Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Slaying the Dragon -- or Not Being Afraid to Fail

Yesterday in my email box I found this link to a blog that addresses this subject.

My sister had sent it to me, and I'm really glad she decided to share it with me (what she was doing up on her computer at 1:32 AM!, is a whole 'nuther question I need to ask her about!!)

The premise of the post deals with cutting into really expensive fabric, and as a sewer, I can relate to this "fear".

I remember when I bought my very first piece of mohair fabric about 15 years ago.

It was lovely, soft, a nice cream with a wonderful lavendar tip, I paid $35 for a quarter of a yard of the stuff --- and I was scared to cut it --- what if I ruined it?

Suffice it to say I found the courage and cut it, and now, because I've made many, many mohair bears, I don't worry about cutting into fabric that costs me $150 a yard any more --- I worry about SELLING the bear when its done, but that's a whole other problem and has nothing to do with fear.

There were three things in the post that especially stood out in my mind:

#1 -- "That's just what failure is, or what it ought to be: failure is just figuring stuff out the hard way."

and

#2 -- "Sometimes when people say they're afraid of failure, what they really mean is that they are afraid of humiliation."

and

#3 -- "humiliation passes... you remember it for months; the witnesses remember it for seconds (they have their own humiliations to obsess over, and don't have time for yours)."

Erin does a great thing here -- she talks about the roots of the fear, but she also gives us some hope for conquering the fear. A reminder that most of us (especially those of us who "create" for a living) are our own worst critics.

I remember once, back in the day when I worked an office job, that there was a young gal that worked in the office with me that had finished all of the training to do a rock climb and she was afraid to go actually climb. I sat down with her one Friday afternoon and we talked about it. I must have said the right things to her because when she came to work on Monday she had a slight sunburn, a skinned elbow and a hugh dose of self confidence because she had faced the dragon and conquered it. (some days I wish I had a "me" to do this for me!)

And the point here goes back to Erin saying that failure is figuring stuff out the hard way.

I've spent some time lately wishing I could afford to go a take a few classes on techniques for bears and jewelry and quilts because in that "figuring stuff out the hard way" there is a certain amount of frustration (especially for those of us that want to run before we crawl -- or play "Moonlight Sonata" as our first piano piece!)

There is an up side to NOT taking all those classes tho' (aside from the $$ saved).

One of the things that happens to me when I take classes, is I tend to start building little boxes that tell me things can only be done with the materials and instructions that the teacher used.

By not taking a class I am freed to try things about which a teacher would say "you can't use that material" or "you can't use that tool" or "that won't work"

In the process I create things that no one has seen before.

It can be frustrating trying to explain them to an unappreciative customer at a show, and sometimes even to the show jury, but it is definately interesting.

And so, I'm going to try to consider that "the witnesses will be obsessing over their own humiliations" -- sort of like picturing the audience at your speech in their underwear --

So what dragon will you slay today?

1 comment:

TravelinOma said...

I'm slaying the dragon that has kept me from reading my favorite blogs! Now that I have my life back, I'm catching up with friends and it was fun to read a bunch of your posts. It's only been a month or so, but I see how your writing is more confident and sassy. You've found your voice! I love it! How's your novel coming?