I'm having an awful work week. The kind that makes me feel like a talentless imposter who's finally being discovered for the hack that I am.
Actually, the inner voice of most creative people tells them that they suck at their vocation. Most of us learn to live with it without becoming alcoholics or spouse beaters.
Every now and then, though, that evil inner voice gets the upper hand. As it did with me this week. So when I found this list of failures from famous, off-the-chart talented people, I started to feel a little better.
Walt Disney - Fired from the Kansas City Star in 1919 because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."
JK Rowling - Rejected by dozens of companies, including Penguin and HarperCollins, until a small publisher in London took a chance on her work.
Oprah Winfrey - Fired as an evening news reporter of Baltimore's WJZ-TV because she couldn't separate her own emotions from her stories.
George Orwell - A publisher turned down his legendary novel, Animal Farm, with the words "It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA".
Jerry Seinfeld - Didn't find out he was cut from a minor role on a sitcom until he read the script and discovered his part missing.
Elvis Presley - After a performance in Nashville, he was told by a manager that he was better off driving trucks in Memphis (his former career).
Steve Jobs - Fired from the company he started, Apple, but was desperately brought back in 1997 to save the company. Apple is now the most valuable company in the world.
Stephen King - His first book, Carrie, was rejected thirty times. One quote was "we are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell."
Marilyn Monroe - At the start of her storied modeling and acting career, she was told she should consider becoming a secretary.
Abraham Lincoln - Demoted from Captain to Private during war, failed as a businessman, and lost several times as a political candidate before becoming President.
In a nutshell, people prefer conformists, the risk-averse, the status quo.
Sounds about right.
When I was freelancing, I regularly locked horns with one of my financial clients. It was a cataclysmic clash of cultures.
Creativity vs. the safe bet.
Innovation vs. what everyone else is doing.
Not accepting "it can't be done" vs. insubordination.
I haven't worked with this person for five years at least and just the thought of him makes my blood pressure spike. You know what calms me down? My suspicion that he probably gets a migraine every time he remembers working with me.
Luckily, I now work at an ad agency that genuinely values creativity.