You Make It Look Easy

Beginner’s luck is defined as “unexpected success for someone who has taken up a new pursuit,” and we have all experienced it. For example, the first article I wrote after quitting my job to become a freelance writer was picked up immediately. The second article landed on the front page, and was quickly acquired for reprint by a regional magazine. Hey, this is easy, I thought. And I was hooked.

The same thing happened again with my first short story. It was picked up, despite being poorly written. Granted, I had sent it to a little-known magazine probably desperate for submissions, but that didn’t matter. I was convinced I must be a good short story writer. The next four stories I wrote, though, remain unpublished to this day, and for good reason. They were even worse than the first.

Beginner’s luck even applies to the business side of art. Say you decide to sell your paintings in galleries. Maybe the first owner takes one eagerly. This is easy, you think. But the next several galleries turn you down. Are you truly a good painter, or was your sale just beginner’s luck? You go to ten more galleries to find out.

Here’s what I think . . . I think this particular phenomenon is the universe’s way of coaxing us into trying something new. It provides us an opportunity to gain just enough confidence to believe we could really do this. It offers a taste of the high that comes with success in order to get us hooked. It puts the right people in our path to say exactly the right things to make us believe. And once we believe, we are captivated. This is suddenly all we want to do.

And that little taste of success lingers. It continues to tempt us no matter how many disappointments we encounter. We long to recreate our initial triumph. We ache to feel once again that we are worthy.

And that’s all good, because that longing pulls us forward. Ideally it spurs us to learn more, to try harder, and to work with more care and diligence. And it tests our willingness to stick with something. If we never experience beginner’s luck, we are more likely to quit too soon.

So take a chance, and if you succeed wildly, don’t just write it off as beginner’s luck and move on. Consider that maybe that early fortune is leading you toward what you are meant to do.

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