Thursday, January 21, 2016

It’s a tough way to live, but a damn good way not to die

I admire people who dish out tough love like candy. 

They possess the generosity and courage and audacity and perspective to give others straightforward feedback, tell the ugly truth and help them identify their own missteps. It’s a lost art. Only a small percentage of the population can do it well. 

But in that moment, when a person tells you exactly what the odds against you are, and perhaps how to even them out, as painful and dispiriting as it might feel at the time, it’s still a gift. 

I once read a brilliant book that listed all the reasons a writer’s next work of art might never be published. The author was the founding editor of a renowned literary publisher who spent several decades reading lousy submissions, and so, his bottom line advice for artists was realistic, memorable and instructive. One of the insights that struck a chord with me was:

Avoid the sloppy mistakes that make rejecting you easy. 

Otherwise, explained the author, in the eyes of potential readers or customers or buyers or audiences, you don’t appear to be serious. You’re not doing the necessary work. You’re not separate from those who take shortcuts. 

That scared me. It still scares me. Because as an imperfectionist who insists on executing at warp speed, I have a tendency to become a victim of my own velocity. I commit sloppy mistakes that make rejecting me easy. 

Thank god for those dispensers of tough love. Without them, we might never realize the naiveté and narrowness of our own thinking. 

Which figure in your life helps you identify your own missteps?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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