A Professional Does Not Take Failure Personally

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I am taking a part out of the book The War of Art, gifted to me by my Mentor

I love to share these little golden nuggets from this book with You!

When people say an artist has a thick skin, what they mean is not that the person is dense or numb, but that he has seated his professional consciousness in a place other than his personal ego.

It takes tremendous strength of character to do this, because our deepest instincts run counter to it. Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts.

This is how the tribe enforced obedience, by wielding the threat of expulsion. Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. It’s in our cells.

Resistance knows this and uses it against us. It uses fear of rejection to paralyze us and prevent us, if not from doing our work, then from exposing it to public evaluation.

I had a dear friend who had labored for years on an excellent and deeply personal novel. It was done. He had it in its mailing box. But he couldn’t make himself send it off. Fear of rejection unmanned him.

The professional cannot take rejection personally because to do so reinforces Resistance. Editors are not the enemy; critics are not the enemy. Resistance is the enemy.

The battle is inside our own heads. We cannot let external criticism, even it it’s true, fortify our internal foe. That foe is strong enough already.

A professional schools herself to stand apart from her performance, even as she gives herself to it heart and soul.

The Bhagavad-Gita tells us we have a right only to our labor, not to the fruits of our labor. All the warrior can give is his life; all the athlete can do is leave everything on the field.

The professional loves her work. She is invested in it wholeheartedly. But she does not forget that the work is not her.

Her artistic self contains many works and many performances. Already the next is percolating inside her. The next will be better, and the one after that better still.

The professional self-validates. She is tough-minded. In the face of indifference or adulation, she assesses her stuff coldly and objectively. Where it fell short, she’ll improve it. Where it triumphed, she’ll make it better still. She’ll work harder. She’ll be back tomorrow.

The professional gives an ear to criticism, seeking to learn and grow. But she never forgets that Resistance is using criticism against her on a far more diabolical level.

Resistance enlists criticism to reinforce the 5th column of fear already at work inside the artist’s head, seeking to break her will and crack her dedication.

The professional does not fall for this. Her resolution, before all others, remains: No matter what, I will never let Resistance beat me.

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Bill Soriano

Email: Bill@billsoriano.com

 

 

 

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