WHAT DID YOU FAIL AT THIS WEEK? A REPRISE, by Art Smukler, author & Psychiatrist

I wish someone had asked me that when I was a child, and I had asked the same question to my children.

This is now third-hand, but who cares? Good information should be passed along. 

Fareed Zakaria, the brilliant educator and commentator, shared some details of an interview he had with Sara Blakely, the self-made billionaire developer of Spanx, a must-have underwear for women. 

Ms. Blakely attributed her success to her father. Once a week he would ask, “What did you fail at this week?”

“Daddy, why do you keep asking that? I didn’t fail at anything!” Sara said, a puzzled expression on her face.

“I want you to live up to your full potential. If you only try safe things and are afraid to fail, how can you grow and improve?”

So one day, Sara told her father about something that she tried and how miserably she failed. Her father beamed with pleasure, raised his hand and hi-fived his lovely daughter. “I’m so proud of you!” he said. “So very, very proud.”

This lesson applies to all of us, no matter how old, or how jaded we’ve become. Trying new things and risking failure to follow a dream is sure to entail periods of anguish.

Writers are especially vulnerable. Sitting alone staring at your Apple screen, as wisps of ideas make their way from the darkened recesses of your pre-conscious mind, is a unique task and leaves one vulnerable and disquieted. There are no cheerleaders or decibel-shattering student sections to urge you on when you find the right word or idea. You are a cheering section of one.

The chances of success may at times seem dim and foolish, but four times a month you get to ask yourself the question, “What have I failed at this week?”

If you try something new, something daring, by my standards, that is a raging success!

SILENCE AND CREATIVITY. CAN YOU FEEL IT? by Art Smukler, author & Psychiatrist

When was the last time you got in your car and drove in silence?

No radio. No Pandora. No talk show. No streaming.

A while right?

It’s become a built in habit. Put the car in gear and click on the tunes.

So what happens when you drive in silence?

It just so happens that a lot happens. All those feelings and thoughts that are lying somewhere in our minds, below the surface of conscious thought, begin to surface. Old memories. An interaction with a friend that you haven’t thought about in years. Forgotten lovers. Forgotten enemies.

These are the building blocks of a next novel, or a work of art, or a song. Often, the creative process is just lying in wait within us. That’s how THE REAL STORY, a mystery started. A patient and a girl that I hadn’t thought about in years. The unconscious holds a wealth of information and passionate feelings. The more you free your mind to ALL thoughts and feelings, the more creative you can be.

So…turn off the radio and listen to yourself.

On the other hand, I really do like to listen to jazz.

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll compromise?

Take a comfortable chair in my bookstore, close your eyes, and let your mind wander. Coffee’s on me.

Any thoughts or ideas. Please feel free to share.