There’s a lovely exchange of dialogue between an elven daughter, Ivo, and her wise dryad father in a delightful video game called Book of Unwritten Tales 2.
It goes like this:
Ivo: I… I need to tell you something, Father. But… I’m not sure how.
Pa: You shouldn’t worry too much. It’s not good for the baby.
Ivo: You know?!
Pa: Has a zebra got stripes?
Ivo: How can it have happened? Why?
Pa: I don’t know. Is that important?
Ivo: It is! I want to know what’s happened to me!
Pa: Then look for the answers, my little bud.
Ivo: How can you be so calm about it?!
Pa: Because I know that everything will be fine in the end.
Ivo: And if it isn’t fine?
Pa: Then it is not the end.
Frustration often hits in bouts of creativity, whether it’s about a project, a relationship, or our lives in general.
How do we make it through?
One issue is that we may not even realize that we are being creative. Instead, we can readily be derailed by some feeling of failure, not having met a vision we had in mind.
But once we realize we are in the creative act, that frustration transforms and we find that failure is, in fact, good practice.
Failure as good practice.
Last week, I wrote about the cancelation of the third cohort of Waves of Focus. The storm of emotion leading to doing so was intense.
I asked for your feedback, and the return of support has been nothing short of amazing. Nearly 50 of you wrote back with well-thought-through ideas and kind words.
I just want to say thank you so much.
And the door is not closed, so if you still want to add your thoughts, please go ahead and hit reply.
For the moment, I am playing with several ideas, enjoying a calm after the storm.
And I remind myself that failure is good practice.
I use the word “failure” but only because it is how one might typically view a vision that doesn’t come to pass. But therein lies the inherent trouble with the word “failure”.
That sensation is only a first step.
Any creative act is, by definition, one in which we don’t know what the thing will look like in the end.
Instead, we discover what we are making in the act of its creation.
There’s even a parallel in our relationships. With another person, we can regularly have breakdowns. There is a break in empathy. One party loses an understanding of the other.
But by working to return, to find a genuine re-attunement that works for both parties, one that often involves finding a new understanding, we create a new relationship.
If we hold onto a vision too tightly, it grows brittle and shatters. It is here that we might feel “failure”.
The work is to realize the feeling of failure as a step of creativity. We can then deliberately engage the fuzzy confusion, the unclear vision, and take some next step forward.
In this way, failure is not defeat. It is merely a mark on the trail.
Whenever you’re ready, here are 5 ways I can help you:
- Find calm focus one step at a time here (2,200+ students)
- Master OmniFocus, the power tool for task management here (15,000+ copies sold)
- Organize your digital life and have your ideas and files at your fingertips here (2,400+ copies sold)
- Go beyond productivity to find mastery and meaningful work here (2,500+ copies sold)
- Guide the power of a wandering mind here (50+ live students)
PS Thank you everyone again for your wonderful support, as I hope to find and form a new connection…