Embrace the fails – they’re success too.

There have been a lot of scary risks and leaps I’ve taken in my craft life. Things like writing a letter to every single manufacturer (over a decade ago) trying to get hired in any form was a great risk for rejection.

Not one person ever replied to those letters.

Applying to design teams and going out for jobs – that can be another risk because you’re putting yourself out there and the feelings of rejection can be overwhelming.

Ah, but here’s the secret to the whole thing: I couldn’t ever do what I do, I wouldn’t be who I am had I not failed hundreds of times. Oh at this point it may be into the THOUSANDS. I promise you that even today, should I go out for a design team I would more likely be told no thanks than yes please. It’s not personal, it isn’t my shortcoming – I just am perhaps not what that particular company needs in a team member. Guess what? That’s ok.

The only way to figure out what you want, what you excel in, and what you would really like to get better at is to put yourself out there. A few months back I decided I hadn’t been taking enough risks and felt kind of without solid focus. I started working on some brand focusing stuff. Watching videos and reading articles and working on some internal improvements here at HQ. I also tried submitting some articles to a huge website/blog.

When I first applied I was asked to make some pitches. That was super exciting. Then I was asked to write up a few. Scary, but still exciting. They never got picked up – in fact they never got a reply which seemed odd given the quick replies to the initial process. But that’s OK. The point of this was that it terrified me in a good “egads! Scary! Vulnerable! what if?!” way. The goal was to push myself, try something new, and embrace that vulnerable space where you’re not sure if success or failure is the desired result because both can be scary.

The actual success or fail wasn’t the point – it didn’t actually matter. It was the doing, the effort, the putting myself out there and trying new things that was the entire focus.

If you want to give this a go (creative industry speaking) I do have a few tips. First of all – never ever be afraid to email a person or contact a company and pitch your idea. I can count on one hand the number of times someone has approached me with an idea/to pitch themselves. People just don’t tend to jump in and go for it! Just follow these three rules:

  • Keep it short/to the point and respect their busy schedule. Cut out all the meandering/long intros/deep detail. They’ll contact you if you spark interest.
  • Keep it focused on what you can provide/do for the company and/or how your idea benefits them in some way.
  • Have something to back it up- if you say you craft a ton, blog regularly, etc… you’d better have the website/gallery/proof to show you are serious!

Just remember – being turned down is not a “fail” or rejection. You’ve got to knock on a LOT of doors, try a lot of ideas, and make a lot of stuff before things start opening up and you start seeing progress. That’s all good – it’s a part of the ever changing process of being a creative person.

This applies to all those who enjoy this hobby of paper crafting in general too – don’t get stuck and don’t tell yourself “I can’t…” because guess what? You CAN do whatever it is you’ve convinced yourself is impossible for you. You just have to do little steps each day, embrace the fails as well as the wins, and go for it.

10 thoughts on “Embrace the fails – they’re success too.”

  1. Thanks, May. I love your articles, you’re a great writer. But even better is that you share so kindly your experience. And it helps. My life is different from most people’s by a far stretch. I couldn’t apply for design teams, I don’t have the tech skill for that, but even if I did I don’t have the right personality for it. In real life I’m shy and sheltered. Sure I can reply on a blog and feel ok enough. Anyway, that said, even though I will never share my crafty work, I still take lots away from this post that I will apply to my life. I did somewhat need a kick in the pants, and I appreciate your encouragement. Thanks. You rock. Michelle t

  2. (Sorry, MY caPS KEY IS NOT WORKING…) i’VE RECENTLY BEEN FORCED TO START A NEW CAREER. sCARY, YES, BUT ALSO EXCITING. WHEN I EXPRESSED concern that I couldn’t do this or that because I’d never done it or couldn’t see myself doing a particular type of work, a dear family member told me that I’m the only one putting myself in a box and it was up to me to decide how to define myself. And, so, I decided to put myself out there, take some chances, risk rejection, and learn from it. Life is not a destination, it’s a journey.

  3. Hi May!
    Thanks for an EXCELLENT blog post today!!! This was just the medicine I needed. :o) I wrote you about a year ago, for advice and you were the only one who answered me. I appreciate you so much, and I will copy this blog and put it up in my scrap room. Thanks May!!!!!!

  4. thanks for publishing this. It is so important that people know how hard you worked to get here. And not to let negativity put you down. I love your blog.

  5. Such a great post – thanks May.
    I just have to say your girls are so lucky to have you as their mum – what an amazing role model you are
    Thanks for always being so positive and willing to share your experience and advice!

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