For many of us, “failure” is a big scary word that, especially as creators and entrepreneurs, is something we try to avoid at all costs — for our self-worth, for our dreams, for our livelihoods. What if we looked at failure differently, though? What if we could make friends with failure and use it to propel ourselves and our pursuits forward? What if we, instead, saw failure as a positive thing, an opportunity to learn and grow? Continue reading for some insights on my journey of overcoming my fear of failure as well as some advice from the wonderful author, Elizabeth Gilbert.
Personally, I feel that I learn just as much from my failures as I do my successes. From a photography perspective – I used to beat myself up for not getting the image just right in camera the first time. I used to put loads of pressure on myself. Over time, I grew to understand and give myself room which has helped me to be more creative and relaxed. Now I understand that the image is half done when I capture it – the second half is in the editing process. This can include cropping differently, maneuvering light, etc. I have also stopped measuring myself by how many shots I took to get the perfect image. I only congratulate myself on getting the shot. Period. End of story. We create these internal measures of success or failure that mean nothing to anyone but ourselves. By learning to shift the way I gauge success, I’ve removed the unnecessary worry of failure.
The IdentityRVA portraits were totally out of my comfort zone. For a living, I take “posed” images. These image for this passion project were not intended to be posed, however, but instead taken more organically. I did my research, studied and read about famous fashion photographer Richard Avedon‘s work. Inspired by his genius, I followed my intuition and took the shots. I moved on and let the world see my work. Whether something is a success or a failure comes down to a paradigm shift in how you chose to see your world and I’m learning to see my experiences and work in this way.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the famous “Eat, Pray, Love,” gave an excellent TED talk, sharing about a time when she was inundated with rejection letters and just an “unpublished diner waitress.” She shares how then, after her grand success with her best-selling book that chronicled her adventures across the globe, she struggled to push ahead, fearing how she would not be able to live up to her former successes. She found herself identifying with the Elizabeth of twenty years prior who received rejection letter after rejection letter, despite being so far away from that person by this point, swimming in accolades and fame. When you love something as much as she loved creativity and writing, though, you find a way to prevail, despite the failures along the way.
…Because I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing, which is to say that I loved writing more than I loved my own ego, which is ultimately to say that I loved writing more than I loved myself. And that’s how I pushed through it.Elizabeth Gilbert
We’ve all been there. No matter the details, we’ve all come across failure in one form or another and had to choose whether we would be defined by it and shy away from progress, or use it to progress. Gilbert’s advice centers around remembering where our home is — that our home is in what we love more than ourselves, and it is there that we find reprieve from whatever failures we may have encountered.
I will always be safe from the random hurricanes of outcome as long as I never forget where I rightfully live.Elizabeth Gilbert
What do you think? Do you find yourself fleeing from failure? Or do you believe that it acts as an accessory to success? I would love to hear your tales.