Editor’s Note: Jeff Leisawitz is the author of the book “Not F’ing Around,” as well as an award-winning musician/producer and internationally distributed filmmaker. He has some sound advice for creative folks and event organizers on failing fast.
Live in Seattle? Attend Jeff’s workshop April 9: Discover What You Love (and Why).
Have you ever failed? Yeah, me too. It sucks.
Now step back. Define failure.
Most people would probably say it has something to do with choosing a goal and not reaching it. This is simple, objective. And short-sighted.
Let’s dig in. If you buy stock in your favorite start-up tech company at 10 bucks a pop, hold onto it for a year and sell at 7 bucks, you lost money. You failed. But if you hold onto that stock for another year and it jets to seventeen, you succeeded. You made money.
What’s the difference? Time and perspective. Now let’s take it to the streets.
You’re an actor. You love it. Ever since that school play when you dressed up as one of the three bears in third grade you just knew this was your thing. You’ve taken tons of classes, read a million books, watched, studied and analyzed a zillion plays, movies and TV series. You burn for a leading role on a TV show. And you kinda sorta really want it to be about zombies.
Years go by. You get some gigs but it’s mostly small time stuff. Not enough to really pay the rent. So you do side jobs to keep the money flowing in the right direction.
Some would call this failure. I wouldn’t.
If you stop going to auditions, quit and move back to your hometown, then yeah, you fail. But the failure has nothing to do with the goal, the failure is in the quitting.
Get this. If you continue on with the auditions, networking, etc., your chance of success is infinitely greater than if you quit.
If you stop you can’t possibly succeed. If you continue there is always possibility.
Make sure you hear this clearly—If you push forward on your creative dreams you’re infinitely more likely to succeed than if you bail out.
But there’s more … when we don’t reach our goals, we have a choice on how we perceive the situation. A lousy perception is to believe we failed. (An even worse perception is that we are a failure.)
But if you look more deeply at any situation you’ll find huge benefits. Ask questions and you’ll learn something important. How can I change it next time? How can I do it better? Who can I ask for help? What went right? What went wrong?
Then continue. Step forward. Re-assess your goals.
Do whatever it takes to align yourself with your new wisdom and knowledge.
You now have an infinitely greater likelihood of success.
In case you hadn’t noticed, a whole lot of life is how you look at it. Redefine failure. Flip into possibility.
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