In this post, I tell a story about a failure that was predicable and a success I didn’t see coming. (And give a nod to one of my favorite funny men, who had a signature way of falling that was really quite graceful.)
This blog, the Joy Report, is about recovery, spirituality and creativity. At that intersection is pretty much where I live. And so do many of my readers. Your comments, both here and on FB, remind me that we all struggle with the concept of success, and that it is a valid topic for discussion.
I am also reminded that success is pretty simple: You set out to do something, you do it. Success. Whether or not it was hard, whether or not anyone else noticed, whether or not you got paid. And just because it’s something you want to do, something you are made to do, something you love to do, doesn’t mean it doesn’t take courage to do it.
Where it gets tricky is when we screw up the courage to do something and fail to reach the goal. That’s when we start parsing the word “success” for fear that all our efforts have been in vain. It’s important to acknowledge the success of overcoming our fear and taking action; it’s also important to not stop there. That goal is still there. It’s important to hang onto it.
Our dreams and aspirations are divinely directed. Following them is a blessed thing to do.
I remember a guy who used to come into the store where I worked, a mom and pop natural foods store in Cambridge, Mass., way back in the mid-1980s. He wrote songs, but couldn’t sing. I wrote songs and sang them. He asked if I would sing some of his songs for a demo tape he was making. He even offered to pay me. I said sure.
The songs were horrible, the pits. They were actually so bad they were funny. After several sessions of recording vocal parts on his songs, I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I told him that I couldn’t do any more of his demos, that the songs were not my thing. Among the musicians who were asked to help out with this guy’s song demos, his name would always engender a good deal of eye-rolling. Nobody could stand to make the demos, even though he was paying us. He was not a songwriter.
He still came into the store, and he always talked about folk music with stars in his eyes. He told me he had a dream. “Uh-oh,” I thought. “He’s gonna get his heart broken.” His dream, he finally admitted, was to become a concert producer.
While I was relieved that he was no longer aspiring to songwriter fame, I still thought his dream was an impossible dream for him. He had no experience producing concerts. He didn’t have many connections, either. He was just a dorky guy in polyester pants with a huge keyring in one of the front pockets who loved folk music.
To my amazement, he achieved his dream. He created a company called Songstreet Productions, and he began producing shows in a local movie theatre, which eventually became a thriving venue for live performances. He would introduce the acts himself, and to fend off nervousness, he would toss that enormous bunch of keys from hand to hand during his introductions. People loved him. He was funny. He was a success. He had a thing he wanted to do, and he did it.
I have no idea if he made money. But I do know that he produced concerts. I moved away from town, and I lost track of Songstreet Productions. A quick Internet search shows that Songstreet Productions existed until about 2008, then nothing. That’s roughly 25 years in business. I hope he retired a happy and fulfilled man, and I’m sorry I judged his ability to achieve his dream.
And I’m glad this story came to mind as an example of hanging onto a dream through multiple failures. (Those songs really were awful.) It reminds me that it’s possible to fail because you’re going at it the wrong way. You may think you have to do what everyone else is doing, or it may take you a while to admit what your dream really is. It’s very likely my old acquaintance would not have been so clear on what his dream was had he not made a significant foray into what it wasn’t.
Maybe your dream is getting lost in translation. You will never know what to do to bring that dream to life if you stay on the sidelines out of fear of failing.
What if getting it wrong were an important part of getting it right? How would that change how far you are willing to stick your neck out in pursuit of your goals? Probably the most important thing about failure is it teaches you that you won’t break.
As always, thanks for reading. If you’d like to see a particular topic covered here on the Joy Report, please drop me a line. I always love hearing from you.
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by Phyllis Capanna © 2015 joyreport
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