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Last week I wrote about the pain of discipline vs. the pain of regret or disappointment. I argued that fear and the willingness to sacrifice are often the two things that hold people back from pursuing art.
I urged you to find an inkling of faith (the antidote to fear), determine where you were willing to sacrifice, and pursue the art you want to pursue.
I’m writing this follow-up article before the first was published, but I anticipate some of the comments may be something like this:
“But what if I do exercise faith, make sacrifices, endure the pain of discipline and still fail? I will still have the pain of disappointment.”
First, let me say that it is true that there is no guarantee of success. You might sacrifice so much and not achieve what you want. I won’t deny that.
There are several things to consider, though.
1. There are different kinds of disappointment. There is the disappointment that comes with the regret of not doing. Then there is the disappointment that comes with trying, but not achieving what you want. For me, regret is a deeper wound than failing. Regret comes with the never answered question: “what if...?” I would rather try and fail than not try at all.
2. Although you may fall short of your goals, if you at least try you will be able to look back at what you did attain. You will have achieved something. You will have had the joy of creating art. You will have had the joy of getting a little better at your art. You may not end up where you want, but you will be further along than where you started. When viewed in this light, the disappointment will be less than the regret of not trying.
3. Art is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the journey.
4. The journey may take you down different roads than you ever imagined. You may not end up where you thought you would, but the ultimate destination might be even better.
5. Any experience in life enriches who you are.
6. You develop attributes through discipline and sacrifice that are not specific to art – some might include patience, endurance, tenacity, faith, humility, gratitude, money or time management, etc. These are byproducts.
7. And then there is the possibility that you might just attain everything you hoped for. How great would that be!
Let’s look back at that comment again. “But what if…I fail?” This is your fear talking. Let me turn it around, “But what if…you succeed?” Is it worth the gamble? Is it worth the sacrifice? Is it worth the discipline?
Again, I’ll admit – you just might fail. I might fail.
Even if you or I do, look at the list above. I came up with these 7 things in about 10 minutes. The first 6 of those 7 acknowledge that you might not get what you set out to get. You might “fail”. Even so, all of them are positive outcomes. And I am sure that there are others I didn’t list. So is it really a failure?
“But what if…you benefit in other ways?”
If you recognize the other benefits you will certainly gain, then is there really need to fear the pain of disappointment?
In a couple of weeks, we’ll discuss how to increase the likelihood of attaining #7.
In the meantime, what else would you add to the list?
Today's post is an updated version from a few years ago, but we're republishing it again today because it's still a timely and a very relevant message. Enjoy!
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The Pain of Discipline
The Two Plein Air Artists