Sunday, February 23, 2014

Kate Messner: The Spectacular Power of Failure

Kate Messner is the award-winning author of  over 20 books for young readers.

Kate says there's great pressure when you decide to give a talk on failure. Especially when you create a folder and document called FAILURE. Given the giggles she is receiving from this crowd, I don't think she needs to worry.

In 2012, Kate was invited to give a TED and she learned several lessons from that experience.

Lesson #1
Be Brave!
But it's okay to be afraid.

If you're not nervous, it's not worth doing.

There is a kind of fear we feel when we push the limits past our own boundaries, the ones that feel safe.

"You can’t have brave without scared." ~HOUND DOG TRUE by Linda Urban 

When Kate is scared, she's given an opportunity to be brave.

Lesson #2
Never underestimate the power of failure.

As writers and illustrators we set all sorts of bars for ourselves with the statement: "If I could just…"

If we keep moving the bar, we can turn anything into a failure. We cheat ourselves of our many successes. 

What small successes have you had lately? Celebrate them!

"You have to fall if you want to fly."

Athletes know they fall when they train and eventually they will get it and move on to a new challenge. It would be good for us to adopt some of these philosophies as writers and illustrators. 

"It's in doing the work, in writing the words every day...that my best work emerges."

It's important to use feedback to help us grow and not let it stop us. 

The Spectacular Power of Failure:
~Failure tells us that we're going in the right direction.
~Failure teaches us to ask for help.
~Failure brings us together as a community of writers.
~Failure teaches us to celebrate the dance. 
~Failure lets us be role models.

"A ship in harbor is safe. But that is not what ships are built for." ~John A. Shedd


  1. One of the best keynotes ever. The immediate take away I want to start using right now is to celebrate every little success along the way. When we have our small successes, it is so easy to get caught in "If only..." or "I wish instead..." kinds of thinking. In the process we lose those precious moments that are more important than anything else.

    1. I totally agree Michael. This was definitely one of the best keynotes I've ever heard. If we aren't careful, missing those precious moments will be what we lament most late in life. I am very grateful to Kate Messner for this talk.

  2. Make sure to check out Kate's post about her keynote at her blog - it includes links and a sing-along celebration for when you finish your work today!

    1. Will do. I actually already jam to Aretha! Great blog post. Thx

    2. Will do. I actually already jam to Aretha! Great blog post. Thx

  3. Appreciating the link - expect to visit there later.