Failure is just another word for creativity

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A constant theme here on BoomerCafé is, we can reinvent ourselves. As a generation, we already have. So we like this story from mid-boomer Liz Kitchens, who has discovered that Failure is Just Another Word for Creativity.

I am far from a highly proficient “techie,” but I was fascinated by an NPR story I heard recently entitled, “Failure: The F word Silicon Valley Loves and Hates.”

Liz Kitchens

The story focused on high tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. According to the report, failure is glorified in this valley of technological start up companies. Interviewees in the story said things like, “The fear of being a failure drives you.”

One person noted, “Failure means you just haven’t gotten your success yet.” Another admitted, “Failure is mandatory; it’s as pervasive as the weather.”

I was stunned by the optimism of these statements. My husband and I consider ourselves entrepreneurs. I think we must conceive of new business ideas every other day. The process of conception (much as it is in the other kind of conception process) is the fun part— the brainstorming, the excitement of a new idea, the hope of making the idea produce actual income!

I’ve dreamed of making my “Be Brave. Lose the Beige” concept an income-producing business. I create art, write book, journals, and blogs, and conduct Lady Boomer workshops and retreats on the subject. Endeavors producing a sustainable source of income are a point of validation. Everyone around you affirms your idea is a success once you begin making money from it. If not, it’s a dream, a silly notion, or worse yet, a failure.

Aside from the obvious drawbacks of failing to earn money from an endeavor that consumes significant time and focus, there is the added burden of disappointing family members and friends. That fear of humiliation iswhat drives entrepreneurs, according to Joe Kraus of Google Ventures. “Threading that idea from the ‘vision’ stage to the ‘execution’ stage is a necessary step in the march to success.”

I know what that feels like. I’m 59-years-old this year. I can’t believe it. I feel like I might run out of time at any moment without fully realizing my dreams (although it’s not from a lack of trying). I spend an inordinate amount of time writing, researching, and sculpting. I often have hidden these endeavors from my “linear” lawyer friends out of fear they might say something like, “Why are you wasting your time doing that?!” After all, there has not been any kind of a guarantee I’ll make money from all these efforts.

But creativity is funny. It’s kind of like breathing. I can’t fathom living without it. So I loved hearing this story about success in Silicon Valley. I found it encouraging, a virtual support group for creative people. Remember, Thomas Edison was asked if he was frustrated about his lack of success after his 1,800 attempts to invent thelight bulb. “No,” he replied, “ I now know a thousand things that won’t work.”

So, if you feel alone in your quest toward entrepreneurship, share your experience in the “comments” below this story. We can commiserate.

4 Comments

  1. Wow, this article is so timely for me that it feels like a message from on high! Just this weekend I was down in the dumps about my writing, which wins awards but has few readers. Like you, I feel the clock ticking — I would hope that I have decades left, but we had one friend who didn’t make it to 50, so we know that every moment is precious. I have the deep satisfaction that comes from engaging in my creative calling, but I would like more readers! I don’t care about being on the bestseller list, but I’d like to earn enough to get my writing out of the “hobby” category. At the same time, I want to be proud of the work I do, regardless of whether I earn back my investments of time and money. Reading this post, I feel better. Thanks! :)

  2. What a great article.  Creativity breathes life and it’s so important to not loose focus and keep creating for creating’s sake.  Now that i have been recently laid off, I too would love to be able to earn a living in a much different way that I have in the past. For years for me, I have not felt fulfilled in my work sadly. But my adventures have helped fill that void and I realize how important it is to just DO what you love. So now with my life changing and trying to reinvent myself, I hope to have success in this social media world somehow…but for sure along the way, I already know that i am having fun. Thanks for the post.

  3. What a thought-provoking article! I also agree with the comments. I’m a writer and my book is doing well. But I certainly couldn’t make a living off of it. I’m told that it takes several books before most authors can do that. So, sometimes just getting those subsequent books written is a challenge – on a daily basis. I’ve heard it said that if you fall on your face, that’s a good sign – it means you were moving forward! I’ll take that! ~Karen

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