The Stewardship of Failure

Author: Jenny Lind Conlee | www.jennylindconlee.com | @jennylindconlee

If failing makes you cool, then I’m Miles Davis. I am not sure how many auditions I’ve been on - so let’s just say 100. I’ve obviously not booked 100 acting jobs or else you’d have recognized me by some Hallmark or Lifetime original film by now. One of my closest friends said to me once, “Jenny, I don’t know anyone who handles rejection as well as you.” My response? “Thanks?” What she meant was that I didn’t seem to take it personal when I wasn’t chosen. In fact, I’ve even gotten called back to audition for things because I kept things light and fun in the audition room. I can’t tell you how many times I have received emails that said “Jenny, we love you - just not for THIS project.” Sometimes a “no” is just a “not right now”. That’s why I think this particular brand of failure was/is palatable for me.

When I started doing standup, it was because I was looking for ways to create opportunities for myself. Honestly, it took a casting director and a producer to tell me I could do it before I attempted it. It was never part of my plan. My dad told me, “You have got to be the bravest person I know. How did you get the guts to do standup?” I told him, “Because even if I bomb, it’s still funny to me.” I laugh at my own jokes. It’s ok.

Here is the truth of the matter: failure is not the worst thing to ever happen to me. When I began my “creative” journey, I gave myself permission to fail because failure is inevitable. Especially when you’re attempting something new.

I hate that failure is a better teacher than success. Thomas Edison allegedly said he didn’t fail, he just learned 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb. Many people fear failure and never truly attempt things they dream of doing. That is a tragedy!

Maybe it is time we redefine what failure and success look like for ourselves. It’s hard to do, but it’s a good start. If you are learning and growing from it, then you’re being a good steward of your failure. If you’re going to fail, make it count. Go down in a blaze of glory like yours truly. Take it from me, it gets easier.

I just turned down a gig because it was something I was not comfortable doing. Mind you, I’ve done a play where my character’s skirt was stuck in her pantyhose. So, there’s not a lot that makes me cringe - the comedian in me always wins. I was sad though, because I literally haven’t had a gig since May. I started over-analyzing. Was that my last gig? Is this it? Then I remembered that being a good steward of failure isn’t just learning from it. It’s also trusting God with it. Doesn’t it all belong to Him anyway? God’s version and the world’s version of success are not the same. There’s freedom in that.

When was the last time you attempted something that scared you? What is the fear of failure holding you back from? Is regret worse than failure?

Elisa EarwickerComment