“What’s the worst that will happen if you fail?” This was the question posed to me during a conversation with Mary Lynn Rajskub… and it has left me changed in every aspect of my life.
It happened during a bathroom conversation in which I divulged I was trying to get over some stage fright I had acquired after a few rough shows. You see I have a HUGE fear of failure. I don’t know why. I just always have. It’s only gotten worse over the last couple years. Every human hates failure… I was letting mine cripple me on stage.
After my conversation with Mary, total fan girl moment for me since I really look up to her but I held my shit together, I got to thinking…. What is really the worst thing that would happen should I fail?
In my daily life money making career I work in veterinary medicine. I perform anesthesia (among other things), a life or death procedure, and have the capacity to make mistakes that could easily kill. Yet I do it with complete confidence. I mean… I will get nervous during a super critical moment but I KNOW I’m good at it. I’m completely confident in that situation. Present me with an anesthetic emergency of any kind and I will calmly and confidently work to correct it. Stand up is different… it’s an art that takes hours of practice and not just knowledge.
No one will die if I drop a punchline. The worst thing I guess is some people may judge me based on the bad show. Luckily there’s always people who have seen me do well. Everyone has bad shows… even the famous people. I’ve seen many famous comics go down in flames. I’m just a rookie… doing this for fun since I can’t live my active lifestyle anymore to challenge myself… even if I was famous a bad set is just a bad set. Nothing more.
If I have a bad run of shows the worst that will happen is I may not get asked back. That’s not horrible in the long run as there are many shows going on in multiple clubs and eventually I could prove myself again. Plus everyone knows I’m just learning. Why put pressure on myself? It’s ironic a fear of failure could be causing me to fail.
Failure is a part of trying anything. What counts is pushing through… learning from it… and overcoming it. I took the stage with this new attitude and it truly boosted my performance. It’s not that I didn’t give a shit anymore… fear of failure just wasn’t at the forefront of my mind any more.
Anyone in ANY job what SO EVER is gonna have a bad day. Failure is inevitable. You will go down in flames at some point. I guess it’s all in how you overcome it. If you have a bad show… bad run… bad day… screw up… etc don’t give up. Learn from it, move on and do better next time. Failure is a part of life. Don’t let the fear keep you from success.