Excuses, we have them for every occasion. There’s nothing interesting here. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I’m too busy. The weather is not right. I don’t like this light. I’m not good enough. I’m shy. It could go on for a page or more. Excuses are our way of letting ourselves off the hook when we are scared or don’t want to do something.
As a heads up, this is about the dreaded topic of marketing. In case you want to stop reading now. 🙂
Why make excuses
Excuses are a way of absolving ourselves of responsibility. We shift the blame to someone or something else. It lets us off the hook. We didn’t fail, it was “their” fault we couldn’t do it.
Have you done that? I sure have. We don’t want to feel bad about ourselves. After all, we have a self image to nurture. The problem is when we rely on excuses to not do anything.
A lot of times we make excuses because we are afraid of doing something. Contact that gallery? No, they wouldn’t want my work. Submit for that show? No, I’m not good enough.
Fear of failure keeps us trapped in our own prison. We build a cage of excuses around us to protect ourselves from failing. But we can become trapped in a cage of our own making.
But we’re thinking about it wrong. What we fear almost never happens and not achieving our objective is not the same as failing.
What we fear
I believe a lot of us artists are introverts. We shun confrontation and don’t like to be criticized. Even if we are not introverts most of us do not like these things. So we fear that if we put our self forward we might be rejected. People might even think bad of us.
Here’s what I am learning: we will be rejected, again and again, and no one really knows who you are or cares enough to think bad of you. That sounds harsh, but it should actually be somewhat comforting.
I apply for a show and my submissions are rejected. I don’t know why. They do not give a critique. Perhaps what I entered doesn’t appeal to the juror. Perhaps they had different styles in mind. Maybe the juror was in a bad mood at the time. I cannot know. But what they didn’t say was “you are a failure; I hate your work; you are not worthy of being an artist; don’t ever enter this event again”. No, it was just a rejection. Get over it and go on.
You know the old Yoda line “Do or do not. There is no try“. It is a great line, but kind of misleading. Like Luke in the scene with Yoda, if we do not believe we can do it, we are probably right. The reality is that for most things, trying is all we can do. We cannot always create the outcome we want as long as we are dependent on other people’s decisions.
Trying does not mean we doubt ourselves. It means we recognize that many of the attempts we make will not succeed. And we’re willing to live with that.
It’s the trying that we fall short on. We’re afraid so we never try. We get a rejection so we stop trying. Persistence is required in order to succeed.
As I have said before, “build it and they will come” doesn’t work. We have to let people know about ourselves and our work. This is called promotion. It is called marketing. That is not a bad word. It is what makes us recognized and successful.
Just do it
For years I had the attitude that I love doing art but I hate marketing. I am shy so I am not good at it. People will eventually recognize the worth of what I do.
Ain’t going to happen.
People are not out there waiting anxiously to “discover” me. They do not know I exist and don’t really care. I have to take definite and active steps to make them aware of me. It may take many attempts before they will take a serious look at my work and see something they like. This is called “marketing”. I now see it in a different light. Rather than being a distasteful thing I should do, but don’t, I see it as an exciting opportunity to promote myself and be recognized.
No more excuses.
The great Wayne Gretzky famously observed “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” You cannot succeed unless you try. I have finally internalized that. Just coming to believe that made it far less distasteful. Starting to do it and discovering that a rejection is not fatal and no one blacklists me for trying has made it far easier as I go along.
Try something. Act quick. Learn from your mistakes. Keep trying. Believe in yourself and never give up.
You haven’t failed unless you don’t try. Stop making excuses. Just do it.