Fail Big

I don’t know how many times I’ve begun this post and deleted it in the past few days.  My fingers keep typing justifications. I want to explain the hows and whys. The bottom line though, is that I’ve taken some professional and personal lumps the last few months.

Nothing debilitating or life threatening or drastic.  Just a few turns that caught me off guard, and a few more while I was still recovering from the previous.  Just enough to knock my equilibrium off.

I like to pretend I’m superhuman sometimes and that these things don’t happen, but that’s my ego typing. The reality is that it happens to all of us, and while you can’t always change the circumstance, you can change your reaction. I’m addressing the professional side of things here, but the physics are the same in the personal realm too.

You can try. You can lay out your plans on a white board, you can draw diagrams and schematics, you can run simulations and talk to focus groups. You can look at similar endeavors and adjust for their mistakes.  You can ask the experts. You can work tirelessly.

And you can still fail.

It’s vital when that happens that we pull back and look at the wide shot.  We don’t ever give the losses the credit they deserve until they are long behind us.  We always act like the setbacks are a hindrance to the process when in fact they are the process.

I’ve spent eighteen years dedicated to my craft. Two hundred shows a year for almost two decades. I’ve spent nearly 150 days of my life just standing on a stage. That’s a lot of work. I should have a TV show by now. I should have a million Twitter followers.  Hell, five million. It should be all swanky theaters at this point.

And as a meme was so generous to remind me yesterday, an eight year old yodeled on camera in a Wal-Mart and got to play Coachella.

This game is designed to demoralize you. It’s designed to chase you away from what you really want. It’s the same regardless of industry.  And if any of this was a zero sum game, it might matter.  But it’s not and it doesn’t.  Most of the time I spend disappointed about a loss, is really only difficult because I am too dumb to recognize the benefits.

A smarter me could pull back far enough to see that what I wanted might not have been good for me.  A smarter me knows that the only way you get better at something is by being slightly less bad than the time before.

But a smarter me would also realize that the difference between being rejected and being set free isn’t a difference at all.  It just looks different depending on where you’re standing.

So here’s to failing big, the liberty it brings, and all the stuff that comes afterward.

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