I once heard a story about a guy who wanted to write a book. But he was too overwhelmed by the enormity of the process, so for a decade, he didn’t do it. One day, he decided to create a 5,000-word monthly magazine and offer a two-year subscription to everyone he knew. A bunch of people signed up, and all of a sudden, he had to do it. At the end of two years, he had 120,000 words to work with to create this book.
Launching Thinking Good, nearly a year and a half ago, has been an exhilarating and at times frustrating rollercoaster ride. I’ve experienced the incumbent fast starts, abrupt stops and twists and turns of entrepreneurship. I’ve grappled with the challenges of what I dub #SmlBizLyf: balancing work and family (especially difficult when you work where you live); pushing back on “honey-dos” imposed on my flexible schedule; and the social isolation of not having a work buddy to chat with over a much-needed coffee break.
I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. Not everything has turned out as I would like, but fortunately most of my missteps have been instructive and none fatal.
On the Suite Talk podcast, I often ask guests what’s one lesson they’re glad to have learned early in life. The responses are drawn equally from positive and negative experiences and result in strengthened fortitude, resilience, discernment, patience, a better understanding of limitations or willingness to seek advice. For me, I’m glad to have learned the importance—reoccurrence—of failure.
Somewhere around third or fourth session of the beginner’s improv class I teach at The Unified Scene Theater, a brick-and-mortar improv space located in the Bloomingdale Neighborhood of Washington, DC, I make the entire class stand up, raise their hands, and yell, as loud as they can “I FAILED! I FAILED AT IMPROV! I FAILED AT MAKING CRAP UP! HOORAY!”
Because, I tell them, they will. Failure is built into this medium. Not everything is perfect the first time out. Even seasoned veterans have bad shows. The now syndicated show “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” airs for 22 minutes. But how long did it take to record the shows for the producer and directors to cherry-pick those segments? Hours. Why? Because not everything works. People who have shared the stage for decades sometimes have miscues, moments that don’t always result in brilliance and magic. It’s the nature of the beast. The trick is to get back on the horse and try again. And again, and again.