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Failure. Why are we so afraid of this word? It is a necessary step to all great successes and yet so many of us are stunted when faced with failure that it ends so many projects, ambitions, dreams, and more.

I should know, I have been the victim of failure more often than I can count but I choose to pull myself up by the bootstraps and keep on going. Why?

Well in order to understand why many successful people choose to keep going despite numerous rejections and failures is to understand failure itself.

Failure Hurts!

To begin, no one likes to fail. It is human nature to want affirmation from our fellow man and to know we lived our lives so that we are remembered in some way. We all work so hard on something sometimes for years but some of us feel like we aren’t seeing any gain. For artists this can be debilitating because they want to enter into a competitive industry and don’t understand why they don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Writers work years on a novel that they consider to be their great work but yet they receive multiple rejection letters or their book doesn’t sell as well as they thought. This leads to a loss in confidence in our abilities and we begin to feel shaken. We see ideas that are “simpler” than ours gaining the attention of thousands of online fans. May seem like a downer but FRET NOT there IS HOPE! You are just at a crossroads; not the end of the road.

Things You May Not Realize…

You are not alone in your struggle! We all have starting points in any project or ambition. For example, Ed Catmull, the CEO of Pixar, in his book titled Creativity, Inc, states that “Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new”. I highly recommend this book. It is full of success and failure stories and what it takes to get to the end goal.

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The point is, everyone in any industry, has gone through some sort of failure. It takes failure to become great!

Still looking for that yellow brick road I was talking about? We’re not quite there yet. Remember this is a path, not a get there quick article. Something that is crucial in order to see failure as an ally is, at least from what I’ve learned after working in the Indie gaming industry, that not everything you work on is going to be or has to be your “magnum opus” or masterpiece. Let me explain, character designers do not complete a design in only one go. As a matter of fact, it takes hours and hours and many rejected designs to come to a beautifully finalized character that goes into a movie or game. What am I getting at? It is not necessary that everything you work on has to be finished and polished. A willingness to throw away ideas that just aren’t working is something that is hard to learn but in the end can be a relief. Do not feel that you need to marry your work!

In the beginning, there is only one critic: You!

Dan Blank, one of the contributing authors of one of the best books on writing I am currently reading, titled Author in Progress states that “Chances are this one book is not going to fulfill your dreams” and “your debut won’t be a best seller”. He was right. Too often we get caught up in “get there quick” schemes and think that our first work has to be our best work. Don’t fall for this! Remember why you started doing your passion in the first place!

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This leads me to the next and one of the most important points of accepting failure. At the beginning of the project, any project — the only one you should want to impress is you! 

What Is Your White Hot Passion?

Why did you decide to write a book? Paint? Blog? Cook? Whatever your passion in life is. What was the reason that you decided to pursue it with something Bill Hybels calls “a white hot passion”? Understanding can help alleviate some of the stress of having to “get there quick”.

Read Stories from Others in Your Field

Sometimes reading stories about how others have struggled to reach their success can help. It reveals that we aren’t alone in struggles. Some of the books I recommend are:

  • Author In Progress : more than 50 essays from Best Selling Novelists
  • Creativity, Inc: Written by Ed Catmull, CEO of Pixar
  • The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to Write, Work, & Thrive on Your Own Terms:  Written by Zachary Petit

These are just to name a few and just because these are on writing and art; they still have some valuable information to help you through your journey.

The Moral to the Story Is….

Failure is “not a necessary evil” is a great way to look at failure. If you keep with it and willing to understand that you are going to fail but in the end and after all of the blood, sweat and tears of trying again and again, you will hold a brand new project that you can be proud of.

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