The following post is an excerpt from my new book, Get the Hell Past It: How to Recover from Failure with Grace, Dignity and Possibly Some Cash. If you enjoy this section, I strongly recommend you pick up the book and learn more on the secret to writing well, as well as how to face creative failure like a boss!
Failure is real, and you cannot escape it. The following is one of the most powerful stories I’ve ever heard on the subject, so I wanted to share it with you.
I had lunch with a new client today. I’m already reflecting back on that amazing salad and Americano by the breezy Belizean beach, while he told me all about the blood, sweat and tears he’d poured into his industry over the last several decades. One story, in particular, stood out to me.
After a particular business venture didn’t work out for him, this client was looking for new work. He met with several people and then had a surprise meeting with someone he’d known from his past, who was looking for a new addition to his team. They sat down together, and my client admitted the hardships he’d endured during the recent unsuccessful phase in his life. His prospective employer told him:
“Yeah, I saw that coming.”
“You did?” my client asked.
“Yep, sure did,” the other man said. “You thought you were bulletproof; you were due for a fall.”
My client was puzzled. “And you still want to hire me?”
“I do,” said his interviewer. “I never would have before your failure, but now I can trust you to take this work seriously. You’re who you are today, the person I want today because this happened to you.”
He got the job.
The reason I love this story so much is because it proves something we all instinctively know is true but can’t quite convince ourselves of when we’re in the throes of a disappointment:
Failure has value.
But because it hurts, that value is often hard to find. That’s why I decided to write a book that intentionally talked all about how beneficial failure is to the creative process. It makes your writing richer but your expectations lower, your work ethic stronger and your skin thicker, your fragility less fragile and your ego less outsized. It’s the secret to writing well.
If you fail frequently and still write, you learn to:
Seriously, you guys. Failure has made me the writer I am today, and I could never wish it away in a million years.
So next time you feel the urge to hide that failure, remember these benefits and that failure is the secret to writing well. Remember that my client landed his dream job by flaunting that failure. (Or at least, by failing to hide it. Ha.)
When it comes to failure, the only option is to embrace it, to see its benefits and to share your stories with others. Sharing your tales, and hearing theirs, is the only way to draw power from what otherwise sucks major rocks.
In other words, to kick ass.
And take names.
You get where I’m going with this.
Okay, get out there and WIN AT CREATIVE LIFE! And be sure to email me if you have any questions, would like to see more specific information in the form of posts on the blog, or need anything else! I hope to hear from you soon.
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