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How To Overcome Failure As An Artist

How To Overcome Failure As An Artist

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​What exactly is failure?  According to good old Mr. Google, failure means lack of success or the omission of expected or required action.  I don’t now about you, but after reading this definition, I actually don’t feel too horrible about failing lots of the time.  In reality, it’s almost impossible to be successful and on point 100% of the time, and you can only take so much action towards your dreams every day.

Not only that, but success is truly in the eyes of the beholder.  Some might think having a million dollars in the bank account means success while others might think success is just working from home every day.  I think in general, failure stems from us putting too much pressure on ourselves to do everything right.  Instead of looking at the 20 things we did right, we only look at the one thing we did wrong and we focus on that one thing so much that it drags us into a downward spiral.  Here are 3 tips that I use to overcome failure on a daily basis.
1. Realize Failure is Inevitable
You might as well come to grips with it now, but failure is here to stay.  If failure didn’t exist, we’d be great at everything and life would be boring.  It’s the struggle that makes a compelling story.  Once we understand that failure is inevitable, than we can stop feeling sorry for ourselves when it happens, and we can just roll with the punches knowing that it’s a part of life.  Of course when failure happens, it’s not the most pleasant experience, but just by understanding that it comes and goes like the weather, we can do our best to brush it aside when it happens and have comfort knowing that it soon will pass.

A lot of the times as creative entrepreneurs we interpret things as failures, when in actuality these are things that are out of our control.  All art is in the eye of the beholder.  So if you’re at an art festival and someone harshly criticizes one of your paintings, instead of feeling like a failure, remember that art is subjective and this just comes with the territory of being an artist.  If one person dislikes something about your creation, but a dozen other people praise you for the same work, then I wouldn’t stress too much about it.
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2. Failure is Actually a Good Thing
Success is a direct result of failure, so failure is actually a good thing!  I’m not saying to start worshipping failure as your new deity, but just understand that nothing in life is worthwhile without skinning your knees a bit.  What makes us an expert in our field is the fact that we’ve failed countless amounts of times but are still standing and have gained wisdom as a by-product.  So the more we fail and endure, the more people will look to us as an authority in our industry.

When I hear people say that they’ve been self employed for 10 years or more, I typically say to myself, “Wow that’s such an accomplishment,” not because of all the successes they’ve had, but because of all the failures they’ve endured.  To have longevity as an entrepreneur, you need to understand that obstacles will always pop up, but it’s how you tackle those obstacles that determine your success.
3. Learn The Lesson Then Move On
When failure happens, DON’T DWELL ON IT!  Don’t get so trapped in past mistakes that you get paralyzed and stop taking action towards your future goals.  If you start dwelling too much on past failures, then whatever momentum you had moving towards your dreams will likely be stifled.  Learn the lesson then move on.  Again realize that failure is just a part of life and this is how we grow and transform.

Maybe your failure is due to a product launch that didn’t do so well.  Or maybe your failure was due to treating a customer poorly when you didn’t mean to.  Or maybe your failure was not preparing well enough for a certain event.  Maybe even all three of these failures happened within a week of each other and then you feel like a massive failure, instead of just a regular failure.  Instead of feeling sorry for yourself and getting dragged into the downward spiral, make note of all three things that happened and promise yourself to take action toward a better outcome next time.  For these examples you could say to yourself:

“Ok, the next product launch we do we’ll put some more marketing behind it”

“The next time I help out a customer, I’ll be more humble and go above and beyond to help them out”

“That next workshop I teach, I’ll nail my introduction a lot better”
To Wrap Up
Failure is a part of our everyday lives, it’s inevitable, but it’s how we pick ourselves up from failure that determines our success.  Failure is actually a good thing, and it will help us grow and gain wisdom.  And lastly, when failure occurs, don’t dwell on it, learn the lesson and move on.  What are some other tips and tricks you use to overcome failure in your own life.  I’d love to hear your ideas!  To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the facebook and twitter buttons where you can leave a reply.  Thanks for tuning in friends!

-JJ Long
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