You’re lounging in your prized recliner chair that’s been handed down for generations–so it has that great sit in feel–when lighting strikes your head. Not literally, obviously, but an idea is conjured up in your mind that is so good, so amazing, you question how it was never thought up before. Maybe it has been thought up; but it doesn’t matter, your idea makes it better. It trumps it by a million.
So you take your idea and write it down. Perhaps it’s that novel or movie you’ve always wanted to make. Maybe it’s some new designer shoes that will make Nike bow to your every move. Maybe it’s that company you’ve always wanted to apply for, and they finally have an opening. Whatever it is, you help this idea grow; blossom into a legit possibility of becoming real. You obsess about this idea. It becomes your life-force. Full steam ahead.
Your friends love your idea. Your parents think you’re nuts, but that’s nothing new. Been thinking you’re crazy since you tried eating mulch at age five.
But I’m going to tell you a secret about this idea. A little insider knowledge. You see, this idea you’ve had in your head, this purpose you’ve been following for so long, well…
No really, you should quit what you’re doing, be ashamed of what you thought up, and by-the-way, probably step foot in traffic during rush hour on the freeway. Blindfolded. Naked.
Whoa! You like, just crushed my feelings there, man. Screw you!
Ok, ok. I don’t really mean it when I say your idea sucks. But here’s the catch. No matter how hard you work, no matter how good this idea is, someone will hate it. Someone will sit behind a desk or a computer screen and tell you your idea is terrible. And that yes, you’re terrible for coming up with it. Cue the squeaky violin.
Today, the Internet has grown into a basin of negativity. People troll message boards behind aliases to spew bile and negativity at everyone. And they feel so wronged, don’t they? It’s not just this movie sucked. No, it’s that director should burn in hell! We’ve become a generation of entitlement for things we had nothing to do with. I remember when Toy Story 3 came out there was literally ONE negative review on Rotten Tomatoes. One out of thousands, but somehow that one review got press. Everyone made such a big deal about it, forgetting the movie was completely and universally praised. The world loves to consume negativity, and the world loves to see you fail. Especially if you try harder. Then you’re really a loser.
One thing I’ve noticed is that the generation growing up now isn’t properly prepared for this sort of failure. Too many people are never told they’re wrong or are given a trophy for just “participating”. We make things safer and easier when in truth it’s making things harder and worse for the future. Because one day you’ll be 22, and you’ll have a few job interviews you thought you killed and they’ll deny you, and suddenly you’re trashing you’re room thinking life is so unfair and worth quitting at the moment. Over an INTERVIEW. Think about that for a second.
Many times, being told no or being rejected has NOTHING to do with you. Maybe that girl you so desperately tried asking out only dates older men. Maybe that job interview you slam dunked was not yours to take because they ended up merging another position into it. Totally out of your control. You gave it 100%, and it just wasn’t meant to be. But here’s the best part. If you’re ever struggling with rejection or feeling like nobody sees the vision that you see, hold on to this.
There are THOUSANDS of other opportunities. There are thousands of other guys and girls to ask out. Thousands of other jobs. One failure does not equal a lifetime of them. You can’t know success unless you know failure first. There’s a quote in my unpublished book (of course I have to shamefully plug it in here, this is my website after all) that says…
If everyone got what they wanted, they wouldn’t know what ‘want’ is because they’d already have everything. They’d have no desire. No love. No ability to overcome. Sometimes, not getting what we want, not feeling blessed, that’s the blessing. Maybe it’s what we needed and never dared asking for.
The thing is, you will fail. More than once. Many famous authors had their manuscripts rejected dozens upon dozens of times. We look at that now and think those agents must have been crazy. But maybe they weren’t looking for those type of stories. Maybe the horror books by Stephen King just rubbed them the wrong way. But all those authors have one thing in common. They didn’t give up. They believed in their ideas. And the hard work paid off.
Another thing to remember … it’s never a good thing to cater your idea to the masses. Be original. Are you working on this idea, hoping to reap positivity through the reactions of others, or are you working on this idea because you think it’s pretty friggin cool? One of those is a great reason and one of those is sucky. You can never please everyone, so above all, please yourself. Make sure you’re happy with the direction you’re going. You’re better off succeeding by saying “I believe in this idea” instead of “I believe people will LOVE this idea,” because that’s never something for you to decide. You can’t predict the reaction to your actions. Say that ten times fast.
If you haven’t seen The Lego Movie yet (and if that’s true, what the heck is wrong with you?!) Emmet, the main character, is a regular construction worker who thinks he isn’t special. He does, however, have this wild idea about building a double-decker couch. That way everyone can be buddies! At first, when he explains it to people, they hate it. In fact–they not only hate the idea–they call him disappointing. Everyone else can build these amazing things and his lame couch sticks out like a sore thumb. But the cool thing is, later on, the double-decker couch gets used in a life-saving scenario when the submarine they’re all traveling in explodes in the ocean, and it’s the only thing that stays afloat. After that, people start to accept Emmet’s crazy ideas. They see the potential in them, no matter how weird or strange they were at first. The couch became this crazy, life-saving device even Emmet didn’t see coming.
I recently finished the third draft of my first book–Ripe–and am in the intense pull-you’re-hair-out revision phase. I completely and fully believe in this idea–or book–and eventually want to sell it. As for what’s going to happen with that, I have no clue. None. I can’t honestly tell you if the first agent I pursue will love it or the hundredth; or none. But through each rejection, the idea’s only going to get better. I’m only going to learn more, instead of less.
One of the main characters in my book says this…
“The only way we ever learned how to stand was by falling. A lot. Over and over we fell. It sucked so much. We got sick of it and said enough is enough, pulled up our pants, clenched our fists, and tried and tried again. Then one day, our wobbly legs stopped shaking and stood firm. We celebrated because we knew how much it hurt to fall, and we never wanted to do that friggin crap again. Everyone falls. It’s gravity. Can’t escape that unless you’re on the moon. It’s when we rise up–now that’s something noteworthy: going against science in order to stand up tall.”
If you’re going to fall, fall forward. That way when you get up you’re already one step further from where you left off.
Don’t give up on your ideas, and don’t give up on yourself. Always remember there will be someone, somewhere ready to open their loving arms and shout, “You suck!”
And if they do, just smile back and say, “I know.”
Ok, don’t really say that, but you know what I’m getting at.