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Winners are Made

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Enjoy this turkey flower vase that I made for an article for the fall 2018 issue of Glass Patterns Quarterly.

Turkeys aren’t known for their intelligence, so we have to cut them some slack.

The other day I saw a bunch of wild turkeys. Five birds were in an open field busily and happily pecking the ground eating seeds and bugs, or whatever wild turkeys find appetizing. The group gradually moved further away, across the field.

At the same time, two other members of the flock stood several feet away from the five birds. The two stray birds were behaving erratically and in obvious distress. They paced back and forth. With wide eyes, they stretched their heads up and tossed them left then right in a frantic manner. They weren’t eating and building strength like the other birds. Instead, they wasted a lot of energy without making any progress. They weren’t moving forward or going anywhere. It was mid-day, sunny and Florida hot. And yet they desperately stomped back and forth at the expense of their own wellbeing.

Then I saw the problem. A wire fence separated the two stray birds from the flock. All they had to do was fly over the fence to be reunited with the flock and resume foraging for food. It was totally within their power to be happy and move on. But they didn’t. They struggled in vain. They stayed in an uncomfortable and unproductive situation. Why?

Change is scary. Even if you’re in an unpleasant situation you know what to expect there. It’s safe even though it’s painful. Complaining is easy. Action takes balls!

Winners aren’t immune to fear. They channel it. Us it. And above all, refuse to let it cripple them or stop them from trying. Winners don’t live for the glory of the finish line. They live for the challenge to become better than they currently are.

There have been many times in my artistic career that it would have been easier to give up on a dream than drive forward. When I wanted to publish my first book, I was met with a lot of resistance. The big names in publishing had never heard of me. Bear in mind, art glass is a small cottage industry. There were only a few publishers. I was just another tiny, independent studio owner with no real credentials. My proposals for a design book were rejected due to my, “artistic immaturity.” But I didn’t give up. I joined art glass community groups to better understand the industry’s expectations, needs and desires. I researched how things were done so I could learn to present valuable and relevant material.

I learned the secret to getting work into magazines was to do exceptional glasswork. And the trick to getting on the coveted cover was to have the installation photos taken by a professional photographer. When it came to the cover art, a quality, well-lit high resolution image was more valuable to the managing editor than a strong article.

Obstacles equally as daunting and insurmountable as the wire fence blocked my path. At times, I struggled as pathetically as the turkeys to make progress even though clear solutions were obvious. But you have to trust your own process and believe you’ll find your way. I went on to publish 14 design books and I continue to write for trade magazines as well as other mainstream venues.

Today, in addition to maintaining my glass interests, I’m pursuing creative writing opportunities. I continue to struggle with self-doubt, time management and finding the right place for my stories. I still get rejections and they still sting. But if you’re not getting rejections in the publishing industry, you’re not trying. You’re not putting yourself out there and nothing will change. Rejection is just another obstacle to overcome.

Whatever your new interest or direction may be, go boldly. Expect challenges, obstacles and rejection. Instead of letting your difficulties slow you down, think of them as evidence of your resilience and proof you’re still trying to be better than you currently are. That’s powerful incentive to overcome anything that gets in your way.

Exhausted and barely able to get off the ground, the turkeys eventually flew over the fence and were reunited with the flock. Even dumb birds figured out it was better to fight for their freedom than wither and die from static indifference.

Don’t be a turkey.

You’re a winner!






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