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If First You Fail, Try, Try Again… And Again… And Again…
The passion and purpose required to do so might just save your life
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
- William Edward Hickson
Most of us have heard that quote, and in this age of self-help social media, I’m sure we’ve seen countless variations on the theme. So much so, that it becomes somewhat of a cliché, another in a long list of bite sizes motivational fodder peddled by self proclaimed gurus and share worthy memes of the day.
But as with many clichés, there is deep wisdom found within the roots of meaning once we make the connection to ourselves and our own pursuits in life. And in this particular case, in bigger ways than initially thought.
Growth Through Failure
Everyone has experienced failure in their lives. It is very much a part of growing up and finding our way in this world. Even with direction and teaching we fail countless times during our journey to adulthood and independence. It is just part of life and how we learn.
For those of us that aspire to a life greater and more purposeful than the average existence, failure is even more of a companion along the path. The farther into the frontier of any field or down any path less traveled we go, the more often we will meet failure. In a very real way, part of the essence of creation in both art and science is failure. We sort through ideas and experiments to find the sparks of brilliance that we seek.
The prevalence of failure in our lives certainly doesn’t make its occurrence more pleasant, however. I’m certain that I’ve never met anyone who actually enjoys the feeling of failure itself, but developing a healthy relationship with it is essential to achieving anything exceptional.
In my endeavors, I’ve tried and failed so many times.
I’ve tried and “failed” at being a professional musician, finishing songs, finishing albums, developing app ideas, relationships, keeping a schedule with social media posting and, overall, in achieving the life of balance and creativity of which I have so long dreamed.
But in each of these things, even after “failing” and stopping work on a dream or goal for a long period of time, I’ve always felt the urge to return and try again.
And every time I’ve re-engaged after failure, I’ve ALWAYS come back wiser, more skilled and stronger in the endeavor than the previous try. With each attempt I’ve undoubtedly grown and come to love the pursuit a little bit more.
Purpose and Passion vs Failure
But why would anyone choose a path that would be met with so much resistance and failure? Especially if they had already reached an equilibrium of independence and security in this world where they didn’t have to push any further to survive?
I think any of us of the creative spirit would easily admit that it is the feeling you get when you create something new and beautiful that didn’t previously exist in the world. The discoveries we find that enhance our being, our meaning and our place within this vast existence. The fruits of our failures that influence and touch others around us to make our collective experiences here much more rich and beautiful.
Put together these feelings, emotions and curiosities could be described as passion. The dedication to the pursuit of realizing them: purpose.
It is precisely these, passion and purpose, that keep us going back to the task of facing failure with the hope of reaching just a little farther than we ever had before.
I used to be so afraid of failure. I used to measure and justify pursuit of an endeavor by my aptitude and relative success in the respective field. If you weren’t the best at something, then why waste your time chasing it.
There have been so many times along my path when I saw my love of music and philosophy as a detriment and a curse because of their lack of ability to earn a living. I used to resent my passion.
But the more seasons of life that I see, the more I am grateful to have passion and purpose at all, let alone to the level that keeps bringing me back to these things that I love.
I realize now that there are so many people that don’t find purpose. So many just continue on in this short existence of life, ebbing and flowing with the forces around them dictating their path and the direction of their energy.
If the meaning in this life truly has to be found rather than given, then passion is a blessing and purpose is a gift. We must nourish and embrace both.
Becoming the Mantra
The more you employ purpose and passion to shun the risk of failure and endeavor boldly down an unknown path, the more it becomes who you are. Like a muscle, with repetition our resolve strengthens and the sting of failure dulls and loses its power to turn us away.
Before long, wrought with the familiarity and surety of iteration, we start to crave the challenge and further yearn for the promise of new experience and accomplishment.
Looking back at my relationship with failure and the the fear I had of it in the past, it is easy to be regretful and wish I had more purpose and courage before. I think of how much farther I’d be now. But as with any goal or dream, it is the persistent pursuit that provides improvement. Self growth and awareness are no different. We must always keep spirit and endeavor to continue.
I am grateful that I have grown to be more aware and less fearful. And I look forward to the continuation of my journey.
Compounding Intuition and Mastery
A concept I learned from Robert Greene’s book, “Mastery”, is also worth a quick mention in this context. The essence of it says that with compounding experience gained from pursuit of skill and knowledge in a field, there comes a point at which intuition develops to create new levels of understanding and ability.
The higher levels of achievement in a given path reach the level of “mastery”, where intuition supersedes conscious knowledge, and the skill and effort required to complete otherwise extremely challenging tasks becomes relatively trivial.
To put it into context, Shakespeare was a master of the written story, Mozart was a master of musical composition and Albert Einstein was a master of theoretical physics. We view all of these people at having skill and understanding of craft beyond our personal comprehension.
It is my belief that the concept of mastery also applies to the practice of self growth in general. Intuition gained from following our passions can weave across different fields to create new understanding and insight into our direction and purpose.
So it follows that the courage and willingness to fail in new experiences and endeavors throughout life, however big or small, contribute to our overall ability to grow and progress in general.
This idea is extremely exciting to me, it fuels my passion for life long learning and following my curiosities.
Purpose for Health and Long Life
There are other reasons to embrace our passions and purpose in life beyond dreams and achievement.
Research indicates that a sense of purpose can significantly promote happiness and well-being as we age, bolstering functional independence and extending longevity across different demographics.
Purpose in life has been found to contribute to a range of positive health outcomes, including fewer chronic conditions, less disability, and reduced mortality. This is substantial as it speaks to the potential of purpose as a non-pharmacological intervention to improve health in older age.
The truth is, times are different now. The old traditions of a life of curiosity and dreams ending at 25 years old are in the past. As technology continues to advance and make the essentials of living easier, personal growth and understanding of ourselves becomes more essential. Finding purpose in life beyond survival becomes paramount. Both for ourselves and for society as a whole.
So pursue your passion, embrace your purpose, and try, try again.. and again… and again.
You have everything to gain.
Exciting Tech of The Week
ChatGPT Custom GPTs
The paid version of ChatGPT just released Custom GPTs, a feature that empowers users to train personalized language models tailored to specific needs. This allows for a more specialized understanding of distinct topics, professional terminologies, and unique communication styles.
It essentially allows you to train and fine tune ChatGPT on your own data, whether its writing style, lyrical style or any other parsable input, all without needing to know how to code. Custom GPTs are designed for ease of use, enabling continuous updates and retraining to adapt to changing requirements, thus democratizing access to sophisticated, bespoke AI capabilities for a wider audience.
OpenAI is also opening a marketplace around this new feature where you can buy and sell Custom GPTs, so there might be business opportunities in this new space. I’m extremely excited to play around with this more and try some experiments on training custom GPTs and will share progress here.
My Creative Updates
In anticipation for recording vocals for my new songs, this past weekend I got a new desktop rack and mounted all my analog gear that I use for my vocal chain. It includes an 1176LN compressor, API 512c pre-amp and Retro Doublewide tube compressor. Such analogue nerdiness… Ooooh, isn’t it pretty!!!? 😄
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