The Silver Lining Syndrome

 A few years ago, when I first started selling my book on Writing the Artist Statement the shopping cart installed on my website malfunctioned.

Now, mind you, I didn’t know this at the time. I just thought no one was buying my book. Since I’m always into the next project on my inner to-do list, I pretty much let it go at that.

Far be it from me to force anyone to buy my book! [Which, in those early days, meant I equated selling used cars to book selling, and wasn’t about to get my hands “dirty.”]

Then something unremarkable happened…an artist emailed to tell me that he was having trouble buying my book off my website.

When small things snowball

Not only was I squeamish about selling something I’d created (sound familiar?), I was equally squeamish about going into the administrative area of the shopping cart and poking around. The back-end of anything online simply confused me, and I’d spend hours trying to navigate the most streamlined pages.

But it was a good thing I did. There were 20 artists who had tried to buy my book and were rejected by the shopping cart. Obviously things were not copasetic in Denmark! And, to my dismay, the cart never let me know. This had been going on for over 3 weeks.

Seriously embarrassed, I immediately sent out an apology email to all 20 customers (one at a time, since I had no idea about autoresponders, or lists, or really much of anything!) All I knew is that a miscarriage of online justice needed to be set right.

Then something remarkable happened

Almost everyone had found another way to get my book, but the husband of one artist immediately emailed me and asked: what else can you do to help my artist wife sell her art?

I laid out a basic coaching package (heck, I didn’t even know what a coach was back then!), and the next thing I knew, they put me on a year-long retainer and the rest is art-career coaching history.

This was my conversion to the Silver Lining theory: behind every cloud, there is a Silver Lining. The key to this theory is every.

Am I really so naive?

It’s true that you can’t keep me down long, no matter what the circumstances (and I’ve been thru some doozies!), and that you can deadpan me into believing almost anything for at least 30 seconds.

But at my core, I believe in the reality of my own experience.

So the researcher in me decided to test out the Silver Lining theory. (Getting a doctorate really cements this natural tendency!) 

Pretending is prelude

Immediately, I realized that I had to send my skeptical self out of the room, or she’d cloud the results. In order to find out, I had to pretend that I believed all bad things were really good things in disguise.

I also understood that I had to give any event in my life time to reveal the Silver Lining. To do this, I had to pretend that time did not exist relative to good events showing up at the party of my life.

Fast forward six years later

I don’t have time or space to list the hundreds of Silver Linings that I discovered with this simple approach. The smARTist Telesummit alone holds at least 100 incidents where I thought everything was going to hell in a hand basket, and instead gave me roses.

The key turned out to be pretending that I believed. That set me up to actually notice the Silver Linings. And slowly I understood that many, many Silver Linings slip behind our screen of disbelief unnoticed. 

Tinkerbell does not have to die

Now here we all are, with everyone and everything around us screaming that the world is going to hell in a hand basket and we can’t save Tinkerbell just by believing. (Well, until today, when the Dow rebounded with the biggest gain in its history.)

Are you going to buy what they are selling?

Or is it just possible there is a Silver Lining here, waiting for you to notice?

9 Responses to “The Silver Lining Syndrome”

  1. Lori Landis says:

    Hurray for you! I too am not going to hear the negativity, even though many galleries and artists are throwing their hands up in the air. We have to hold our dreams and thoughts up to the sky. One thing that I’m doing positive is being very slow to respond instead of being instantaneous. I am thinking very carefully.

  2. Ariane Goodwin says:

    It’s truly hard not to listen when panic is in the air. That’s why I like to first acknowledge the dark cloud. It’s there. It has some level of reality to it. Next, I like to look at what I do with that dark cloud: make it darker? Bigger? Or remind myself that it is only one part of a bigger picture. And I am part of that bigger picture and not just tied to the cloud.

    Slowing down is a fabulous way to keep the hair trigger reactions to a minimum. It gives you time to allow the Big Picture to come into view. Good for you!

  3. Beth Barany says:

    I love your tools for believing that the good will show up. I recently wrote a 3+ page list of all the things I’ve done in my life and posted it on my wall. Now whenever that self-defeating voice of “I can’t…” shows up I just look at my lists and say, “I did and I can and I will!” Thanks for helping us artists stand up to our full glory.

  4. Ariane Goodwin says:

    Oh, Beth…I LOVE this idea. In fact, I love it so much it’s going to turn up in my 101 Ways Artists can Beat a Recession.

    Oops, forgot that my marketing coach put me on a strict diet: no more red-hot ideas that take me off the 2009 Telesummit track. (Shhh…maybe if I do it really quietly, she won’t notice :-)

  5. Amy Crawley says:

    Hi Ariane,

    It can be quite hard to find a silver lining when all around you are going nutty. It took me a while to learn that in many of these situations, there isn’t anything I can do, EXCEPT to ask “how does this affect me?” and if it does, to what extent and “what can I do about it?”

    My Dad used to tell me “Can’t never could.” I hated that phrase as a kid, yet I’ve learned to appreciate the simple wisdom in those words.

    If I can’t, who will?

    -Amy

  6. Ariane Goodwin says:

    I agree, Amy, we’re social creatures and peer consciousness is our norm. However, we’re also part of that consciousness, so carving out a new response is up to each one of us.

    When you focus on the mountain, the violet at your feet is invisible, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist.

    Silver linings are like that. You have to turn toward them, so the light of your attention can bring them from behind the cloud.

    Take a look at Lori’s latest post

  7. Beth Barany says:

    Ariane, I won’t tell her if you won’t. :-)

    And, good luck with your 2009 Telesummit.

  8. Susie Monday says:

    Great post and a good reminder to pay attention to the details — and keep the big picture going. I think this economy is a call to many of us to diversify and to find ways to earn passive income — we can only teach so many, make so much work, keep so many (live) fires tended!

  9. Susie Monday says:

    Sorry, my http had a glitch in it.

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