I wrote the blog post below four years ago, after a particularly harrowing experience doing a pitch in a workshop. I didn’t realise how this affected me until this week, when I did some public speaking for the first time since then.
I wasn’t particularly nervous about getting up, just wanted to avoid putting myself out there at all costs. But it was for a close friend and colleague, so up I got and it was actually fun! Most importantly, the next day I realised I was free again. So don’t let yourself be bumped off your path. Or if you are, get back onto it, then put your hands in the air, Rocky-style, and say… I’m back!
What happens when you put yourself – and your ‘baby’ (non-fiction book idea, fiction manuscript, idea for a tv series or screenplay, whatever it is) – out there, 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 changeyou 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 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.
This was originally posted on the art of moi in October 2011