Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Gift of Failure

So one of my personal heroes was in my town yesterday to give Master Classes and a couple workshops. Two of my students got to play, which was awesome! They played fabulous, and we all had a blast. The teacher was AMAZING.

What surprised me was that there was a moment when I was talking to this woman alone, and she said something that made she realize she was human, too. (Of course.)

Even more, and perhaps I just read my own feelings into it, but it made me realize that even she worries about failure, too. In fact, I thought I saw (I probably imagined it) in her face, for a moment, the same feeling I feel, quite often.

It's that deep sense of failure, that horrible feeling of looking at your shortcomings and picking up their heavy burden.

This is probably going to come across weird, but there seems to be a few people out there that think I'm a pretty good teacher. Me? I stare at my failures every day, and it hurts. I mean, it is overwhelming.

For me, it seems part of the journey to becoming better at anything means looking at my failures.

Imagine if I thought I was perfect. How would I improve?

So in that sense, we need to look at our failures, like Atreyu when forced to go through the Magic Mirror Gate. It's part of the process.

Knowing our little failures does not mean we need to declare ourselves a failure. Looking at our failures does not need to be as torturous as we often make it out to be. I'm trying to look at my failures as hope. First, it's encouraging to know that I know enough to recognize my failures. And second, the failures are a gift, a path showing me how I can improve.

My new motto is: failures are my friends.

And little failures don't mean we aren't good at what we do, either.

I've noticed that in many artist-types, that sense of failure is deep and strong. I also notice that across the board, not just writers, a whole lot of artists have a deep compassion and love for humanity.

I got all that from one remark and one expression. Who knows if she was mentally looking into that abyss at that moment or if I was just imagining it.

Even though I've thought this before, it struck me again, yesterday.

Sometimes the greatest gift we can give each other is our humanity, to show each other our weaknesses and share our vulnerabilities.

Isn't that something? Our imperfections and insecurities can be a gift to others!


7 bonus scribbles:

Liz Wolfe 4/26/2008 08:43:00 PM  

I imagine anyone who works creatively is constantly plagued by doubt. I hammered out a could thousand words last night after writing kitchen cart copy all day. When I finished, I was sure they were all crap. If I look right now, it might be crap, it might not. Somehow, you just have to get past the doubts and insecurities. Maybe those are the very things that fuel our creativity?

Ashley Ladd 4/26/2008 10:06:00 PM  

We can learn much from failure as long as we don't give up. That said, I often have doubts about my writing, too.

spyscribbler 4/26/2008 10:07:00 PM  

I think you're right, Liz. They definitely show us a pathway to improvement!

spyscribbler 4/26/2008 10:07:00 PM  

Welcome, Ashley! So true. Never give up. I like that!

Edie 4/26/2008 11:59:00 PM  

I have doubts all the time. My doubts make me work harder, to try to be better.

I have successful writer friends who admit their doubts. It always makes me feel better too.

spyscribbler 4/27/2008 12:40:00 PM  

Isn't that great, Edie? It makes me feel so much better. Such a nice gift.

Barrie 4/28/2008 05:25:00 PM  

Failures are my friends. I think if I can look at it the way you described it....well, my foibles could be a positive thing. Oh yeah, and the writing thing...scary!