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How 34 Taught Me To Embrace Failure

The one and only Bo Jackson

The one and only Bo Jackson

You may be wondering who or what “34” is. That’s a good question. I’ve been pretty fond of 34 for about a year. The reason: It’s my age (until Wednesday this week). It was also the number of Hakeem Olajuwon, Walter Payton, Nolan Ryan, and Bo Jackson (the greatest athlete ever, in my opinion, and who I share a b-day with).

Over the past few years, I take the cake and the candles and do something a little different. I look back at the year kinda like we usually do on New Year’s Eve. A look back at the successes of the past year and how to improve upon them. There have been quite a few successes I’m very proud of from this year, and one of them has to do with learning to embrace failure.

Why Embracing Failure Is Important


I don’t know about you, but I didn’t learn how to fail in school. I learned how to avoid it. Mostly, I learned how to avoid it at all costs.

Both of my parents are really smart people. My dad is an engineer and my mom works in the medical community. My sister is also pretty brilliant, working for one of the largest design companies in the world. Smarts is something that should have been natural for me, and probably would have been, if only I’d paid more attention.

Instead, I spent a good amount of time avoiding things that were difficult, particularly math. From the story in the video, math was something that I didn’t ever understand as well as I should. My avoidance of understanding led to failures that have taught some pretty profound lessons 20 years later.

This year, while I’ve succeeded at expanding my horizons and connecting with a much larger base of folks in the creative industries, I’ve also faced some pretty big challenges. Whereas in the past I might have run from those challenges, or beat myself up for not winning right away, I’ve taken a different path.

Failure is a great teacher because it costs us something to learn the lesson. What’s something I failed at? I didn’t execute on my launch plan for the DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook. That’s the honest truth. Did I make a plan? Yep. Did I map out a course of actions to take for 3 months to make it happen? You betcha. Did I start that plan with a lot of energy and enthusiasm? Yeppers.

So what happened? Why would I consider the launch to be a failure?

I don’t consider the launch a failure. I consider my execution of the launch plan to be. I started it the right way. I mapped things out. I had a strategy. But I didn’t stick with it and update my progress as I went. After the first few weeks, I just guessed at what I needed to do and kinda went through a series of actions that ended up working out pretty well.

What’s the lesson learned from this? Several actually. First, make a plan and stick to it. Second, create a calendar for what action steps to take on a weekly basis until those things become second nature. Third, be organized and follow through. Making the plan and executing the plan are different things. They both need to happen for success to be achieved.

Was the launch of my debut book a failure? Nope. However, I can recognize the difference between the success I have had and the success I could have had. Execution on the plan is the difference.

Overcoming The Fear Of Failure

One other big thing that failure has taught me is that it’s not as scary as I thought it was. I have avoided failure for most of my life out of fear. One of the big victories of 34 is diving deep into my heart and digging up the darkest fears that have hindered my growth. Bringing these things out into the light to be examined and discussed has been a tremendous method of creating success.

Fear and failure go together like a tag-team wrestling tandem hellbent on destroying progress and opportunities for growth. Fear builds on the worst scenarios of your life, or the worst-case scenario possible, to convince you to give up. Quitting and not believing in yourself leads to the ultimate failure: one where you throw in the towel.

When I think of that combination, my old days of watching wrestling come to mind. It’s like the terror that the Undertaker and Kane used to instill into people. But facing those two is not an impossible task. We just need to smell a different kind of attitude (yes, that’s a reference to The Rock).

Instead of fearing failure, and instead of looking at failure as a zero-sum game, let it be a teacher. When we don’t end up with the results we want (aka failing), we have the opportunity to go back and look at what happened. Analyze the space and the actions. What could have been done differently? Was something in the plan not done right? Where did things go askew and how?

Failure creates opportunities to improve, to rise up, to grow.

It also makes us much more thankful of the opportunities and happenings of success.

Shifting Gears To Look At Some Big Wins

d grant mcmurray speechSpeaking of that, the success of 34 has been far more vibrant and joyful than anything else. Here’s a shortlist of the big wins this year has brought:

-Outstanding growth through the DIY Artist Route Podcast including monumental conversations with folks (and heroes) like Seth Godin, Derek Webb, Matthew Mayfield, Rachael Yamagata, Kevin Kelly and Jon Nastor.

-Guest spots on podcasts like The Miews with Shane Freeman, We Spin with Andrew Apanov, Bridge The Atlantic with Marcio Novelli and Ross Barber-Smith, Music Monster with Greg Wilnau, Hack the Entrepreneur, and more.

-Being a presenter on the monumental Music Launch Summit, the largest online music growth conference hosted and managed by the incredible Steve Palfreyman

-Being a featured writer for some outstanding music publications like Sonicbids, Bandzoogle, and Hypebot

The Appetizer Radio Show gaining new stations carrying the show across the country

-Launching my speaking career doing presentations about Growth Farming For Success including speeches at universities, organizations, and finishing 3rd in divisional competition with Toastmasters

-Releasing and spreading my first published book The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook

 

That’s a lot of great things to come in just 365 days. I’m excited about what is to come in the near year, which will include some new offerings just for you to help you grow. I’m excited to share more with you, including insights on this road that include what is working for me and what isn’t so that you can have the most wins every step of the way.

Finally, since winning and growth are such big focus points in what I do here with helping you growth farm, I’m giving away a few copies of my book. Get a chance to grab a copy by signing up for my email list in the right hand column. The giveaway is for my group and community. Join up with me in there and we’ll talk soon!