When I tuned into my public radio station this morning, I broke into a smile when I discovered they were playing one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. I’m not alone in loving that music. Classical music stations report that listener surveys always list the Concertos as a top favorite.
Did you know that this glorious series began life as a huge disappointment?
They were written as an audition for a commission Bach hoped to get with the city of Brandenburg. Bach lost the competition, but no one seems to remember who the winner was nor what music was voted superior.
Bach, of course, is not the only creative soul whose work met with failure before success came along.
According to my calculation, Dame Judi Dench has appeared in more than 75 films. In her autobiography, And Furthermore, she says she thought her acting career would be exclusively on stage.
“I had come to the firm conclusion that I had no real future in the world of film,” she writes. “When I went for my first screen test, I walked in and they were perfectly nice to me.
“Then this man, having looked at me for a long time, said, ‘Well Miss Dench, I have to tell you that you have every single thing wrong with your face.’
“So I just very quietly got up and left. I thought there is no point in going on with this.”
While history is full of stories of early defeat that turned into astonishing success later on, there is no record of all the good ideas that got put away in a drawer after encountering a first rejection.
What project have you tucked away because it didn’t get off to a great beginning? There are all sorts of reasons why success doesn’t happen the first time out.
Maybe you were ahead of your time. Or, perhaps, you needed to get some experience that would help you find a bigger and better way of doing things.
Or you may have met with failure because you hadn’t yet connected with the proper person. Why not take another look?
While I’ve never learned to love rejection, I have a calmer perspective since encountering some brilliant advice from Barbara Kingsolver. Although it’s aimed at writers, it’s equally appropriate to anyone going after a dream.
Kingsolver says, “Don’t consider your returned manuscript rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it, ‘To the editor who can appreciate my work,’ and it simply came back stamped, ‘Not at the address.’ Just keep looking for the right address.”
You might want to memorize that.