As a person who creates, you’re bound to get feedback. Both good and bad.
But over the years I found that there’s a type of feedback that falls in a gray area between these two extremes. They’re called compliments. Although they’re usually well meaning, some can be deadly to one’s sense of self and productivity.
Over the next several blogs, I want to delve into dangerous compliments that can kill creativity, how to spot them and what to do with them.
Here’s #1: “You’re so lucky”
Why you may hear this: It’s sexier than saying “You’ve worked hard”
How to reply: Smile
When it comes to the arts, for some reason, people like to disregard things like work ethic, perseverance, determination and drive. They see success in the arts as something ‘other than normal’ so if you succeed it really has nothing to do with your effort just the stars aligning or magic fairy dust.
Of course I’m not saying that luck doesn’t exist. It does, but “You’re so lucky” is a compliment handed to artists more than other professionals and with it is a belief that you’re a lottery winner, you were chosen, and your success has nothing to do with you. It could have happened to anyone so don’t get too proud.
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Stephen Leacock
When offered this compliment, just nod and smile. You can even say ‘Yes, I am,’ which will really throw people off, then toss it aside and get back to work.
I believe the following poem from an unknown author sums it up beautifully.
They Called it Luck
He worked by day
and toiled by night.
He gave up play
and much delight.
Dry books he read,
new things to learn.
And forged ahead,
success to earn.
He plodded on,
with faith and pluck.
And when he won,
they called it luck.
That’s a silly poem you may say. Some people are truly lucky and I’m one of them. I’ve had so many good breaks and things fall into place.
I won’t argue with you because so have I. However, if you’re not careful you’re setting yourself up for failure.
When things don’t work out, when your career hits a major blow, when your work is out of favor, does that mean your luck has run out? Is your entire career based on the whims of fate?
I don’t think so. Whether you’re grinning in the sun or crying in the rain, your actions are what define you.
If you stay productive over a long period of time (years), good and bad things will happen. Your task as a creative is to continue to create through both. It sounds easy, but it’s hard.
So may luck shine down on you and when it doesn’t, create your own. People won’t know the difference.
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“Dangerous Compliments #1” © 2016 Dara Girard; Image copyright at top of post © 2016 by 3dfoto/123rf