Failure: It’s About Perspective

Those of us in the Milwaukee area have been a little disappointed that our beloved Milwaukee Bucks did not get as far as we might’ve expected in the NBA playoffs. Some of those people might even be wearing their Bucks gear and blogging about their disappointment at this very moment. [ahem]

But really, this video… This answer to this question, about whether Giannis Antetokounmpo views this basketball season as a failure – it’s gone a bit viral, because it’s a message that needs to be heard: people fail, and it’s OK.

Something social media has done to us as a society is to glamorize the good to the point of making the bad seeming nonexistent; on many profiles across many platforms you’ll only see happy things. People come across as perfect.

In live music, for instance, we’ll only share pictures of events from angles that show there is a substantial crowd. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t – but we never want to actually show when there are small crowds… That would reflect poorly on everyone involved. Or, would it be human? What if we started sharing those realistic photos of the quiet events?

There are other reasons that accepting failure is difficult: often we don’t want to admit we were wrong, that our idea didn’t work, that we didn’t prepare enough, etc. Those of us with egos, we never seem to fail. 😉 Yet, how else do we learn? How do we get better, for next time?

This is why I love encouraging live performance at every level – from recitals and contests with music students to open mics for the adult musicians to live shows in varieties of spaces… Some that may be more awkward/different than others. Not all of the performances will be 100% or even 90%. Some might not be 50%. But, we will always take something away from the experience.

I have had some pretty spectacular failures, even recently. On stage, in other work, in personal life. They are always frustrating, at first. But I believe that the only true failures are the ones that we let get to us – that weaken us. Those that we can use to learn from, to build off of and make us stronger, are small successes masquerading as failures (as Giannis was alluding to).




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