Failure is a great and difficult teacher, one that comes unwelcomed bearing gifts and medicine that is hard to swallow. However this medicine has a powerful alchemical effect in that it transforms the experience into something new. Loss and failure create the space for something new to blossom that is fertilized by the seeds of wisdom gained so that there can be a rebirth. The new thing that is created from that death will be much richer than what came before it. It will contain fragments of the old, but also have new elements that allow for something better to grow.
Someone once told me that rejection is God’s protection. I would say that failure is also God’s protection in that a door shuts because it’s not the right door, and it shuts so the right door can open.
How do we know what that right door is? I've heard many wise souls say that our problem is often that we don't think big enough. But does that mean we can also overshoot the mark and set the bar too high? When do we do enough to feel as though we're successful? Isn't there a always a risk that we can get caught up in the future-focused vision of churning out yet another project or reaching another milestone? What happens when the creative circle spins out of control, demanding constant attention and productivity?
As my first e-book hits the marketplace, I've been looking the idea of success, but more the idea of failure. In terms of writing the book to begin with and doing all the steps to finish it and get it ready for sale, I've achieved one level of success. But what happens after that? If the book isn't a bestseller does that mean then that it's a failure? That I'm a failure? Does it mean I shouldn't have even taken the step to get it out there?
Measuring success and/or failure is a slippery slope because it is typically not measure by the internal joy we experienced when in the process of creating it (my absolute favorite part), but instead by the external markers of number of sales, good reviews and demands for more. The internal validation is delicious and perfect all on it's own. However, add to that the dessert of knowing that someone enjoyed the experience of our creative work heightens our joy. But that external validation can also crush us if we rely too much on it and it if isn't favorable.
Therein lies the trouble of sharing our work. In our own private world of creating, it is pure and innocent....it's the romance. When we step out of that world into the world of others, we can become victims of our own success. Our work leaves us wide open to the assault of criticism or indifference.