Sometimes, someone says something that’s worth reflecting on. Author Neil Gaiman often says something that’s worth reflecting on. Neil is the author of lots of wonderful books, including Stardust and American Gods, as well as the amazingly evocative, spooky and thoughtful Sandman comic books.
I’m particularly fond of The Graveyard Book (from which todays quote comes – this may in fact be my favourite quote ever) and I also loved his address to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.. worth reading the whole thing.. but here’s what I took away from it…
First of all: When you start out you have no idea what you are doing. Don’t let that be an excuse for not starting. As Morpheus observed of Neo in ‘The Matrix’:
“Everyone falls the first time. If you never know failure, how can you know success?”
But get going. Make things happen. Some of them will work. Do more of that. Some of them won’t. Learn from those.
Secondly, If you have an idea of what you want to achieve, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that. Don’t deny the call in your soul. Don’t say ‘I couldn’t possibly do that’ or ‘no-one can make money from that’. You’re going to be miserable unless you give free reign to the call of your inner truth.
Thirdly, you’re going to have to deal with the problems of failure. Get used to it. Even when you’ve got experience, you’re going to fail sometimes. But now they’re not beginner’s error. They are real up front slap bang ‘should have known better’ and ‘I feel stupid’ failures. Deal with it. Dust off your pride. Move on.
Fourthly, I hope you’ll make mistakes. Welcome them. Value them. Learn from them. Use them. Remember Post It Notes? That came out of a project that was a huge failure. They invented an apparently useless non stick sticky glue. Yet someone saw the possibility of a non-sticky glue and made 3m a fortune. The history books are littered with things that worked out but that started out in abject failure. Take heart. Sometimes your failures are your greatest successes.
Fifthly, while you are at it, do your thing. Do the stuff that only you can do. We don’t want another version of someone else. We want you. YOU. Uniquely, wonderfully, powerfully you. Only you can bring your unique gift to the party – and the universe is waiting with bated breath for you to do it.
Sixthly. Stuff happens. Serendipity brings things together. Surprises will surprise you. Watch out for them. There is a huge amount of magic going on in the world. I agree with whoever said
“A coincidence is a small miracle in which God chooses to remain anonymous”
Pay attention. That song, that movie, that poster, that person you sit next to on the bus, the world is full of coincidences. Learn to spot them.
Seventhly. Make up your own rules. You think there’s a rule book for life. You think there’s some cosmic Santa Claus checking his list? As Neale Donald Walsch records God as saying to him in “Conversations with God”
“There’s only what works and what doesn’t, given what you are trying to achieve”
The greatest things that got done got done by people who decided to ignore the rule book and do it differently. I love this from DiscWorld:
Tiffany: “I thought there were rules?”
Granny Weatherwax “Oh? Really? Did you sign anything? Did you take any kind of oath? No? Then they weren’t your rules.”
The last word goes to Neil:
“And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes.
Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.”
For Neil’s full address to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia – go HERE