Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Courage To Live A Life Of Failure!

Yesterday several sections of the store needed significant rearranging, so I set about in my usual fashion to do so.  First, I wandered seemingly aimlessly about the store, and pick items from all the different area's that I feel would match my color scheme and the general feel I wanted for the new area I was going to decorate.  I piled them all on top of the area I was about to work on.  Then I started arranging them.  Nope, that didn't work... take off that stool, go find another doily, this one was too small.  I need something to raise up that picture.  I thought blue would be a nice touch to add in with the red but it looks awful.  Hmm.. I wandered around the store looking a bit more.   Found a couple green things, not sure if they would look better or worse though.  I toted them over to the table I was arranging and plopped them down.  Perfect!  Now for the chalk boards.  I had them all up and where they should be... I thought... but it was all wrong.  The one hung down too low, and the other one just overwhelmed the table and kept getting in the way.  So all of them came down and I moved them all around until they were balanced just like I wanted them!
My little sister was at the store with me watching me running around like a crazy woman.  Bringing this thing to set out... oh dear no... put it back.  Try something else.  She just kept giggling over the half an hour I was running back and forth "No wonder you wear yourself out all the time, you run around like a nut!" she laughed!  I chuckled and responded "And to think I used to do the whole store like this every other week!"  Then I shared with her that I believe the reason people don't think they are "good at decorating" is because they are afraid to fail.  They are afraid to move 20 things to a corner and then have it not work.  Or they are afraid to buy things and have to return them, but through all the hunting finally find the perfect thing that makes the room pop!  Failure is part of the process!  Getting right back up and trying again RIGHT AWAY when you "fail" is the key.  You can't wait two months to re-decorate that room that you miserably failed on.  If you wait too long to try again your brain settles into thinking "well, I really am no good at decorating, but at least I tried".  And this type of thinking is destructive to the creative juices!  You need succeses to fuel your confidence, and creativity, even if that means your living room has to look like a war zone for a while and success comes only after 14 failed attempts!  Now do I have much more of an eye for decorating now than I did 6 years ago before I had a store?  Absolutely!  But it's not because of my "natural" ability.  It is hard earned ability from arranging thousands of displays for art walks, craft sales, homes, and of course in the store.

And that is why I am writing this today, to encourage you to fail.  In crafts, in fashion, in sewing, in health, in home decor.  FAIL!  If you never fail it means you aren't trying.  And if you only fail once in a great while it means you are not learning or growing, but doing the same old things that you feel safe and comfortable with.  Don't be afraid to be wrong!  It takes lots of failure to get to where you want to be.  If you never try new hair cuts you will never find that wonderful look that frames your face, and is easy to care for!  If you never try painting, you'll never know how things work and feel and you can never get better and be able to relax and paint the pictures you've always dreamed of doing!  I think in our world we have so much internet exposure that the "comparison bug" has bitten all of us, which might be fine if what we were comparing ourselves to was the actual truth.  But it is not.  We see the gorgeous pictures of homes, crafts, or styles people post on pinterest or other sites and we somehow believe that they just breathed out this beauty as easy as an eyelash floating on the wind.  We know they probably had to work at it some, but once we start the project ourselves and struggle and have frustrations we decide we must be "doing something wrong" or  conclude that is is just not what we are "cut out to do."  I think more tutorials should include frustration, and mistakes as actual steps!  Because no true artist gets through their projects without them, so why would it be different for someone following in their footsteps!  But the glossy photo's and "easy" steps rarely communicate the mistakes that even very experienced people make every day.

I get lots of comments down at the store about how "talented" people think I am or how they feel they just "don't have it" whatever "it" means.  Now I'm not saying that some people don't just have natural talent, but most people we look up to or admire worked very hard and are not just simply "talented.'  These kind of statements really bother me, I know people mean well, and I take it as a great compliment, but they bother me because not only am I NOT really that "talented," and these statements and philosophies are destructive to the learning process!
I get comments like "You just have such a natural gift for arranging everything in the store!"  or "is there anything you aren't JUST good at?"  or "Some people just get all the talent!" or "You do _______ TOO?  Is there anything you can't do?"  In fact yes there are many things I "can't" do, but more times than not I keep trying until I can!  Most things I do now I was quite alarmingly NOT good at at some point.  But all most people think about is what they see now, not all the back story that went into making those things I seem to do with effortless ease possible.
And while I know these comments are said by well meaning people, they are based in a falsehood that can discourage people from growing and learning in their businesses, crafts, and hobbies.  And honestly these comments take away credit an artist deserves, rather than complimenting the person as they are intending to do.  Personally, I have worked very hard to get where I am today.  I have owned and operated my own business since I was 14 and have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to making it successful.  I have learned, taken classes, courses, read tons of books and made HUGE mistakes, and learned from them.  But when all the years of hard work and failures is just chalked up to be "talent" by others, it  takes away from all that has gone into me having the abilities that I do today.  And again, these ideas perpetuate  the thought that people are just "lucky" and some have it and some don't, which I believe to be very false.  If instead when we wished to complement someone we tried to use phrases like "Oh my goodness this is beautiful!" or "I love the technique she used on that!" or "look at all the work that went into that lovely piece!" I think it would help to begin to change the atitude of "luck" and lack of responsibility for those who just don't think they have the "natural" talent.  I think we should praise each other and compliment each other's art and other projects, but do it in a way that actually does so, not in a way that passes their success off as just being a fluke of nature they were born with, not something they have worked hard and earned.
The truth is I guarantee you that I make more mistakes and have more horrible outcomes on so many things in one week, that it would probably take most people a year of living to make that many mistakes!  I am constantly trying new things which often end in disaster!  But this does not bother or upset me too much, because it really is not a disaster at all!  When I try something, and it looks awful, or turns out bad, I file it away in my brain for next time.  And after thousands of failures logged away in my brain, I am able to avoid many mistakes now, that could make it look like I'm just "talented."
Very few even truly genius artists start out amazing.  They usually put hundreds of hours into their art and are far more dedicated to it than many people are to their own families!  No wonder they are successful and amazing!  They are constantly learning, growing, trying, and yes, failing.

One time, about 15 years ago, I was working on trying to invent a solid bath oil because I was tired of how messy natural bath oils were.  The containers always seemed to leak, and taking them on any sort of a trip was sure to end in disaster.  I wanted something that would look like a "bath fizzy" type of a product, hard and round, but that contained oil.  I wanted the product to fizz when you put it in bath water so the oils would disburse, not just hang around in a lump like bath oil beads did.  In addition I wanted it not to have any messy oiliness to touch, but to be totally hard and dry until you put in into the bath water.  Needless to say this proved to be a rather daunting task.  I lost count of how many failed batches of product I made.  Every day, right back at it, sometimes till wee hours of the morning.   There HAD to be away to make this work!  Then one day, I was reading something about different ingredients used to bake with, why you use them and what they actually do to your pastries.  Now the thing that must be noted here is: I was a MISERABLE baker.  It was well known that although people loved my cooking, when it came to baking all you had to do to guarantee an abismal failure was let me just TOUCH something that was baking related.  This sad little fact is why I was researching baking at the time.   I was miserably failing and despite my many attempts, even the simplest muffins would always fall.  But that day, reading about how certain ingredients helped solidify and set baked goods, and why they worked this way, it suddenly hit me!  And just like that, something I learned from researching baking which I was a huge failure at, transported perfectly into my world of chemistry and body products, and Vwala!  The all natural solid bath oils were an absolute success and people loved them!  I can't express how many times something similar has happened to me.  One learning experience spills over into another.  You just have to keep at it and open yourself up to failures, and the wonderful things they can teach you even when you least expect to learn from them.

So I'm here to say, you don't need to be lucky, or talented, or "a natural"!  You need to be able to fail, to learn and grown, and to not beat yourself up or put yourself down because of your failure, but realize instead that failure itself is the best way to learn!  So go out and fail my friends!  Purposely put yourself in situations that you are unsure about, then just try something!  Anything!  The outcome is not what makes learning valuable or worthless, it is the experience, the information your brain can hold on to for next time, even if "next time" isn't even a similar situation!  Keep learning!  Keep trying!  Keep growing!  Keep Failing!  Failure is the stuff beauty is made of.

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