Failure and the Importance of Tenacity

Workshop room

Image via Wikipedia

“As I’ve said, you will fail.  At least I hope so, because it’s a foregone conclusion if you’re really living, really reaching.  … With the right attitude, you can transform any setback into a guide for growth.” – Jillian Michaels

“I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Alva Edison

Over the past few months, most of my artistic energy has gone into creating and test-teaching three brand new workshops.  When I took this on, I had no idea how exhausting or all-consuming of my creative and free time it might become.  Because of my commitment to excellence and giving a great experience to my students from the start, it did become a bit all-consuming.   It has been worth it so I can develop and improve the curriculum so it can be fun and understandable, starting with the very first class.

In addition to the creation of the actual curriculum, I needed to obtain supplies necessary to run the workshops, plus create and establish the marketing for each class.  Getting materials involved hunting down sales at art and crafts supply stores, asking friends if I could borrow or use their items (easels, white boards),  running “wanted” ads on Freecycle and haunting Craig’s List‘s free section.

Don't let failure eat you for breakfast. You are too crunchy and don't taste good with milk. (Untitled, unedited digital photograph, copyright 2010 Amy Buchheit All Rights Reserved.)

Marketing was equally labor intensive.  Creating and implementing a good  marketing strategy always takes hours upon hours to complete; from writing and editing text, to preparing images, to submitting or posting the ads, to pointing people toward those ads and then reminding them to register.  It is a lengthy process.

I have not been in the studio to create new art these past few months because I underestimated the time involved in creating these new workshops.  Believe it or not, I’m alright with that.  Why? Because I know this is the start of something bigger than myself. The possibility of assisting even one person who was afraid to express themselves go beyond the (major!) milestone of registering for a class, to a place where they get that they, too, are creative beings.  That is the idea that lights me up and keeps me going.

The time for my first class rolled around about a month and a half ago.  I was frankly feeling ill prepared and terrified –  but somewhat excited at the same time.  The day before the class was to start, I called in to the venue who was sponsoring the workshop to find out how many students I had to prepare for.  The answer was two.  The minimum registration to run the workshop was three.  FAIL.

I didn’t have time to worry much about the fact that my acrylic painting workshop did not take off.  The venue and I decided to reschedule the class for a May 18th start date.  After completing my business taxes (a grueling weeks-long affair for me at this stage), I dove into the creation of my next workshop on Vision Boards.

My dog Colby FAILing to love the ocean. (Beach, yes, ocean, no.) Copyright 2007 Amy Buchheit All Rights Reserved.

Though of course I put an equal amount of energy into creating a great workshop for the Vision Boards, it was much more fun during the test run and I felt pretty confident by the few days before the start date.  The class was meant to run this past Saturday, April 30th.  I called two days ahead … and only one person had registered.  (The required minimum was three.)  In the end, the class was flat out canceled, without being rescheduled at this venue.  FAIL.

As an independent contractor, I do not get paid for my time to develop these workshops.  I get paid for actually running them and hopefully, in the process, make enough money over time to pay myself back for development time.  So until these workshops successfully run multiple times, I have 100+ hours of research and development that have not produced any monetary result.  FAIL.

So with all of this failure, why not throw in the towel?  For me, here’s why:  I know the importance of tenacity in the face of receiving no agreement.

Stand up for your dreams and hold on tight. Don't let them die! ("R.I.P.", film photography, copyright 1999 Amy Buchheit All Rights Reserved.)

I would not be an artist today if I had waited around for friends and family to pat me on the back and tell me it was a good idea.  I had to take a stand for myself, plant my flag and say, “This shall be”.  I wasn’t sure how it would happen, but I  made a commitment and stuck with it until it became a reality.  Here I am, fourteen years later, as an exhibiting (and teaching!) mid-career professional artist.  Was it challenging?  Yes.  Sometimes even tough?  Oh, yes.  But was it worth it?  Like you cannot believe.  🙂

Doing anything of importance takes a drive, commitment and… here’s that word again … tenacity.  To be honest, it kind of sucks that my first few workshops didn’t fly.  I spent a lot of time on them, and was anticipating their debut.  On the other hand, it’s a good thing because it gives me more time to make sure that they are the best that they can be before they burst out on the scene.

I was momentarily a bit down after finding out the Vision Boards class was flat out canceled, without being rescheduled.  However, there are plenty of locations I could teach this at, several of them better suited for this particular material.  I am already pursuing venues that are a better fit, and am now offering the Vision Boards workshop as an at-home workshop event where people can learn how to create them in the comfort of their own home, amongst supportive family and friends.  Note:  Had I not failed – the in-home idea likely would not have come to me.  

If this doesn't exemplify the spirit of tenacity, what does? "Tenacity" by Mark Robinson. Find under "me'nthedogs" on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66176388@N00/

So what’s next on the tenacity train?  I have 10 days to develop the final workshop, “How to Exhibit Your Art”.  So far, no one has registered.  Do you think I’m going to give up, throw my hands up and throw in the towel?  NO.  I have a deadline to meet, a commitment to fulfill and I will be prepared.  If the workshop flies the first time it spreads its wings in the nest, hooray!  If it needs time to strengthen its muscles before it takes the leap into being taught, that is completely honorable and understandable.  Either way, it *will* leave the nest and take flight.

Now for the good news:  Tenacity is paying off.   Remember the painting class that was rescheduled to start May 18th?  We now have enough students registered, with an additional sixteen days left for folks to sign up.  It is definitely a go.  Come join us!

The moral of this tale is … if you believe in something, do it.  Leap at every opportunity and grab it by the tail.  Be doggedly tenacious in your pursuit while allowing it to happen as it is supposed to.  And don’t be afraid to fail, Fail, FAIL.  If you allow yourself to fail and just keep going, good things are bound to come of it.

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Sir Winston Churchill

© Amy Buchheit 2011 All Rights Reserved

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About Amy Buchheit

I am a Signature Member of the International Society of Acrylic Painters and an Ambassador for Artist Trust. I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Marylhurst University and have exhibited on regional, national and international levels since 2000. I am committed to connecting with the viewer through my work - stirring buried emotions to the surface for further inspection and introspection. The inspiration for my art comes from direct observations, research of subjects I am passionate about and personal experiences. For more information about my art, workshops and exhibitions, visit my website at http://www.amybuchheit.com. My blog "Fantastic Voyage" can be found at http://www.amybuchheit.wordpress.com, and I can be found on Facebook under Amy Buchheit Art and on Twitter as @AmyBuchheit.
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4 Responses to Failure and the Importance of Tenacity

  1. Patrick Ross says:

    Amy, I so admire your tenacity here. I’m going to use this to inspire me. I’ve had a similar experience lately with article queries going nowhere, and have actually chosen not to pursue teaching local workshops right now because of a fear of time-consuming prep for an event that wouldn’t happen. I’m not feeling particularly tenacious right now (although I did fire off another query about two hours ago).

    Good luck with the class that is off the ground!

    • Amy Buchheit says:

      Thank you, Patrick! 🙂

      Of course, you have your family to consider in your journey, and honoring them is as important as honoring your dream. Perhaps you won’t take on developing three workshops at once (nor will I, likely, ever again) … but if it is something you are interested in, I encourage you to simply start, and allow it to unfold as it is supposed to.

      Although the preparation stage is happening in a frenzy, I have been talking about/exploring the possibility of teaching art workshops to adults for the past seven or eight years. It wasn’t the right time, until now. When the time was right, the opportunities presented themselves and BAM! I took them. But it was a long path of exploration and consideration to get here.

      You are awesome Patrick! You will find the right fit for you. The things you are committed to will happen … provided you *allow* it to happen and don’t give up along the way. (I don’t see that happening. I am sending vibes/jous-jous of tenacity and strength your way. 🙂 )

  2. Paul Thomas says:

    As a photographer, I needed exclusive ownership of my work. After some extensive research I found out about this firm called Levy, Levy & Sosa in Miami. I decided to set up a consultation to meet with their attorney and I’m sure glad I did. They assisted me with applying for copyright registration, the process was so simple and they guided me along the way, explaining in ways that were easy to understand. I encourage you to contact them on 1-800-464-5554 or visit their website http://www.trademarklaw101.com/practice-areas/copyright/ to secure your work!

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