Despite a lifetime of conquering challenge after challenge and reaching many of my goals, I finally had to face something that was holding me back: Fear of Failure. It only dawned on me a couple of years ago that there is no possibility to succeed without failure. Failure is a prerequisite for success. Gymnasts train with pits of foam under the bars because they fall over and over again. Learning the tricks means falling down a lot.
But as artists we like the tricks but not many of us like the falling part. It's annoying and it's embarrassing to fail again and again. But that's just your ego talking. It's not actually painful unless you attribute meaning to it that just isn't there.
How many of us have had a crappy day at work with a looming deadline and thought something like,
I will never figure this out
Now imagine the person sitting next to you saying that to you:
"You will never figure this out."
What would you call that type of person? A jerk? At the very least --a real a**hole and not someone you would trust to work with artists at a studio. That person would need a smack upside the head and a desk far away from humans. If that voice is your own inner monologue, you need to silence it, now.
2012 was my year to follow this motto: EMBRACE FAILURE. I came to grips with the idea that there's always progress being made even when it doesn't show up on the screen....yet. That was my other discovery. Adding 'yet' to defeatist statements gives them power and intent. ("I don't understand rigging..yet". See?)
In the gym we work 'to failure' meaning you lift a weight heavy enough that after a few reps you can't lift any more. Failure makes your muscles stronger. Progress takes months but it is guaranteed if you never give up.
At your desk it's the same thing - your brain responds to each new challenge by building new neural pathways. Every new task works out your brain and makes you a bit smarter, even though it takes a while to see it. Learning unfamiliar things feels like failure sometimes but really, painful as the process is, it's growth all the same.
On the long road to success, failure is not only an option, it is a requirement. Make peace with it.
Here - this cartoon says it best: