One of my most favourite inspirational videos is a Ted Talk “Success, failure and the drive to keep creating” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Elizabeth Gilbert was once an “unpublished diner waitress,” devastated by rejection letters. And yet, in the wake of the success of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ she found herself identifying strongly with her former self. With beautiful insight, Gilbert reflects on why success can be as disorienting as failure and offers a simple — though hard — way to carry on, regardless of outcomes.
Three minutes into the video Elizabeth shares the following:
“But the weird thing is that 20 years later, during the crazy ride of “Eat, Pray, Love,” I found myself identifying all over again with that unpublished young diner waitress who I used to be, thinking about her constantly, and feeling like I was her again, which made no rational sense whatsoever because our lives could not have been more different. She had failed constantly. I had succeeded beyond my wildest expectation. We had nothing in common. Why did I suddenly feel like I was her all over again?
And it was only when I was trying to unthread that that I finally began to comprehend the strange and unlikely psychological connection in our lives between the way we experience great failure and the way we experience great success. So think of it like this: For most of your life, you live out your existence here in the middle of the chain of human experience where everything is normal and reassuring and regular, but failure catapults you abruptly way out over here into the blinding darkness of disappointment. Success catapults you just as abruptly but just as far way out over here into the equally blinding glare of fame and recognition and praise. And one of these fates is objectively seen by the world as bad, and the other one is objectively seen by the world as good, but your subconscious is completely incapable of discerning the difference between bad and good. The only thing that it is capable of feeling is the absolute value of this emotional equation, the exact distance that you have been flung from yourself. And there’s a real equal danger in both cases of getting lost out there in the hinterlands of the psyche.
But in both cases, it turns out that there is also the same remedy for self-restoration, and that is that you have got to find your way back home again as swiftly and smoothly as you can, and if you’re wondering what your home is, here’s a hint: Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. So that might be creativity, it might be family, it might be invention, adventure, faith, service, it might be raising corgis, I don’t know, your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.”
What I found so profound about this talk is that our fear for success can be as overwhelming as our fear of failure.
Even though you have found success in the past, you can still fear future success and even failure after achieving what you have set out to do. This video gives me the courage to continue to find my way home and to keep doing what I love. There is no bad! Only finding what you love and pursuing it will with singular devotion that the results become inconsequential.
I trust you found inspiration in this video too.