Why Am I Such A Failure? Why It's Not All That Bad

“If you’re afraid to fail, you won’t get very far” - Steve Jobs 04.11.24

photo of steve jobs with first computer

Learning To Accept Failure

It happens. And we all can agree that it generally sucks. Failure is just as much a part of life as breathing. It's one hundred percent inescapable. From tiny failures like burning one side of your grilled cheese sandwich, to bigger failures like having to call it quits on a company you started; It's embedded into our daily lives. The real question then is how fragile is our ego? How do we accept failure? How do we cope with it? How we perceive those inevitable moments of setback will directly impact our success in the future.

Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset

Do you view failure as permanent? Do you generally choose tasks that are easier with a higher success rate? Carol Dweck wrote a book called The Growth Mindset that confronts the idea of failing and how we perceive it. Seeing it as an opportunity to do better, figure it out, and grow from it rather than let it discourage us from moving forward. The person with the fixed mindset believes that their abilities, intelligence, and talents are innate and unchangeable. They think they are either born with certain skills or not, and this cannot be altered significantly through effort or learning. The person with the growth mindset believes that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication, hard work, and learning. They see talents as a starting point that can be cultivated through effort and perseverance.

photo of staircase showing little steps lead to success

Failure Is Only Temporary

When I think of failing, I think of a staircase. Each step is a small failure, ultimately building the staircase to the top. Failure isn’t permanent, it’s a necessary step (pun intended) to getting to where you want to be. It’s also not the same as defeat. Defeat is a choice when confronted with the idea of failure. Accept it and move on. Take it as a challenge to try and do better.

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself, Stay With It

No infant comes out of the womb walking. You have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run. It takes time and a lot of failing. Stay with it. Personally I’ve failed at music, failed at programming, failed at love, failed in every single aspect of my life at some point. But giving up is never an option. Those terrible songs got better and I eventually got my first sync/license for HBO's Ballers, after breaking my web app Chordo fifty times it finally got deployed. The girl of my dreams, who once had me in the friend-zone, accepted my proposal to be married. None of this would have happened had I just said screw it I’m done.

As a teacher I’ve witnessed a multitude of personalities. So many students who give up way before they even come close to hitting their stride. It’s all persistence. Those who achieve success stick with it despite their failures. They view them as a learning experience. Taking on an instrument and starting from zero takes a lot of time, practice, and patience. I have to remind my students our hands weren't necessarily designed to stretch across the neck of a guitar. You need to stick with it to develop that muscle memory.

Had I just given up when my first few music releases did nothing I wouldn't be where I am today. I'm proud of how many places my music has ended up. From HBO to Netflix all the way to the CW I've had over thirty sync licenses. I built my recording studio piece by piece and with every fifty terrible songs I'd get one really good one. I learned to accept that a lot of what I was doing was going to be awful aka a total failure. That's fine, because I accepted it before it even happened. I was ready for it.

photo of a girl feeling isolated in a crowd

Finding Ways To Stay Motivated Amidst Setbacks

Where does motivation come from? Does it stem from “wanting more”? It’s oftentimes hard to stay motivated when confronting multiple failures. You need a support system. Either friends, family, or colleagues you can relate to. Sometimes I find myself trying to trick my mind by saying I can have “a reward” if I complete the task at hand. Motivation is very personal, it all falls on a single person at the end of the day: You. Finding ways to stay motivated is half the battle.

Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People

One way to help stay motivated is surrounding yourself with like-minded people. We feed off of one another’s energy. If you are surrounded by people who are lethargic and unmotivated, chances are you will feel no different. If your friends have zero ambitions and a fixed mindset, you will be no different. I figured this out a little while back and I wound up letting go of a bunch of friendships. Haven't looked back since. I've made new friends over the years who are constantly taking failures on the chin, but pushing on nevertheless. They keep me inspired and motivated.

photo of a guy failing

Track Your Progress

I often times set up my studio to record a new student because I know it’s hard to recognize your own growth. You don’t see your nephew for 5 months and wow how you’ve grown, but if you see them everyday it’s much harder to identify it. By creating timestamps it allows us to look back and see that we have in fact made steps forward. If you are working out maybe that’s a photo once a week. Find ways to showcase where you are at so when you are feeling despondent you will have some inspiration to go off of.

Success, You're Comfortable With Failure

Confronting failure doesn’t have to suck. We all have to deal with it. Don't be afraid to lean on your friends and family. Because it's a shared experience across the board. We all can relate to the terrible feelings that failure evokes. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. We all are human. Accepting that failure is just another part of existence is the first step towards success.