Nothing is certain in life, especially success. That is certainly true of our industry, where products fail to launch, scripts never make it to production, entire companies (production, gear or otherwise) rise and fall in a heartbeat. But it’s a harsh reality many in the entertainment industry are faced with every day, and one many still need to learn to embrace.
Few would call Babe Ruth a baseball failure, but he “only” had a lifetime batting average of .342 with 8,398 at-bats; or, out of every 10 times at-bat, there was a good chance he’d strike out instead of getting on base. Michael Jordan said he failed again and again, which was why he succeeded. Steve Jobs had three major setbacks – dropping out of college, being fired from his own company and cancer. Every time there was a setback, he stepped back, reexamined his goals and moved forward. Walt Disney, Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison all had big dreams, set goals, worked hard and … failed.
It’s not called “trial and error” for nothing.
It’s not easy, it’s not fun, but it’s the most effective way of learning and reaching your objective, your goal. Sure, succeeding, hitting a homerun every time beats the heck out of striking out because it hurts. At the same time, unless the failure totally paralyzes you, it can help you move forward, grow. If it does cripple you, you’ll follow the path of Willy Lowman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Read a story about almost everyone and they all had major setbacks, but they turned these failings to work for them and were better for the experience.
Of course, making a career of failing doesn’t put much money in your pocket either. People who fail and blame others never make much progress because according to them, everything is outside of their control. Those who face setbacks head-on do it by controlling their emotions, adjusting their thinking, re-calibrating their goals and developing a new plan of action (sometimes in a totally new direction). They will often tell you succeeding is sweet but beating failure is so much sweeter. True, there are times when stuff just happens! Deal with it, get over it, move on.
The key is in how you approach things:
Change for the sake of change isn’t healthy but:
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s famous The Power of Positive Thinking is still valid in helping people understand that positive thinking can help you move forward, while negative thinking can drag you down.
Focus on the solution, not the problem.
We live in a goal-driven society. Coaches love to repeat the mantra that “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Goals and objectives are critical to keep us growing and improving.
Striving for success is a goal we should never question. Working to fail isn’t even on the roadmap. But it comes with the territory; and handled properly, helps you achieve even more than you thought possible. Those who let failure immobilize them never know the exhilaration of failing forward.