“If you were to take into account everyone else’s feedback or ideas in the creation of your art, it would look like crap.” – Benjamin Rollins Caldwell
How quick are you to reject your own ideas in the face of criticism? Do you follow other people’s advice before your own intuition? When you are making choices about pursuing the things you are passionate about, are you comparing yourself to others? What Benjamin is emphasizing is that when we dilute our creative endeavors by not following our vision, the power, beauty, and insight of our originality is lost.
Benjamin Rollins Caldwell designs furniture. Now this isn’t your run of the mill couch and futons for your Sunday bridge party. His designs make statements; they are eccentric, bold, outlandish, and incredibly innovative. Most importantly though, they are authentic creations. Benjamin has found his aliveness in making furniture and he has dedicated himself to succeeding at it.
In a recent phone conversation, he shared his story of how about two years ago he was very unhappy with his job. Wanting something more fulfilling for his life, he decided to quit, even though he didn’t know what he was going to do next. While unemployed for almost a year he felt very uninspired, frustrated, and anxious, especially when he compared himself to some of his friends who had achieved success in their ventures.
While furnishing his new home thinking about what to do next, he found himself continually drawn towards furniture design and began making some of his own furniture. He enjoyed the designing process so much that he came to a place where he was willing to make a life-changing decision: he was going to pursue this new passion. He didn’t know where it would take him or if he would succeed, but he decided to follow his inner guidance. He stepped into his creativity and started his own furniture design firm, BRC Designs. After only two years he has made tremendous progress in gaining a reputation for innovative contemporary furniture design.
He explained that this work allows him to be completely honest and true to himself. He shared that when you put yourself out there with such honesty to your vision, you are often going to receive a fair share of negative reactions. He has learned to dismiss 97% of feedback and only selectively pay attention to 3%. Benjamin explained that “If everyone likes a piece of furniture I make, it’s not a successful piece.” The message I take from this is that if you are really honest in following your aliveness, you will inevitably receive a fair share of criticism. But the good news is, as Benjamin has shown through his success, that criticism can be a helpful indication you are actually on the right track of pursuing your creativity.
What is it that you are passionate about that you have been neglecting? Have you been telling yourself that you will never succeed at it? Have you been comparing yourself to others, wondering why you haven’t achieved the same progress you would like in your own life? Ask yourself this key question: “how great would it feel if I was able to spend my days doing exactly what I wanted to do?”
Accomplishing your life’s ambition comes through connecting with your aliveness and committing to pursue it. Go against the flow. Be eccentric. Follow your voice within. Rally your supporters. Pursue your dream.