You are only as good as your last failure

It’s an old, overused adage.

You are only as good as your last success.

But if that is really true, you are also only as good as your last failure.

You are only as good as the last project you completed, whether it be a crazy success, a bit mediocre, or a complete failure. Take this picture of gorgeous Cornwall. If you were to see this place only in winter, and only value it for what it is then, wouldn’t you be missing out? By the same token, to only value what it is when the sun is shining is also only seeing half of what it is.

The problem with this idea is that it takes one person and everything that they can do, and boils them down to a product.

It shouldn’t surprise you (I hope) to hear me say that you are not just what you create. You are a whole person, with a myriad of skills and talents, who has value far beyond your creative output.

One of the biggest challenges of being a creative person is that your work is not always going to be visible. For example, if you are writing a three part novel, Miss Prism style (anyone out there get the reference?), it might be a long time before people can value what it is you are making.

And if, at the end of that hard work, your creative output doesn’t seem to have much appeal to anybody (also Miss Prism style), does that mean that you, as yourself, also aren’t valued by others?

Of course not.

So rather than constantly put ourselves through the self-torture of feeling like a failure, to feeling like a success, to plummeting right on down again, let’s change our perspective.

Experience the joy of your success.

Experience the pain of your failures.

But after each, always take a moment to remember: I am not what I create. I am the one who creates it, and no matter what the outcome, I was brave enough to do it in the first place.

And finally, remember your infinite value beyond your work. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and nothing can ever change that.

Jena Ren / Jenny Guilford – 2020

This post was originally published March 3rd, 2020.

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