Someone once said that 99% of success consists of failure. How can you keep your self-confidence when almost everything you produce seems to be crap?
Good ideas, bad ideas – what´s the difference?
Personally I think that it is more than 99%, but I guess that depends on how you define success. The point is that creativity and failure is the same thing, the only thing that separates them is the value they have with regard to the user in a specific context.
Quantity breeds quality
To come up with good ideas you have to wander through piles crappy ideas. When you are standing there with shit up to your knees, it is easy to lose the belief in yourself. Even though you know that it takes quantity to produce quality, your gut feeling isn’t good. But it is what it is; the bad ideas are as important as the good ones. Because it is the reasoning behind the bad ones that makes you come up with the good ones.
Half ready solutions
The Swedish copywriter Per Robert Öhlin once wrote that there are no such things as bad ideas, only half ready solutions. If you create with that view of the process, it is much easier to keep your self-confidence intact and see opportunities instead of limitations.
The first line of the next chapter
Ernest Hemmingway knew how to look at his creative process this way when working on his books. Hemmingway’s used to write the first line of the next chapter before he went to bed every night since he knew how hard it would be to start from scratch the coming day. It is the same way with looking at ideas as half made solutions. Because doing so means that you have already started on the next chapter and have something to build upon instead of a wall to climb over the next day.
Edison understood how to protect his self-confidence
Thomas Edison, owner of over 1100 patents, also had this view. Perhaps more than anyone else. He was once asked by a reporter if he felt like he had failed and would give up. Thomas Edisons answer is classic:
"Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp."
It took Edison over 10 000 attempts to invent the light bulb, but he did it. Through self-confidence, determination and focus Thomas Edison combined 10 000 half made solutions and put the insight of every failure into one invention that became a success. Ideas generate ideas. He would probably not have invented the light bulb if he hadn’t walked through all his failures, because at the end of the day they were all part of the final idea. And to have that long-term view and stubbornness takes self-confidence.