It is a commonly used phrase. “Failure is not an option.”
Challenge is, when failure is not an option, we risk not learning from our mistakes, because in failure is not an option thinking, mistakes are not possible. In that space, we limit our capacity to think outside the box — or to even see, there is no box.
Our thinking becomes so focussed on doing the things that will guarantee success, we can’t allow space for ‘mistakes’ to lead the way to greatness.
In front of the easel I meet myself.
It is one of the many things I learn standing in front of the easel, leaning into the unknown.
Again and again, as I dig into the creative process, I see myself staring back at me with every brushstroke, with every layering of colour and texture and moment of wanting to wash it all over with white paint to begin again.
The creative process has expanded my understanding of the phrase, “Failure is not an option.”
I used to believe it meant, there is only one choice, come hell or high water, you will not fall down, you will not give in, you will persevere and rise above — at all costs.
It was the unspoken, at all costs, that had me in its grip.
At all costs meant, no matter how tired, how broken, how lost I was, I could never give into letting go of the need to appear ‘successful’. I could never let go of my pride.
“Failure” is just another cloud floating by
In front of the easel, I am constantly reminded that as long as I allow the urge to create to lead me into the unknown, as long as I give into the flow and trust in the process, without buying into my ego’s insistence it knows best, failure is just a thought that flows through and out, like clouds floating by on a summer’s day.
Ultimately, the fleeting thought of failure becomes part of the outcome. And, as long as my thinking stays expansive enough to allow for curiosity and experimentation, for happenstance and unexpected developments to appear, success isn’t measured in the beauty of the final piece (because believe me, I can always find flaws in the final piece if I really want to). Success is measured in the whole-heartedness of my experience of creation and the entirety of the final product – not the individual brushstrokes, but the entirety.
Moving through the fear of the well drying up
As I have been delving into the #ShePersisted series, I keep coming up against my fear of ‘the well’ drying up — which is just another term for fear of failure. Thus far, I have created 18 different images and quotes for the series. My original intent was to create 12.
Some I really like. Some, I’m curious about because they don’t resonate quite the same way as others. All are an expression of my creative essence.
Is that success or failure? Is 12, 18, 32 the number I will measure my success by? Or, is it simply a trusting in the process knowing that when I stay open to the muse, creativity flows freely and expresses itself through me without any expectation of success or failure?
Staying open and free of self-judgement/criticism requires a letting go of my need to ‘achieve’ and produce. It requires my breathing into my desire to be in harmony with the world around me through allowing the expression of my creative essence to flow freely.
The mystery of creativity is exposed in the unknown
I am fascinated by how the #ShePersisted series is appearing in my life. Several people have asked, how do you do it? How do the ideas keep coming?
It’s a mystery to me.
And I love that part of the creative process.
I trust in the process of letting go of my fear of creating into the unknown, so that the unknown can appear through my creative process.
Every time I stand in front of the easel, I don’t know what will appear. I don’t know how it will manifest itself. I do know that something magic happens when I let go of ‘directing’ the process and let it be the process of delving into the mystery.
Often, most times in fact, I start with the quote — and let the painting appear in concert with the words I want to use.
Often, most times in fact, the words I begin with give way to the words that appear through the mystery of being part of, into and of, the creative process.
As I mentioned, it’s a mystery — and part of the teachings of the creative process. Give into the mystery and let go of the need to direct the outcome by controlling the process every step of the way.
In that space, failure isn’t an option because, failure and success are simply part of the joy of being willing to take the journey.