them, not you. If all else fails, crank up a Alanis Morrissette’s I see right through you and sing your heart out. You’re not the first one to feel these things, and you won’t be the last. It’s what you do with how you feel that matters.
So power up your dreams and go for it… I know I am.
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...looking for luck
No matter how many disappointments I have in life, I’m still not that great at dealing with them.
I go through my day afterwards, looking a bit vague as I have those ‘what if’ conversations in my head!
You know all about that head-chat, I’m sure! You go ’round and ’round, thinking about the things you could’ve done differently, the cool or smart things you could have said, the dumb things you actually did say…
Thank goodness for all those fabulous, uplifting quotes, truisms and other isms (optimism springs to mind). Most involve picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and moving on. Like these:
- When one door closes, another door opens – or a window. Usually high up and small, and you’ve got to scramble through. But it’s there.
- When opportunity knocks at the front door, don’t be out the back looking for four leaf clovers. Or sitting on bees. Which also like clover.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. Except if you’re a stalker. Then you should stop.
- Failure is not in falling down, it’s in not getting up again. But if you’re 25 metres from the marathon’s finish line and you’ve collapsed with dehydration, don’t feel bad when they bring the stretcher. (PS. For me it would be 25 metres from the start line)
- If you’re going through hell, keep going. Also when walking on hot coals.
- Face the sun, so the shadows fall behind you. But don’t forget the sunscreen.
- Experience is the toughest teacher because she gives the test first, and then the lesson. Is it playtime yet?
- Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far they can really go. This is really annoying when you miss the exit on the freeway and end up at Gympie.
I’ll leave you with these wise words from Yoda: “Do or do not there is no try.”
My case I rest.
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Obstacles come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them we deal with, some of them we don’t. Some of them might be with us for life – so you’d better have a way of dealing with them, getting over them, or just simply living with them. Here are our Five for Friday suggestions:
- Step back. If you’ve got your face a few inches from the wall, it fills your vision and overwhelms you. You can’t see how high it is or how wide – and you sure can’t see any way over it. If you step back, you can put it in perspective. You might even find it’s not that wide and you can find a way around it!
- Try a different approach. Einstein said the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Let’s admit it – we all do that (especially with computers!!). So try a different approach – something you’ve never tried before. If one way’s not working and driving you nuts, what have you got to lose?
- Breathe. Come on, drop those shoulders and take a deep breath. Is this really as tough as you think? etc etc
- Be brave and trust yourself. Most of the time, when we’re faced with apparently insurmountable obstacles, fear kicks in and we lose confidence in our ability to cope. But trust yourself and be brave. People face all kinds of challenges and get through it – not because they’re way different from you, but because they don’t give in or give up. Go on, trust yourself. You can do it!
- Take a look around. It’s easy to become so obsessed with the obstacles in front of us that we fail to notice the life going on around us. Find something that gives you joy to give you a break from the obsessions. Is it your kids? your dog? your cat? your car? your garden? And if there is nothing that gives you joy, then you need to find something. Reconnect with family. Volunteer for something, even if you’re not that interested. Get out and connect with the world around you. When you have something or someone in your life to give you joy, the obstacles might still be there, but they won’t own you.
Is there a favourite way you ‘take back your life’ from the obstacles that try to own you? Let us know.
L & S.
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