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How can you possibly fail at anything creative?

My son and I were talking about some changes he was making in his life. ‘How can you possibly fail at anything creative?’ he asked me. Which is true of course, because creativity is completely subjective. This led us to a deeper discussion about failure in general and we agreed that really, all of our choices are open to interpretation. Often the things we initially deem as failure are those that lead us to alternatives that are more meaningful in the long run.

I started to wonder though, what does it actually mean to fail? In exams, it’s black and white and easy to understand. But in life or your career, it’s ambiguous because success is often about meeting a set of criteria created by a person or a group of people whose opinions differ from your own.

Undeniably, there are measures we understand to be universal markers of success but I’ve worked with many people who have achieved those markers who are deeply unhappy so I’m not sure I agree with a conventional way of thinking about what makes a successful life.

Failure is what happens when you feel disconnected from who you really are

I think failure is better classified as what happens when you feel disconnected from who you really are, or when you’re emotionally empty or living in a way that has no reference to your personal values.

I’ve met people who have little by way of material wealth who are alive on the inside and inspired by their lives and at the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve met executives who earn multiple six figure incomes who have little desire to get out of bed in the morning because their lives are soulless and grey.

Maybe, we need to rewrite the rules

A successful life could be one where you drive a fancy car and earn lots of money but equally, it might be a life where you walk away from a miserable role to write beautiful poetry that nobody reads. Or where you stick with your day job but spend your weekends tending a vegetable patch and creating a community produce-swapping scheme. Or maybe it’s one where you follow just one of your dreams – even if you don’t quite make it to your desired outcome.

Success is trying, doing, being creative and original

It’s not following the crowd, being willing to say no, pursuing the thing that is calling you, asking for help, taking a risk, walking away, pushing through the barriers. It’s picking yourself up to do it all again when it doesn’t work out the first time.

And maybe failure is the opposite.

Which do you choose?

  • That’s it! You’re only a failure when you stop picking yourself up and trying again, when you give up is When you fail

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  • Really interesting article! Thanks for sharing this!

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  • I don’t want to be too hippy, but I believe trying is the key to success too =)

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  • Interesting and thoughtful article. Thank you!

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  • Absolutely loved your article, I think if you try you are never a failure, regardless if you don’t achieve what you set out to do, the trying in my books is you are a success, better to try then never try.

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  • This article has definitely made me think about my self and my current feelings of ‘failure’.
    This quote “I think failure is better classified as what happens when you feel disconnected from who you really are, or when you’re emotionally empty or living in a way that has no reference to your personal values.” resonates with me…..
    time for some changes! Thank you

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  • Good at some things, hopeless at others. Let ‘s not think we are going to be all-round “successes” in every area of life. A realistic mindset helps us run at opportunities that involve our skills or passions and accept that someone else will do better than us in some other areas. That is why athletes compete in their own event. We’ve seen on TV the strong footballers try out the ballet dancers training regime and look foolish, but at their own game they are a wonder to behold. Same for us. Pick the life that is good for you. We are all on our own journey.

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  • Wow great read thanks for sharing

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  • Very thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing

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  • very uplifting. thanks for sharing

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  • Originality stood out for me in this article. Never be afraid to be different, don’t follow the crowd. I’m not afraid to voice a different opinion than thousands of other people (it’s my right) and if something doesn’t work for me, I’m not necessarily a failure, I’ll try something new, we all can’t paint like Rembrandt or juggle three things as once.

    Thanks for the article.

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  • Good read thanks for the information

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  • failure to me is giving up

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  • Great ideas and thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

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  • I don’t believe in failure, just unfinished business

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