Entrepreneurs are notoriously passionate people. You need passion, or else you wouldn’t stay up late, wake up early, and prioritize a company you wholly believe in over a social life. When you’re passionate about what you do, it’s easy to find your identity in your work.
Jon Acuff Changed My Relationship with Work
Nearly two years ago I“1 Reason You Have a Hard Time with Haters” by Jon Acuff, and it resonated with me. As creatives, we often find our value in our work, not as a creative human. The entire article is great, but this is the critical piece:
“Your art is not your identity. It’s not who you are, it’s a byproduct of knowing who you are. The difference is subtle but critical.”
Read that again. “It’s not who you are.”
It’s nearly impossible to separate yourself from your work. When we pour our entire selves into something, whether it’s successful or not, remaining unattached is difficult. And when your work takes a turn towards a cliff and you reach a point of needing to say “no”?
What Failure Taught Me
About a month ago, my business partner and I chose to part ways and dissolve the company. I won’t go into the details, because they aren’t necessary. What is important is learning from my mistakes, picking myself back up, and realizing that it’s OK to “fail.”
Now, why is “failure” in quotes? Because as long as you learn from all your experiences and reflect on what you could have improved on, it’s not truly failure. It’s a time when you took a risk regardless of the outcome and worked to make something incredible.
I soon realized that a large piece of why I was struggling with this was that I’ve surrounded myself with a community of incredible, hard-working people. Why is that? This incredible group of people are in their 30s and 40s, which means this 20-something perfectionist has trouble remembering that she’s only a couple of years out of school and has time. Everyone has had their failures and their successes.
When Failure Happens to You
When “failure” happens, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. It means that you’re learning and growing and experiencing something everyone does at some point or another. You chose to take a risk and to stop saying “Oh, that’d be cool.” You decided to go for it and see what could happen.
And that, my friends, is worth the stress, the fear, the sweat and the tears.
Next time you’re staring failure in the face, remember that you aren’t your work, and that failure can teach you some of the best lessons of your life. Through failure you learn more about who you are. Through failure you learn the practical ways you can improve next time. Through failure you realize that it’s not the end. It’s merely the beginning.
“You gave it your heart, but you did not leave your heart with the project.” — Jon Acuff