In a series on Good Ideas, Our Flirtations with Them, and Our Commitments to Them.
Well Happy Halloween to you! Today, our discussion is a bit dark and rather scary. I want to talk about failure, because it has a very important place in a series on Good Ideas. The creative life simply does not progress without failure.
I know this from experience! When I was an art student, I took my first pottery class. How exciting! How wonderful to put hands in clay, and mold it on the spinning wheel into a sleek, organic, functional vessel! I could totally rock my neuvo-hippie chick thing, sell some pottery at a festival or two, and have lots of Christmas gifts on hand for everyone!
Except that when I sat down at the wheel and hit the pedal, goopy wet clay spat in vicious circles and hit me in the face, covered the wall, and coated the other zen-clay students. I was humiliated and so disappointed.
After that, the only time I’d return to the studio was late, late at night when few other students were working. I guess my hope was to work out all the kinks and appear one day in my day class as if nothing had happened, and as if I had all my “slip” together. I progressed very slowly, as there were no teachers and not many experienced students in the lab at that time of night!
That was a long time ago, and I’ve learned some very valuable lessons since – primarily about grace and the freedom to be a fool and to fail. Here’s what I want to share today: Not failing (and not failing publicly) will prevent you from succeeding.
- Failing publicly means you tried to add value in a way that would impact other people.
- Failing again means you tried again.
- Making a variety of mistakes means that you are experimenting with a variety of “what if’s” and “maybe’s” and “hopefully’s”
- Failing publicly means that you are in a position to be noticed (oh no!) and get some help, tweaking, direction…
- If you’ve ever felt paralyzed by creative failure, what got you going again?
- What kinds of things have you learned from failure?
- Do you put yourself in positions where you can fail publicly? If not, what can you do to be more vulnerable?
- What advice would you give a friend who is stuck in failure?