It's Okay to Fail

It's Okay to Fail

When I made the decision to start the Blacktop Nomad I had to do a bunch of work before I could make my idea public.  I had to come up with designs, print test samples, take photos, build a website, work out payment options, work out shipping.....the list goes on.  But before any of that could actually begin I had to do one thing, allow myself to fail.  Mentally, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was about to invest time, effort and. money into an idea that had the very real possibility of being a complete flop.

The same goes for anything I create, whether I'm trying to monetize it or not.  Anytime a person sets out to create something; be it a piece of art, music, craft, home DIY - insert your project here - you accept the risk that in spite of your best effort what you end up creating may be a bit crap.  It may not be well received by yourself or others, it may not turn out as well as you had hoped or it simply may not work at all.

So when I see all of the motivational b.s. out there trying to convince people that failure isn't an option or that all you need to do is simply persist until you succeed I tend to get a bit peeved.  While it sounds nice on the face of it, and you absolutely shouldn't throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble, acting like success is an absolute guarantee provided you just put in enough effort can send a potentially dangerous message.

The first big problem I see is that it can cause a person to waste needless time trying to fruitlessly master something when their efforts might actually be better rewarded if they were to give up on one thing to potentially focus on another.  You can get so fixated on trying to make something work out, especially if you are significantly invested, frustration can blind you to potential pathways that may be more rewarding. I've been in this position a number of times and when you've already invested a large amount of time, money, effort, or as often as not all three it can be very hard to let go of.  I've actually lost count of all the time I've wasted spinning my wheels in frustration trying to "get blood from a stone" as they say simply because I was too stubborn to let myself fail.

Which leads me straight into my next point; if you never allow yourself to fail you risk giving up on creating entirely.  Frustration can easily lead to depression, and depression is the ultimate killer of creativity.  About 6 years ago I was working on another apparel brand and I hadn't considered the potential of failure.  The one thing I hand't planned on is that despite all the effort in the world on my part sometimes things happen outside of our control.  Unable to accept the failure the frustration of watching everything I'd worked for go up in smoke left me severely depressed.  As a result I stopped creating for almost 5 years.

What I've come to realize after a long period of reflection is that I need to treat failures as not only an inevitability but as a tool rather than something to fear.  Looking back everytime I've dropped the ball, screwed up, or fallen short of the goal line there was always something that was holding me back from actually succeeding.  If I analyzed my mistake and took the time to learn what had held me back I could fix it or avoid it the next time I tried.  So instead of failure isn't an option I wish people would say that learning is a must

By starting to humanize failure, accepting that sometimes it is unavoidable and that it will always provide the opportunity to learn and improve from it.  So when it came time to decide what I was going to do with this idea I had for the Blacktop Nomad I was backed by the wealth of knowledge of every failure that came before it.  I also now know that giving it my all doesn't protect me from future failures and accepting that fact allows me to enjoy this creative process more as a result.  I've failed before, at somepoint I'll fail again and that's ok with me.

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