What happens when things don’t go well for you? When you don’t make the big sale you anticipated? When you strike out in an important at-bat? When you stumble over your words in a presentation? When you play the wrong notes during your solo?
In situations like this, I wanted to pass along this excerpt from “Start” by Jon Acuff:
– learning from a comedian..how do you prepare for the possibility of a lumberjack’s aggressive daughter in the audience? (who had been vocalizing disruptive comments during his stand up comedy routine) You don’t . So on some nights John bombs. That’s part of comedy and when we talked about it one day on the phone, I realized it was part of Guiding too. …John told me that the best part of comedy was that he didn’t have to carry around the failures for that long. I asked him what he meant. He explained: “a failure would hurt a lot if I were only performing once a month or once every other month. There’d be a thirty to sixty day window for me to carry around that failure. I’d sit with it for all those weeks and it’d be really heavy. But with comedy , if I fail during the 7:00 p.m. show, I only have to carry it for an hour until the 8:00p.m. show It doesn’t have time to define me when I start again so quickly.
– -John learned that if he can shorten his starting cycle, failures don’t have the time to define him. At the end of the night, what happened at 7:00 p.m. doesn’t hold a whole lot of light of weight when he performed successfully at 8:00 pm and 9:00 p.m. . He starts so often that the shadow of one failure looks tiny in the light of all the new opportunities for success.
– -the same principle applies with success. If you don’t start again, if you don’t share what you’ve learned with other travelers and head back to the land of Learning with a fresh start, yesterday’s successes will start to define your today and tomorrow. Instead of just celebrating them, which you should do. you’ll start to protect them–to manicure the myth. and you’ll be afraid to start over for fear of losing your successful identity.
I’m sure there are plenty of takeaways from this excerpt but two immediately come to mind:
- If you have had a “bomb” or a failed experience, don’t dwell on it, get right back up on your feet. Look to learn from your experience and try again.
- If you have had a success, learn from it as well, but move on. Start again and look to continue moving forward. Be careful about getting to a point of complacency. Change comes too quickly and a complacent person can be left behind.