Failing successfully

Kees van Aalst

Failing is never any fun. Nobody likes to do it.

Fear of failure can even lead to performance avoidance. The fear of appearing incompetent prevents you from getting started in the first place. You play it safe by repeating the same old tricks, even though you’re sick of them – and others are, too.

The Facebook community doesn’t encourage you to change this and to experiment creatively. You’re among a group of people who are at roughly the same level. It’s a mutual admiration society which leads to unjustified feelings of self-congratulation and offers little incentive for creative development.

In a more professional environment you would discover that your current work is rather mediocre, nothing special. Is it because you lack talent? No, not necessarily. Rather, it indicates a lack of courage and of understanding your own potential.


When you start to experiment and take risks, you’ll discover that your work improves by leaps and bounds, and you don’t make dull pictures anymore. Not everything you try will turn out well immediately, but this ‘failure’ creates room to walk a different path towards your goal. Failures are the building blocks for success, they are part of the process of learning.

Even seasoned professionals experiment daily. A good example is a guy named Pablo Picasso, an unstoppable creative, always searching for renewal. In his quest he often discovered things about which he would later say: “I don’t seek, I find.”

A good teacher tries to be a guide in this quest, and will never force his own methods on the student. After all, the urge to imitate is a threat to creativity.

He will try to improve your strengths, rather than correct your weaknesses. The latter, after all, don’t belong to you. You don’t try to teach a dachshund to run faster so it can beat a greyhound in a race either. They each have their own qualities, and those should be trained.

Finally, a few bits of advice which may benefit you.

  • Don’t take anything as gospel, question everything, including what I say in this article.
  • Break the rules, if it makes for better results.
  • The less you work toward a fixed result, the fewer your chances of disappointment.
  • If you leave without a final destination, you can never get lost, but you may come across unexpected discoveries along the way.
  • Don’t get discouraged too quickly, but be realistic. Don’t demand more of yourself than you are capable of. Keep ambition and talent in balance.


One thought on “Failing successfully

Geef een reactie