the alternative to failure…

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13/09/2011 by Sarah Ritchie

If you had asked me what the alternative to failure was, I would have said “success” (wouldn’t you?). Until reading this blog post by Seth Godin (below), I never thought that there was a second alternative to failure…to do nothing. It takes a bit of mind-retraining to look at failure in a positive way, as it seems to go against everything we are taught from youth, but there you have it, and it makes sense.

I can easily get trapped in the “do nothing” mindset (inaction is far less painful than failure), however – from an artistic point of view – doing nothing is worse than failing. You don’t learn. You don’t grow. You don’t encourage others. You don’t bless others. You rob others of the opportunity to share with you in the journey, and then maybe…just maybe…a share in your success (which will eventually come).

The alternative to failure
(Seth Godin)

To the critic who decries a project as a worthless folly, something that didn’t work out, something that challenged the status quo and failed, the artist might ask, “Is it better to do nothing?”
To the critic who hasn’t shipped, who hasn’t created his art, anything less than better-than-what-I -have-now appears to be a waste. To this critic, progress should only occur in leaps, in which a fully functioning, perfected new device/book/project/process/system appears and instantly and perfectly replaces the current model. We don’t need your sharp wit or enmity, please. Our culture needs your support instead.

Each step by any (and every) one who ships moves us. It might show us what won’t work, it might advance the state of the art or it might merely encourage others to give it a try as well.

To those who feel that they have no choice but to create, thank you.


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Sarah Ritchie
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Finalist, Estuary Art Awards 2011
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© Sarah Ritchie 2014

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