In my post ‘
The Death of Dreams’, I delved into failure at a deeper, more fundamental level. Hugh recently tweeted Elisabeth Gilbert’s TED speech ‘Nurturing Creativity’.

Gilbert, author of mega-best seller ‘Eat, Pray, Love” talks about the emotional and other challenges of having seen exceptional success and knowing, as I described in my post, ‘this is as good as it gets.’ She describes…

“It’s exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me. Jesus, what a thought. That’s the kind of thought that could lead a person to start drinking gin at 9:00 in the morning and I don’t want to go there. I would prefer to keep doing what I love. And so the question becomes how….The tricky bit comes the next morning for the dancer himself when he wakes up and discovers it’s Tuesday 11:00 am and he is no longer a glimpse of god. He is just an aging mortal with really bad knees and maybe he is never going to ascend to that height again and maybe no one will ever chant God’s name again as he spins and what is he then to do with the rest of his life. This is hard. This is one of the most painful reconciliations to make in a creative life.”

Gilbert espouses a coping approach which segregates the exceptional accomplishments of the past from ‘one’s being’ and are thought about as ‘being on loan to you.’ Essentially, she is advocating taking ego out of the mix. First of all, taming the ego itself is as harsh a challenge as anyone will face in life. But, the approach seems similarly applicable to those whose dreams have not materialised in a ‘glimpse of the Gods’, but appear forever out of reach. A big part of the pain here too is the impact on the ego of feeling the failure personally.

Her parting advice is the gem of the speech which provides the truly pragmatic and inspirational direction to how to persevere and thrive regardless of how limited the future appears…

“Don’t be afraid. Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case [referring to a creative muse she talks about earlier], decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed for just one moment through your efforts, then ‘Ole’. And if not, then do your dance anyhow. And ‘Ole’ to you nonetheless. I believe this and I feel that we must teach it. ‘Ole to you nonetheless’ just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.”