How Your Creativity Can Survive its own Success

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.

Theodore Roosevelt

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the extraordinarily successful book “Eat, Pray, love.” I loved the book. They made it into a movie and, to my surprise, I didn’t enjoy it. In my humble opinion, the movie doesn’t hold a torch to the book. In fairness to the producers, I recognise that it is not possible to fit a book like that into a couple of hours. A lot had to be cut out. A lot was.

What came as a pleasant surprise though is that Elizabeth is also an extraordinary speaker and I really connected with her message in the Ted Talk linked below. What happens in the aftermath of huge success or failure? Failure devastates. So does the aftermath of huge success with its relentless uncomfortable questions. Questions like “am I irrelevant now?’ How do I maintain this extraordinary standard? Are people watching for my failure now? Are the ones who disliked my original success watching for my failure. Is this it? Have I peaked? The rest of my life will forever fall short of this success and I must live with that? Will I be the person who has to beat off insecurity caused by new talent with back in 1867 I was successful? I can’t do any more than this so why try?

For these reasons, success can also be a primary cause of future failure or being frozen in place. It can also kill your creativity. The way to ensure your creativity survives its own success is exactly the same way to ensure it survives failure. Ground yourself in why you do what you do. Make your why your home. A sturdy home built on principled ground that you truly believe in. When you do that success and failure will wash through and over you like they are supposed to. They do not become you. And when you are faced with fear or doubt or you feel overwhelmed, the answer will always be clear:

“I’m not going to quit. I am going home.” Take a listen.

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