Did this ever run through your mind when you were misunderstood, under-appreciated, or limited in some way? My mother banked on my spunk. She used reverse psychology to teach me to ride my bike. She bet I couldn’t do it, and I determined to prove her wrong.
Steve Jobs said being fired from Apple was ultimately a good thing. In the midst of that humiliation he realized he still loved his work and wanted to continue anyway.
Earlier in my career I turned in art for a book and the contract was subsequently canceled. The news hit me like a punch in the stomach. I curled in pain. I was so ashamed. Surely everyone in the industry knew about my rejection, I thought. I imagined a scarlet letter across my chest.
There were scrooges involved. I believe this only could have progressed to this point from lack of communication. It has always been my practice to show sample art and work-in-progress. At no point did the art director or editor alert me that they were unhappy. I received comments like, “Add more yellow.”
I was filled with self-doubt after this experience. Who would hire me again? I desperately wanted to get back up on the horse. My next opportunity came like a gift from a fairy godmother. I approached the project in a completely different style and the book garnered three stars, an ALA notable award, and many other accolades. Sound familiar, Stephanie? Yep, the book that brought me back was Elizabeti’s Doll. I am forever grateful to our editor, Liz Szabla.
There is value in disappointment. It helps define weakness, focus attention, and clarify desire.
“One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.”—Henry Ward Beecher