I am a school teacher. Sixth grade. Over twenty years now. And I always give my students the same motto:
Failure is not an option. It is a step.
I stole that little nugget of advice from Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson. And it is an astounding talking point to have in class.
We all want to win. Subconsciously, we hate losing. Failing. Getting that overload of frustration with something we can’t do well. And me, I’m no different. As a writer, I yearn to be published. To get that name recognition. I even find myself jealous of my published friends (which I know is petty).
It’s like I’m playing this game designed by publishers and agents. Only I never roll the dice or move my piece along the board. They move it for me.
I was constantly thinking, what does my agent want? How can I make my work more marketable? What do I need to do to move ahead?
Why would anyone play such a game? It’s frustrating simply because all the decisions are outside your own control.
What I should have been thinking about was what I wanted. Not some pie in the sky aspirations of a best selling novel. (Stephen King has that well covered.) The question I really needed to ask was this: Why do I create art?
It reminds me of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths (I know this feels like a non sequitur, but I am also a teacher of ancient history). Suffering comes from wanting. If you stop wanting, then your suffering will stop. Hey, if it were only easy, Mr. Buddha!
But that’s the eternal struggle. To delve down into your true self and figure out what makes you tick. Ask yourself, why do you create? Strip away the fame and the money and the accomplishments. What is it that drives you?
When you answer that question, then failure has lost its power. You are trying to solve the puzzle of yourself. And at that game, there is no failure. Only steps along your life’s path.