Fail better.

I am not smart, not in a traditional sense. Anything and everything I have learned in this life seems due to an iterative process of failures occasionally accompanied by incremental learning. It’s a methodology that works for people such as myself who aren’t blessed with the standard suite of learning tools. 

The trick is to make sure that when I fail I do it in a way that helps me be better, at everything. To do this I have had to learn how to constructively reflect on all aspects of my failures. From the outside this kind of reflection can appear no different than self-destructive regret, remorse, and worse-rumination. It is not. 

My in depth examination of personal and professional failures is done with a couple of specific goals in mind. The first and very practical goal is to prevent the same failure in the future. Failure hurts. Avoid pain. Easy enough. The second goal is to apply the lesson learned to other areas of my interaction with the world. Ok, maybe it’s a good idea to have two of everything in case something/anything breaks, no matter the job type. Logical. 

These are simple lessons on the surface, but it is when I’m on a budget and balancing where and how to spend hard-earned time and money that things get much more complicated. Is it better to spend money and time on attracting new clients, updating my website and social media, or on making sure that my shoot logistics are so smooth and practiced that nothing will prevent me from slowing me down or getting the job done. 

I’ve learned that it’s far worse to lose a client than to miss out on finding a new client. I can always go after the new client in the future, but once you lose a client it’s pretty much forever. Respect your client’s needs, get the job done-always, be professional on the job site-even if no one else is, keep a good attitude and never let them see you struggle because people will pick up on it and the shoot momentum can falter. Expect that things will break, go missing, or not work as expected. Expect that I’ll forget how something works and prepare for that.. All of these examples are lessons learned from failures. 

Fail better. I don’t take it personally. Failures in and of themselves don’t mean anything. Failures don’t symbolize anything either. My failures don’t make me a failure. Failures don’t hold any value or detriment until I decide how to handle them. I choose to fail effectively by putting failure to use. This is a lesson that took years for me to learn. 

Fail better. It will give you the confidence to try new things and expand your creativity. It will give your clients confidence that when something does go wrong on a shoot you have all the mental tools and experience to handle it and keep on shooting.