Friday, July 31, 2015

Failing 101: How Not To Succeed in Life

I originally wrote this back in 2010, but judging by some of the discussions I've seen among so many writers out there, it still rings true. 


Once there was an architect who set out to design the perfect building, one that would leave everyone in awe.

When a rich developer heard about the architect's dream, he wanted to be part of it, so he funded the project, telling the architect not to spare any expense.

The architect went to work. He drew. He designed. He configured. Finally, he emerged from his office with the blueprint of what he believed was the most beautiful tower in the history of mankind, one that would leave everyone awestruck.

But when he took his plans to the developer, the developer grimaced and said, "This is good. But I don't like this archway."

With a disappointed sigh, the architect returned to his drawing board and adjusted the blueprint to please the developer.

When he showed the revision to the developer, the developer exclaimed, "I love it!"

The developer's wife, who was standing nearby, agreed. "I love it, too! But I'm not fond of the shape of this window. Can you change it?"

The architect was skeptical of her suggestion, but he returned to his drawing board and changed the shape of the window. After all, it wouldn't be the perfect building if someone didn't like it.

When the architect returned with the second revision, the developer and his wife praised the design.

But when the foreman of the construction crew saw it, he said, "This doorway is all wrong. It needs to be changed."

So once again the architect returned to the drawing board and fixed the design.

Soon, construction on the tower began. Many onlookers marveled. Others weren't so thrilled.

Some complained the angles were too sharp.

Some complained about the color of the bricks.

Some simply complained that they didn't like the cornerstone.

And each time the architect heard another complaint, he ran back to his office and fixed it. After all, it wouldn't be the perfect building if someone didn't like it.

Then one day-- in the shadow of this half-built tower -- the developer and the architect began arguing. Even though the developer had said to spare no expense, he hadn't expected the all of the changes, and they were becoming costly.

Hearing the argument, the developer's wife approached and offered her two cents. Then the construction foreman got involved. So did several of the onlookers who had already expressed their opinions of the building.

Suddenly, a loud crack split the air around them. The red beams that framed the building began to pull apart, and the tower collapsed, crushing the architect, the developer, his wife, the construction foreman and everyone else who had stood beneath.

They all died. The project went unfinished. The perfect building was never built.

What does this have to do with being a writer?

Self-doubt is the child of perfectionism and the desire to please everyone. It can kill dreams before they have a chance to become reality.

When you're offered advice on a project, take time to gauge whether or not a change is necessary. After all, you can't please everyone.

* * *
Kathryn Harris is a journalist, a weekend blogger, a wife, a mother of two and the author of "The Long Road to Heaven," a novel about finding faith and forgiveness in the aftermath of addiction.  

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