Every day, I kick the morning off by reading from “The Awe-Manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder” by Jill Badonsky. It is a delightful book filled with positive thoughts, quotes and creativity prompts.
Today’s quote is from Johnny Cash, born this day in 1932. He would have been 78 years old. “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”
How many of us actually do that? Do we truly close the door on our failures or do we allow them to haunt us; ghosts of negativity flitting about in our minds, wearing us down and constantly reminding us that we’ll never be successful? It doesn’t matter if you are an olympic athlete, a doctor, a business owner or a writer as negative thoughts can and will throw a person off course, derailing them at every turn but only if they allow that negativity in – only if they allow that negativity to sit inside their minds and fester.
It’s easy to believe the bad stuff. It’s much harder to believe the good. For some reason, we are conditioned to think less of ourselves than we truly are. Why is that? Why do we cut ourselves down and treat ourselves as though we are nothing more than scraps? We are so much more than that. When we fail, we must remember that failure is not a closed door. It is not a lock for which there is no key. Failure is simply the inability to arrive at a desired outcome using the particular method we are trying at that moment. Failure is really a guidepost telling us we are not taking the right path. Sometimes – and there will be times – when failure is not of our own doing but rather it is an external problem impeding our ability to accomplish something. The end result is the same, however. It is not an indication that we are supposed to throw up our hands and give up. Failure does not equal quitting. Quitting does, however, equal failure and that is what we must avoid at all costs. That is when we need to rise up and shut the negative thoughts down before they have a chance to set up shop inside our minds.
As writers, we have good days and we have bad days. We submit our work and sometimes it is rejected, sometimes it is accepted. Much of the time, unfortunately, the rejections outnumber the acceptances. But what matters is that we focus on the acceptances; that we focus on the fact that we are not giving up; that we refuse to give up. Instead, we keep at it. We keep looking for that right path that will lead us to our desired destination.
A dear writer friend of mine who was also my mentor, once told me the difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is the unpublished writer has quit trying. He was right. A failed writer is one who has given up. It’s not the writer who didn’t sell a million copies of his or her book. It’s not the writer who perhaps published only one book in their entire career. The failed writer is the writer who never tries in the first place or gives up and never writes another word. That is failure.
As Johnny Cash said, we must build on our failure and use it to empower us, not derail us. Acknowledge it but shut the door and let it go. Mistakes and failures are the growing pains of life. We must all endure them at some point or other in order to become the people we are meant to be.
Don’t let failure define who you are. You decide who you are for yourself – in spite of those failures.