"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES."
That, my friends, is from (of all things) a Nike ad. I wanted to share it with you because, regardless of its context, it's a very powerful message — and it rings particularly true in the creative arts industry. Something I deal with on a regular basis with my coaching clients is how to handle the constant onslaught of rejection, because, let's face it — the industry traffics in NO's. In fact, it's such a steady stream of NO's that it can seem like YES's just don't even exist in that world.
A rational person could look at it pragmatically and chalk it up to the time-worn idea of Supply-And-Demand. There are simply more creative people out there than there are viable projects (which is obvious if you've ever been to a casting call). And, quite frankly, it's important to understand this reality when making the decision to pursue a career in the arts — the odds are against you. This is why most parents frown upon hearing the words, "I want to be a [musician/actor/writer/etc.]." There's no guarantee of success.
But, let's say that you've accepted that reality. And everything within you tells you that you can't NOT be a [musician/actor/writer/etc.]; everything within you tells you that if you play it safe, you'll regret it for the rest of your life. Okay, now we're talking. This is exactly what you need to push forward — you've got passion; you've got determination; and you're ready to handle all of the trials and tribulations that come with this decision. Time to kick some ass!
Except...wait a minute here. You knew there were going to be a lot of NO's, but come on. How much can one person be expected to take? I mean, it's A LOT of rejection. So, maybe they're saying NO because you're just not that good, right? Maybe they're on to something. Maybe it's time to take a good, hard look at this whole endeavor and consider some other options. You've heard that people are making a lot of money in app development and maybe that's an easier road to take...regardless of the fact that you have ZERO aptitude for technology. Because, honestly, anything would be easier than this.
First: That's your Inner Critic talking. Second: They know not of what they speak.
Look, this is not a career choice for the faint of heart. If you only want to hear YES from others, then you need to do something else. However, there is one person that you need to hear YES from on a consistent basis, and that person is you. In fact, it's your absolute responsibility to yourself to say YES day in and day out, because no one else is going to do it for you. One thing I've found that separates those who are ultimately successful in this industry from those who are stuck is the ability to let all of those NO's strengthen their YES's — they take in rejection and process it in a way that says: "I'm going to show you that you're wrong." And, look, as you well know, it could take weeks, months, or years to make good on such a promise. But if you absolutely MUST do what you're doing, then you owe it to yourself to keep saying YES, no matter how long it takes.
One final thing. I know that we all falter along the way. We're human, after all. And when that happens, it's important to take action against it rather then letting it fester and get the best of you. So what can you do when you're feeling the NO's taking over? Of course, you can always book a coaching session with me — this is something I have a lot of experience with and we can work on climbing out of this valley together. Outside of that, try for some inspiration. The video above of JK Rowling talking about the benefits of failure is always a great way to look at the bigger picture — it never gets old. Another way is to put yourself in a more powerful state of mind with "Power Posing," which Amy Cuddy describes in her Ted Talk below as physical posturing that can have a powerful, positive effect on your overall mental/emotional state. It's good stuff!
Just remember that, no matter how many NO's you hear...no matter how often you hear them...YOU WILL TELL THEM YES.