- Glynis Rigsby: You Have to Accept That Failure is a Healthy Part of Success. Patrick Huey 48:02
We don’t talk a lot about failure. It’s an uncomfortable topic for most people. It doesn’t meld with the current vibe of the times. Today we celebrate the wunderkinds who seemingly materialize out of the ether and suddenly penetrate the global consciousness. Greta Thunberg who at 15 years old gained notice for her blunt speaking style to politicians and presidents on the topic of climate change. In 2019 she organized a global student strike called Fridays for Future to bring attention to the global climate crisis. Naomi Osaka the tennis phenom who at 23 won her first of four major tennis Grand Slam titles, famously felling tennis giant Serena Williams in 2018 on the way to her first major title in New York City of all places. Simone Biles, who at only 25 has been labeled the GOAT of Women’s Gymnastics, went to Tokyo (2020/21) to cement her greatness in Olympic Gold Medals, but instead lead the world in a conversation about mental health.
Enter Glynis Rigsby into the conversation. She is an Assistant Professor and BFA Program Director for the School of Drama at The New School College of Performing Arts. It’s a big title to match her big thoughts. One of the biggest of her thoughts that we discuss is the idea that we all live in real time, all the time. And part of that reality, in fact a necessary part of that reality is failure. She says, “You have to expect that failure is part of your process. And if you don’t expect that, you’re probably not in a very healthy or generative process.” If you ask Glynis, she will tell you that if you want to create successful work in any field, if you want to craft a compelling vision, those things come as the result of iterative drafting processes that refine you and your ideas through time and practice. She views her greatest contribution to the art and business of theater as the seeding of ideas into artists and creators of the future, or as she calls it the chain of creation. Ideas like failure, and context matters, and trusting your physical instincts.
The reality is, we don’t see the hours of flipping into pits that Simone Biles does during practice. Or the twisted ankles and jammed wrists. We don’t see the hours of hitting groundies, backhand slices and serves that Naomi Osaka executes daily. We don’t know what it must be like for Greta Thunberg to be in the firing line of a once sitting President of the United States for having the temerity to express a view counter to his.
We see the PR machine; we don’t see the sweat.
But as Glynis reminds us, you can’t have a vision for yourself, without a coherency of thought that is often born out of the 99 failures that will bring about the one success.
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