I recently attended a writer’s workshop where the focus was on developing our craft, the publishing process, and how to get to the next level with our writing. I attended a talk where the speakers were friends. Instead of supporting each other’s best perspectives they dragged on another down. Both respected and known authors in their fields, they had independently achieved a certain amount of success. However, instead of talking about their accomplishments and celebrating them they instead chose to focus on how hard won those victories were.
While there is much to be said for honesty in a public forum and not sugarcoating the process to those in the audience it could have been defeating. The talk overly focused on the setbacks, challenges, and rejection that can be part of pursuing a writing career. Rather than giving hope, the speakers could not see beyond their personal hardship. They described their experiences as writers and anxiety ridden, full of disappointment, and rejection.
As a counter to that, we all know that every path is challenging. As Tom Hanks told us in A League of the Their Own, “the hard is what makes it great.” But if you can’t enjoy being invited to speak at an industry event, and feel flattered or honored perhaps the wins are lost on you. Perhaps your perspective needs a tune up. Because to those of us in the audience being on stage and invited to speak is a very real victory. Several attendees spoke in the hall about having no interest in hearing about the challenges. We all know the challenges. We want to know how you came to be where you are as a respected industry expert. And if you can’t see your victory from up on a stage, chances are you never will, unless you make some real changes to your perspective.
Perhaps that is the deeper lesson, how profoundly your perspective impacts your experience. We cannot enjoy the good if we are not looking for it. Instead of allowing our challenges to embitter us let us use them to motivate us as we move forward. We overcame so much to get here – isn’t that incredible? And this is true of every person in every room, not only those on stage. You made it here – that is worthy of joy and celebration!